Aground, and Only Myself to Blame

Well, when I anchored here I thought "It's going to blow gently from the South East, maybe the East, 10 knots max. So I can anchor close to the southern shore, no problems." Fucking weather forecasts! You read it, you download a GRIB, you analyse the weather yourself, and still you get it wrong!

So here I am stuck in the mud against some unnamed mudbank of an islet in southern Moreton Bay, waiting for more tide so I can get out of this shtuck. The problem is that the wind moved to the north blowing me onto this bank as the tide turned, during my nana nap, rather than blowing me off, as forecast. I see what's  happening as soon as I awake but too late. I try using brute force (engine and anchor winch) but the the anchor chain is at right angles so I can't effectively pull the boat off that way, and the one and only effect of revving the engine is smoke. Stuck fast. The only thing that will get me off is more water. It is now approaching the bottom of the tide and I should have an extra 1.5m at the next high tide. Unfortunately that wind is still going to be blowing me into the shallows so the more water, the more I slide into the shallows. Fuck!

I have only myself to blame because I knew I was rather close to this southern bank. I just did not expect this wind from the north! And neither did anyone else, like the BOM.

It is now 3 hrs later, the northerly has gone, and the tide has turned and lifted Anjea off without any issues. I move away 20m and re-anchor.           

It is only mud on the bottom so I was never worried about damage. It was just that horrible feeling of being ATTACHED with a lack of CONTROL. Psychoanalysts, amatuer and professional, may read into that whatever they wish and you are all right.

Someone once said "You're not really exploring unless you run aground occasionally." I read that a long time ago and have lived by it. I have run aground a lot. My running aground started in the East Gippsland Lakes, a favorite running aground spot for weekend sailors from all over Victoria. A bunch of us would charter a boat for a weekend, or a week, and run it aground all over the place. Two incidents I remember especially: one was that the yacht rental company promised us a free bottle of bubbly if we called them to pull the boat off! Well, what a challenge! I promptly shortcut the entrance to the channel, missing the first three red marks and uuuuugh, aground. Within minutes, on a falling tide, it was obvious we'd not get out of this by our selves, so I got onto the radio and claimed the first bottle.

Later, heading up Bunga Arm, we were cruising along beautfully, admiring the scenery. Cherryl asked if anyone wanted a drink and I said 'Is the pope a Catholic?' As she was about to ascend the companionway with the goods the boat came to an abrupt halt. The mast tilted forward, and forward motion at deck level continued at a rapidly decreasing rate, for everything except Cherryl who went arse over tit back down the companionway landing on her back on the saloon table. Now that would have been bad for anyone, but Cherryl was in the process of recovering from back surgery. Just short of arranging for a helicopter evacuation she assured us it was a different vertebra. Whew!

There have been many other memorable incidents in shallow waters. Would I have it any other way? Oh yes! Especially the encounter with Kirby's Wall. The Burnett River was in flood. Just a minor flood according to the official measurements, but it was sufficient to wipe out, or at the very least reposition, all the navigation marks. So in our desperation to get out of the river as soon as possible we left Bundaberg close to the top of the tide. But the current was ripping: we were doing 6 knots without engine or sails. To add to the confusion, our inbound track had been lost due to a computer glitch — we really were winging it in a bad way. Anyway, our speed didn't leave much time for navigation, and in the confusion we sailed over the top of Kirby's Wall. The top of  Kirby's Wall is normally a metre or more above the surface but in the flood it was invisible beneath the turbulent brown water.  The rudder caught on the top of the solid bluestone structure and we were stuck. The tide went out and despite hauling with kedges and dinghies we were there till the next tide. Now tides in the Burnett then were a frightening 2m or more and we wondered seriously whether we'd survive the intervening low tide. The local VMR assured us it would be fine — lots of boats  had been salvaged from the top, or even inside, Kirby's Wall. Very reassuring. It did rather beg the question as to why this wall had not been demolished years ago!

Anyway, we floated off with the next tide so all was well. What is the moral of all this? It can be disastrous to go aground in a storm, pounded onto the shore by a gale. This is something truly to be avoided if you wish to experience arthritis, dementia, parkinsons, heart failure, and all the other joys of a long life; and is not in the same class as the incidents I am amusing you with here. In mild conditions, just follow the standard advice to move through shallow waters on the last part of a rising tide and you can't really go too far wrong. On the other hand, if you're an idiot like me and prefer to run aground on a falling tide, you just have to wait it out. It may be tedious but it's rarely a danger. The hard part is slowing down and waiting for the tide to do its work.


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    Dear Dave!

    Thanks for sending me your last report of your sailing adventures and I am glad to read that every thing went well in the end!
    Love Merete

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    Two types of sailors: 1) Those who have run aground 2) Damn liars

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    It happened to Captain Cook once...

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    How wonderful for us that you got stuck in the mud! It gave you the inspiration for writing this great "Stuck in the mud" story.

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    Hi Paul, I am relieved to hear Captain Cook wasn't a liar.

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    Ohh the joys of tidal flow. Great story - shall be following your wake one day.

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