Running Aground 101

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Backing up to a nice grounding spot with the twin rudders already retracted. Photos by Adam Cort

Backing up to a nice grounding spot with the twin rudders already retracted. Photos by Adam Cort

Oddly enough, grounding a 46-footer on a beach ain’t that tough. The only question is whether you prefer to go in bow or stern first.

Aboard the Seaward 46RK, backing up is made especially easy by that fact that the boat is equipped with twin diesels, which can be “tractored,” as on a catamaran. This allows you to pull up the two rudders well in advance so you don’t have to worry about them suffering a hard grounding.

Raising the keel is a push-button operation

Raising the keel is a push-button operation

The nice thing about going in stern-first is that it makes stepping ashore that much easier. Basically you just raise the retractable keel and then back up as far as you can go, orienting the boat so it’s perpendicular to the shore. When you can’t go any farther, simply step off the stern and set a small anchor to ensure you stay put.

The one variable that can make things a bit complicated is a cross-current, since ending up broadside to the shore will make it hard to get off again. In this case it often makes sense to go in bow first, since you will have better control of your angle. You can also drop the engines in reverse and back away quickly if things start going haywire. Have a stern anchor ready to set on the up-current side and as soon as the bow hits the sand have someone set it ashore to keep the stern stationary.

Dropping the hook; no question whether you’re well set here!

Dropping the hook; no question whether you’re well set here!

If the current isn’t too bad, you can also try backing down on a bow anchor, similar to backing into the dock in a Med-moor situation. As soon as you ground out, walk out a stern anchor to keep your back end stable, and between it and the bow anchor you should be all set.

Read Sailing in the Shallows of Florida here

For Some Common Centerboard and Daggerboard Designs for Sailboats, click here

November 2015

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