I had some excitement on Saturday when my solo return from Lymington to Poole took somewhat longer than expected due to the wind/sea that had got up (as forecast) through the afternoon. As a result, the tide (low spring) in Poole was somewhat lower than I had calculated on but I decided nonetheless to try to get home into Parkstone Bay Marina where access is theoretically not possible at low water springs. In the past, I have always been able to get in by trimming the engine right up and putting one or two crew at the front of the boat to keep the nose down (and, therefore, engine up). Using this method, I have certainly got in on lower tides than the tide as it was on Saturday.
In the absence of any crew, however, there was no additional weight to keep the nose down and with the engine therefore low the prop duly hit the muddy bottom about 100m from the (dredged) marina entrance. No damage done, but with a strong wind from behind, I couldnít get enough power on to bring the boat round into the wind in the narrow channel (moored boats each side) and so exit without the prop hitting the mud again.
A very slow exit in reverse was therefore the only solution and, with the tide still falling and evening coming on, I eventually got to the end of the channel where the boats are moored and tried again to turn into the wind. As the boat started to come round, however, the engine stopped. Two attempts to restart it failed and with the GPS indicating that I wasnít drifting, I concluded that I was aground. In an effort to find out which part of the boat was aground, I tried punting the boat in a variety of directions with one of the on board paddles. The depth of the water was about 1m. No joy. I therefore concluded that I must be aground on the prop which I lifted to find that a thick mooring rope was tightly wrapped around it with a length of anchor chain attached to it (and presumably the sea bed) only four inches from the prop!
Given that Iím writing this, I obviously extricated myself and, I am pleased to report, without damage to the boat. There are a couple of things that I might do slightly differently next time (like not attempt a solo entrance at low tide!
) but I am reasonably happy with what I did. What would you have done?
I look forward to your views in the hope that further lessons may be learned.