Who me? Grounded? Yeah right! You can't ground me! Just like tangling your balls... this too is a taboo. No one has ever done it, yet they all have seen it. Same story, different situation. It's kind of funny when you think about it. It seems that anything that falls in the "sailing fat, dumb, and happy" (FDH) category of mistakes is seemingly never admitted to. So be it. Just know that if it can be done... it has been. There are some very interesting combinations you may never dream up but you too may some day "see." And yes... the Mayday Crew did get grounded, once. But we have a sneaky feeling it won't be the last.
Goes like this...
The day was winding down and the crew had its pick of some great overnight spots from our location in the Sir Francis Drake Channel. After much debate the crew voted for The Last Resort. It's a nice little "resort" (more of a restaurant / bar), situated on its own little island (rock) in the middle of Trellis Bay on Tortola. We had never bothered to stop in over the years, but we had this place recommended so many times we had to check it out. So we did. It looked like a good place to spend the night and do some re-provisioning in the morning.
We had never moored here before, so we were careful to check our charts and cruising guides. We quickly learned that it was a tight mooring field and we knew from previous visits to Trellis by car that the mooring field was always packed with yachts and other things that once may have been a yacht-something-or-other. Not to mention the shoals on both sides. We were going to have to plan our line as we got closer in and pick a ball early in the going to make sure we had a clear path and enough room to maneuver once we got there. A wide Catamaran is not your friend in these tight places.
As we entered the Captain called the ball. He had picked a mooring a bit further out (closer to the open water than the shoreline), but it was still in a protected area. The only down side. We had also planned on doing a bit of shopping in Trellis Bay. Ice, Food, water, beer, snacks.. the usual. This meant we would have to drive the dinghy in through the majority of the mooring field.
The crew completed the mooring procedure without a hitch. The Captain shut the engines down and got ready to do a bit of relaxing.
It was at this point one of the crew realized the length of the dinghy drive to get to the docks and began scanning the field for a closer spot. And one was found. She spoke to the Captain and other crew about the idea of moving closer. El Captain was happy where they were and just glad to not be navigating in that narrow and shallow maze. However, he said he would go with whatever the crew decided. Two of the crew were on board with the move, two were indifferent, and we knew where the Captain stood. So the vote results were in. Time to move. So off they went.. engines on and mooring line cast off. They were on the move again. The only path to the "chosen" ball was to skirt the edge of the shoals. The captain checked the map, charts, and guides constantly checking his position. As they came alongside the shallows... they heard the sound of sand... you know, the same sound you hear when you're beaching a Hobie Cat. Something like that. Then the boat came to an abrupt stop.
The engines were immediately thrown in neutral, but not shut off. The crew scattered on the deck to assess the situation. We were glad to see the charts were somewhat right. It WAS a sandy bottom. At least that's good. Unfortunately for us the chart also said we were about 20 ft. off the shallows. Apparently they had moved.
Here's the kicker. We were grounded right next to the bar at the Last Resort. We attracted a very helpful crowed that was only happy to yell their "words of encouragement" through the entire ordeal while they called their friends to come see.
This was actually a good sign. If they all came rushing to help it would have meant we were in real trouble... not to mention all the beer we would have to buy for the assistance! Rules are rules.
After careful inspection we came to the conclusion that we were grounded.
Ok.. Good. So.. we're grounded. Our Captain muttered... glad we got that figured out. Obviously a bit pissed he got talked into moving the boat in the first place... but he still knew, it was his fault ultimately. If the path to the new ball didn't look good enough to him, he should have spoken up. And he knew it. But he went with the groupthink anyway. And though he was being as careful as he could be, in the end.. It was a "fat, dumb, and happy" (FDH) moment. True... he didn't take anything for granted while moving to the new ball, but by being lazy and not objecting to move the entire yacht through a tight mooring field just to shorten a dingy ride by 60 seconds was a "FDH" moment.
Ok... time for redemption... let's get off this thing.
After inspecting the bow and the stern of the yacht we could see we had various options. The props were in clear water. The bow was sitting on a small sand bar.
We had not been moving very quickly when we ran up on the sand bar and knew we were not too deep into it. We could also see our hull was in good shape. Not even a scratch. All this added up to a simple solution. Back off the sandbar under power.
With the engines still running we put it in reverse with two people on the stern on watch and one on the bow watching the "beach / bow relationship."
The Captain eased on the power. Pushing both engines to pull us off.
But they didn't.
Time for step 1.2
Rock it off. We had two engines to work with.. first a bit of the starboard engine and then a bit of the port. Back and forth in reverse. Rocking the hulls side to side in reverse. We then slid smoothly off.
The Captain proceeded directly to the mooring ball we just left. Whether it was the easiest to get back to or just a bit of "in your face," who can tell. From then on, when the Captain called the ball... it was "that" ball. Besides, dinghy rides go by pretty fast anyway.
- Charter Review: The Moorings 5800 Ocean Suite by Captain Kev
- Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 520 Silver Lining by Capt. Kev