Aground Part 2

After trying half heartedly to back off whatever I hit I turned off the motor and looked more carefully at the plotters, which showed that I was atop the third island. My Navionics and paper charts also showed a green mark, which I found with my light about 20 feet on my port bow, just a painted stick almost impossible to spot at night. That stake was not shown on the Garmin plotter I had been using when I hit. If it had been I would have had a visual on the stake rather than what I mistakenly thought was the outer island.

I tried shining the light into the water but couldn’t see a lot of detail as there were small waves coming from astern and a lot of shimmering. I was in a sheltered area but there was still a 15 knot breeze.

I was really nervous about hitting the prop so after my initial strong shot of reverse I resolved not to use the motor again until daylight when I hoped to be able to do a proper assessment.

I launched my dinghy and ran my stern anchor out behind the boat (upwind), thinking that I might be able to somehow pull myself off. While the boat wouldn’t budge backwards when I tried hauling on the line I was able to pivot the boat around so that the bow was pretty much facing into the wind, and put tension on the line to hold the boat in that position. There were no sounds of grinding or bumping. Boat would be level with me standing on one side but when I shifted to the other side flopped over 10-15 degrees. And the stern seemed high, probably three inches above the normal waterline. It felt like maybe I was hung up on the rudder skeg, which is the lowest part of the boat. Checked the bilges and no sign of water entry or damage. It was now well after midnight, and I decided to settle in for the night. I climbed into my berth in a heeled boat and slept fitfully until dawn at about 5:45.

At first light I got back to work. Took a long boat hook to gauge depth and could see the bottom quite clearly. The middle of the boat was on a big weathered rock, with deeper water at the bow and stern. The list looked quite dramatic from the dinghy, with one chine completely out of the water. Deep water was close by on the port side, but it seemed that it got shallower for a few feet before dropping off. There were jagged loose stones on the starboard side that I didn’t want to get into.

A couple of boats came by early. One suggested calling 911 and the other was from a local cottage and offered support, including trying to tow me off and told me how to reach him.

I had been looking online at local facilities or authorities that could help. One concern I had was with further damaging or possibly holing the boat trying to get it off. I didn’t want to come off and start sinking. There were no yards close by that seemed equipped to help. There was a coast guard station not far away and I tried calling them on the phone but wasn’t getting an answer even after 8:00. Was considering phoning my insurance agent – I have lots of coverage including towing.

By 8:15 when a third cottager came by I felt I had a better picture of the situation and wanted to act. And these guys – a man and a woman – seemed very calm and competent. They had a very workmanlike boat, a solid aluminum work boat maybe 18 feet long with a 50 hp tiller steered Yamaha. He handled it very well.

After some discussion I asked them to try towing me off. Given their boat I wasn’t concerned with ripping the bottom out through brute force. I was pretty confident that my prop was clear and so had them hook to my stern. After a couple of attempts using my motor and with them pulling the boat slid off. Essentially I had gone on the rock from one side, pivoted almost 180 degrees, and came off the opposite side.

I did a quick check after I came off to make sure I wasn’t taking on water, then headed back inland to the town docks at Pointe au Baril. The boat seemed ok except the rudder seemed to start binding at about ten degrees one way and about 25 the other. I went slow. Got into PaB late morning, grabbed a fish and chips and had a two hour nap. Beautiful day in off the big lake.

When I woke up I looked at the inside rudder and steering gear carefully. All seemed undamaged and solid. The PO had a new stern tube put in and had beefed up the top support considerably and all seemed to be in good order. Sarah and Samantha arrived that evening, having accommodated my sudden change in plans. We slept at the town dock. I was pretty zonkered. Lots of adrenaline in the preceding 24 hours.

Here’s the area. The lighthouse and entrance to the lake are on the top left and the rock I got hung up on is shown as land on the lower right. Inside the mark that wasn’t on my Garmin map.

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