Monday, December 28, 2015

December 16, 2015 Ran aground off of ICW

We had an early start and ate breakfast underway.  The ICW was pretty calm, so I could cook easily.  If you are out on the ocean, it’s best to have meals prepared that only need heating or can be eaten cold.  I will prepare some of those things before we cross to the Bahamas.
removing the snubber-it stops the jerking motion of the anchor chain

successful anchorage
 There was some light fog this morning as we left, but it cleared up and we could feel the temperature rising as we headed south.  We crossed the St John’s River that goes into Jacksonville with no problems.  There is a strong current there and lots of shipping traffic, so it can be hairy. 

We came to a previous anchorage about 3:30 and didn’t want to stop.  So looking ahead, we found an anchorage that we would reach close to sunset, and possibly we would be anchoring in the dark.  Dave was OK with that, so I was too, and we contiuned.

About 5:00 a heavy fog rolled in.  After going through all the air in one can in the fog last December, we hooked up a mechanical fog horn.  It worked great.  If you are  moving, you have to sound a 5 second horn every 2 minutes.  We didn’t see any other boats on the ICW.  Gee, I wonder why?  Now it is approaching sunset and it is foggy.
fog rolling in
do you see the red channel marker?
oh there it is!
opposite side of the channel
We came to the anchorage about 5:30, but misinterpreted the directions.  The place we left the ICW looked fine on the chart plotter, but we quickly hit ground.  And we were near a crab pot.  You don’t want to pick up the line to the crab pot in your prop-can be major damage. 
crab pot too close for comfort

We wiggled around in the muck for a while.  As long as you can move, there is hope that you will work your way free.  A fishing boat with a couple guys came by and asked if we needed help.  There was no way they could pull us free.  And we didn’t really want their help because he was drunk and waving a beer bottle as he was talking to us.  But we did find our that this area was very shallow and there were oyster beds in the area, which explained the “crunch crunch” probably scraping the paint off of our keel.  And that the anchorage we were looking for was just a bit further south, around the next bend. 

Our next thought was to move weight forward on the boat.  We moved 5 10 gallon jerry cans of fuel to the bow which are about 35 lbs each.  And we took the dinghy off of the davits and let it float behind us.  I also stayed out on the bow.  It didn’t seem to make a difference because now it was 6:30 and the tide was going down.  So we resigned ourselves to waiting for low tide at 8:00 and then wait about 3 hours after that to rise and float us off of the bottom.  Dave set an anchor so we wouldn’t go any further into the muck or float into more trouble once we were afloat.  We couldn’t really set an anchor like we usually would.  We would usually motor backwards and make sure it’s holding.  All we could do was drop a pile of chain on top of the anchor and hope we stayed put. 

We went below and made dinner.  I cleaned up the dishes and read or played on my phone, while I had power.  Dave tried to sleep.  About 11:00, I looked out and we had swung 180 degrees and were floating!!!!  I woke Dave and we decided to move to a better anchorage.  We could see a big light heading north on the ICW which would be near us soon.  So we decided to wait for it to pass rather than trying to share the canal in the dark.  It was two large tug boats connected.  They had a huge spot light and were scanning the horizon.  They didn’t call us on the radio when they saw us, just passed by.  They probably thought we were anchored for the night. 

We were able to bring up the anchor and motor back to the channel with no problem.  Just a ways down the ICW, we found 3 other sailboats anchored in the area we should have been.  We motored up between them and found a good spot to anchor.  I usually watch Dave’s hand signals, but couldn’t in the dark.  We made it with a few verbal directions and using a flashlight.  We shut the engine off at 11:50 pm.  10 minutes short of our 38th wedding anniversary.  At no time did we feel we were in any danger.  And neither of us lost our temper.  Both of us were at fault in some way for what happened.  And we learned from the experience.  Life with Dave has always been an adventure and the adventures continue. 

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