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Old 11-11-2013, 09:58 AM   #1
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Engage brain before boarding

This was a weekend I will never forget. I screwed up more in 48 hours than I have in 20 years. I came from an industry where we shared our error so others could learn, buts some of this is just embarrassingly stupid.
We left ZYC around 0745 for the Cambridge Belgian Beer Festival. Once out in the bay the steering was sloppy and the auto pilot was snaking the boat up the bay. I decided to press on and run without auto. Steering was loose but was controllable. Two mile from the Cambridge marina I ran aground off Howell point. I was complacent and too involved in compensating for the steering issue. I routinely go outside the markers around the Chesapeake with my 3’3” draft cutting the straight line to my destination. I was pre-occupied with the sloppy steering and I wasn’t looking at my paper charts as I always do. I had the chart plotter on 12 miles and the detail wasn’t there for me to see the bar in the river ¾ mile off the point. I have been up the river about six times in the last four years. When we ran aground at 1230 we had two hours before low tide. We called Boat US and they dispatched out of Kent Narrows and arrived at 1415, we were now in two feet of water all around the boat. The tow pulled on Fryedaze from 1430 to 1900 when the tide finally gave us enough lift to get off. As we were coming off the tow captain call and said he was going to take us to a crawl as we went across what he called “boulders”. I could hear the gear slowly rolling over the stones as we went over the edge of the bar. The tow pulled us up to seven knots to clear any possible debris in the raw water intakes and we started engines and checked things out. Everything looked and sounded OK so we left the tow and proceeded to the marina which we arrived at 2030.
I got up the next day and added about four ounces to the upper helm steering and the steering issue was fixed. The system had a very small leak and it was low and air binding. I checked the sea strainers and found nothing in them. At 0745 we departed and headed down the river. About 15 minutes into our trip the engine temp alarms went off and I immediately shut down the port engine. I bet most of you already know WTF I did wrong. Yep, I didn’t reopen the port through hull and had no raw water for the engine. I opened it, restarted the engine but after 2-3 minutes I didn’t see temps dropping so I shut her down and did some more inspections. I decided to let her cool down and would try later. We ran on single engine down the bay and at about 1230 I tried the port engine again. I put my hand on the raw water pump after about a minute and it was getting warm instead of cold from the 55 degree water, so I shut the engine down and ran home without it. My guess is I wasted the impeller. Once back in port I gave backing the boat into the slip with one engine a try. The wind was blowing a steady 20 kts so I decided I would give it one shot and then fall back to bow first if I didn’t make it. Well bow first it was.
Not sure what happened to my brain this weekend but I sure didn’t bring it along on the boat. I missed drinking a bunch of good beers. Stressed my port engine. Ran up a $2400 tow bill, which I didn’t have to pay due to Boat US insurance, and more than likely caused damage to the running gear on my boat. The captain sure was a bozo this day.
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:22 AM   #2
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Yikes-ee-momma...thanks for sharing your pain so others may learn. Always a noble thing.

I used to play at rock climbing, and heard stories of people for whatever reason losing track of what they were doing and rappelling right off the end of the ropes into the void...at least you got to live and learn!
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:39 AM   #3
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You're a man of singular courage to share your story. Only two kinda folks out there...those who have, and those who will. Thanks.
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:53 AM   #4
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I don't have Boat US insurance, but do belong to Boat US and have their towing package included in the membership. Would this have covered the tow cost?
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:01 AM   #5
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Would this have covered the tow cost?
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:14 AM   #6
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I don't have Boat US insurance, but do belong to Boat US and have their towing package included in the membership. Would this have covered the tow cost?
We have Boat US Unlimited Gold towing service. I pay $172 a year.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:18 AM   #7
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I don't have Boat US insurance, but do belong to Boat US and have their towing package included in the membership. Would this have covered the tow cost?
Here is the easy answer.
Boat Towing Plans and Prices - BoatUS
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:21 AM   #8
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Thanks Dave; I was confused, got the Monday Morning haze going on.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:24 AM   #9
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I don't have Boat US insurance, but do belong to Boat US and have their towing package included in the membership. Would this have covered the tow cost?
Not likely. That is for "soft" ungroundings. I do not think this would be considered "soft".
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:46 AM   #10
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Not likely. That is for "soft" ungroundings. I do not think this would be considered "soft".
Had to look that one up. It was a soft ungrounding.
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Soft ungroundings are “any operation not involving immediate peril to the boat or to a legally protected marine environment and requiring only one towing vessel with lines attached to the grounded boat to refloat it or to the disabled boat to tow it.”. Basically, it is where the vessel can not move from its position under its own power. For soft ungroundings, your insurance provider would not need to be involved.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:31 PM   #11
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Had to look that one up. It was a soft ungrounding.
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Soft Ungroundings

