Today's challenge would be crossing the unpredictable Abelmarle Sound. If wind and tide are wrong, it can be pretty rough. The forecast was callinf for 3-4 kt southerly winds and light chop. What we actually got was 10-14 kt winds and 1 - 2 ft waves! It made for a bumpy and wet ride at first, but as we approached the southern side it calmed down considerably.
Then, as we were leaving the Sound and entering the Alligator River, we had that quintessentially ICW experience: we ran aground.
I made the typical first-timer mistake of following the "magenta line" (its how the ICW is marked on the charts) instead of watching the other boats and the local marks. We draw 4 1/2 feet, and our depth sounder alarm goes off at 6 feet. This typically gives me only seconds of warning, and this time was no exception. We hit at 5 kts and stopped hard. Full reverse wouldn't budge us. So, I put the rudder over hard, and used the prop wash against it to spin us on our stubby shoal-draft keel. This worked, and I was then able to use forward to get us off and find some deeper water. It was (literally) touch and go for a while, as we "bump, bump, bumped" along over the uneven bottom. At one point, we fetched up hard against another ridge, and had to pivot again to get around it.
I later realized that we were lucky. We were just past high tide, and had we failed to get off, would have been stranded there until the next high tide!
Other than that, we had a great day. Even got in some motor sailing with the jib on the Alligator River (we looked and looked, but no Alligators ;) ). Anchored in a nice cove at the southern end of the river.
|Sunset on the Alligator River|