What To Do If You Run Aground
May 29, 2011 7:52 PM | Tagged as Run aground

What To Do If You Run Aground

It’s a beautiful day. You’re happily "afloat", then suddenly you’re "aground". You immediately put the engines in reverse, back off the rocks and find that something is wrong. What a way to ruin your entire day!

There's an old saying that, "If the draft (depth) of your vessel exceeds the depth of the water, you are most certainly aground".

However with that being said, there are only two types of boaters, those who have already gone aground and those who are going to go aground sooner or later.

OK then, let's go over some "Do's" and "Don'ts" when it comes your turn to run out of water under your keel. 

  • Put your engines in neutral and shut them off.
  • Check on your crew to see if there are any injuries.
  • If someone needs immediate medical attention, call for help.
  • Have your crew put on their PFDs.
  • Check your engine spaces and other bilge areas for any signs of water coming in. If you have put a hole in the hull, the last thing you want to do is to back off into deep water and sink.         
  • If wave action is driving you further aground or into a bank, deploy an anchor out towards deep water and set it. “How do I do that”, you ask? Good question. If you can, toss the anchor towards the deep water and set it. Or, if you are lucky enough to have somebody nearby in a small boat or on a jet ski, ask them to deploy the anchor for you.
  • If you have gone aground on sand or mud, and if you’re sure there are no holes in your hull, restart the engines and try to back off. However, if the boat does not come free quickly, SHUT THE ENGINES DOWN! The cooling water intakes for the engine are on the bottom of your boat right in the mud and sand. So, if you continue to run your engine, the entire cooling system is going to quickly fill up with mud and sand. It has been my experience that a marine engine that gets overheated because it has been totally plugged with mud, sand or debris is never quite the same after the fact.
  • If you do successfully refloat your boat, be aware that if you have a damaged propeller shaft or strut the vibration can and will cause further hull and drive train damage if it's run for a long period of time. Get to the marina and have it looked at immediately before you do further damage. When you start the boat, listen for signs that it is operating properly. If you are not sure, turn it off and call for a tow.    

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