Soft ungroundings are “any operation not involving immediate peril to the boat or to a legally protected marine environment and requiring only one towing vessel with lines attached to the grounded boat to refloat it or to the disabled boat to tow it.”. Basically, it is where the vessel can not move from its position under its own power. For soft ungroundings, your insurance provider would not need to be involved.
While you certainly have an argument reference their definition, working for 4.5 hours to get your boat unstuck....I would personally consider it to be hard aground.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:37 PM   #12
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Could this be considered a salvage operation and involve a claim for 25% of the hull value?
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:48 PM   #13
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Could this be considered a salvage operation and involve a claim for 25% of the hull value?
It would be hard to call it a salvage. Neither boat and crew or environment wast in peril. High tide was at 2045, at which time I would have floated off the bar.
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Old 11-11-2013, 02:26 PM   #14
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It would be hard to call it a salvage. Neither boat and crew or environment wast in peril. High tide was at 2045, at which time I would have floated off the bar.
.
Not trying to be a Monday-morning quarterback, just curious why you didn't wait for the tide to (gently) float you off? I'm only asking because it seems like it would be a good option, as opposed to dragging it across the bar after the tide had already dropped quite a bit. If it was two hours before low at grounding, she should float free in 4-5 hours, right?
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Old 11-11-2013, 02:31 PM   #15
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fryedaze... you are not alone. I was heading to a nice little anchorage, doing just fine "cutting the corner" as I only draw 3' and for some reason didn't take into consideration a full moon (extra low tide)

Then just to make things less perfect, I forgot that heading into that bayou meant the marker colors changed. Oh, I was doing okay (not bad at least, and not aground) until I spotted that marker and tucked "inside it" and to my consternation ended up aground.

Fortunately the tide was incoming (why does a rising tide take so much longer than a falling one?!) so I could sit there and pretend I'd meant to do this. There were of course a lot of keel marks in the grass so at least I had the comfort of knowing I wasn't the only person who thinks her aft end is smaller than it is!

Thanks your story. Isn't TowBoatUS great? I knew the guy who ran the Fernandina franchise in FL (yes, I had his number in my cell phone, but at least it wasn't on speed dial) -- Rich said he had the best job in the world as every time he showed up people were glad to see him. How great is that?
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Old 11-11-2013, 02:51 PM   #16
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Old 11-11-2013, 02:52 PM   #17
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PS....you're not aground until you run out of rum!!!...jus sayin'!!!
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Old 11-11-2013, 03:28 PM   #18
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Dave - Thank you very much for sharing that story of repeat dismay. I sure hope your boat's under belly equip fared well and your heated engine is OK... i.e., not becoming too costly!

I'm going to read parts of this thread to several in my family who simply do not understand why I am so paranoid of shoal waters and do my damnedest to avoid them.

You're a champ for being able to assist other boaters by showing your mistakes... we all make em sometimes... many of us have difficulty coping to em though! Obviously you don't
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Old 11-11-2013, 04:07 PM   #19
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Dave,
some day's you wish you stayed in bed..
Hopefully today is better
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Old 11-11-2013, 04:26 PM   #20
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Whoaaaaa on the salvage, soft groundings and such....

Any tow company that has to work 4+ hours on a tow could have easily called it salvage if you wanted off...peril or not...they could have charged you for it despite being a tow member.

The difference in Sea Tow and Boat US is how the franchise pay is set up. Sea Tow franchises pocket the majority of member dues while Boat US it all goes to their National Org. No Sea Tow franchise owner is gonna let his captain pull on you for 4+ hours...the boat will come, assess and leave it it ain't gonna happen. Boat US franchises will tend to stay many times and pull, because all their time is billed back to their National HQ. So the longer they stay, the more money they make.

Boat US basic membership that covers $50 or so will barely let you get through a phone call to them...you have to get towing insurance if you want to ever be towed/ungrounded for free.

I left at sunset yesterday to unground a 45 foot power cat. The site was about 7 miles away through some long no wake zones....before I left I told my boss that the chances of me getting him off based on his position was not likely, but we go anyway...like most/all franchises. Sure enough, he was hard aground and I would be stuck if I stayed more than a few minutes. The professional captain aboard and I discussed his exit route and by the time was all said and done...we decided that I needed to come back near high tide which was well after midnight.

I went back earlier after studying the tide cycle, pulled him off and across all the sandbars till we were in deep channels leading to a marina. Unfortunately it was shortly after midnight and the ICW bridge was unmanned and we had to reverse course southbound on the ICW several miles...running the unmarked channels (because the USCG pulled the channel buoys for the winter) and headed to the next town south where I got him tied up at a marina.

The whole ordeal as far as boat towing insurance could have stopped back when I showed up and decided he had to wait for the next tide...that's what membership usually covers. A non member would have paid the franchise I work for $700 for me to show up and tell him what I knew when I was safe back on my trawler before ever leaving the dock...ungrounding wasn't gonna happen with the rapidly falling tide. As it turns out...I did the return trip as agreed upon, soft ungrounded the Cat and led him to a safe dock (slightly outside my area of coverage) and the bill to him was zero, as a non member he would have paid $1940.

For all posters...be aware that travelling the NJ ICW after Oct 15th you may encounter areas where navigation buoys are pulled, lights are removed from daymarks and bridges are allowed to close till morning after a given time in the evening...I think it's outrageous!!! There are still local here that need those services let alone any travelers that may have no idea that the government would abandon part of the US intracoastal system...sorta like shutting down bridges, tolls and lights on the US Highway system without notice.
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