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post #5 of Old 08-04-2003
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Wing Keel- pros and cons

One incident would not be considered statistically significant, but I recently grounded my Catalina 350 while motoring down the Severn River towards Annapolis at night at a healthy five knots. I had passed under the U.S. 50 bridge and was lining up to pass under the MD 450 bridge near the Naval Academy. Had the chartplotter on, but was not paying close attention. The Severn from Round Bay down to Annapolis is well marked and all the marks are lighted. However, there is a green day mark about 100-200 yards north of the 450 bridge that is not. The boat is listed as having a 4.5-foot draft and does have a wing keel. Imagine my surprise when the stern raised up a couple of feet as I plowed into what was about 4.1 feet of water, according to my depth meter.

I immediately checked the plotter, saw that I was just inside the green mark and very close to about 16 feet of water. I turned the boat perpendicular to the deeper water and attempted to motor out of the muck. The speedo indicated that I was making some headway, about 0.1 knots SOG. Had the mark to starboard as a reference point. Made no difference if I revved up over 2500 rpms or kept it at 1500; the boat would only move so much, so I obviously opted for the lower rpms. I had the main up, and let it out to port. I would say it took about 20 minutes to get free, but I did manage to do so. Of course, the bottom of the river is very soft. But I was able to free myself without too much trouble.
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