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post #34 of Old 11-01-2012
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Re: Sailing Darwin awards

Wow-- how about a little lightening up. The following story was sent to me by a friend in Daytona Beach, describing how, last April, he watched a boat in the ICW run aground 5 times within 48 hours and 1-1/2 miles. A little lengthy, but a good read.

In the winter we live on the intracoastal waterway just south of a bridge in Daytona Beach. The intracoastal channel is only about 75 yards wide here. Wide enough for big boats to pass, it is marked by the typical red and green channel markers, so that you can stay in the 7 to 8 foot deep water. BUT, go a few feet to the east of the red or west of the green markers and it is only 2 feet deep.

So, Friday afternoon a lovely 40 foot Grand Banks Trawler named ‘Old Timer’ driven and crewed by two gents looking to be pretty young (50’s) motor past our condo on the way North for the summer. As they approached the bridge they wandered to the west of the green mark and just before the bridge ran hard aground – yuck! It was about 3 in the afternoon and as I sat at this computer teaching my Northwood U course, I got to observe the chaos. It was high tide, with the tide beginning to go out, so every thirty minutes or so the boat sat higher out of the water, harder aground. It was about an hour before the SeaTow boat showed up to rescue Old Timer. The SeaTow captain tied a line and began to pull. Full power on the twin engines and after about thirty minutes it was apparent that Old Timer was there until the next high tide. SeaTow motored off into the sunset and the gents on Old Timer settled in for the night. (Note for those of you who are boaters, ‘of course they did not put out an anchor, they were hard aground’). Next high tide would be at 6 am Saturday morning.
In this photo yo can see how close to the channel the shallow shoal water is. While Old Timer sits aground to the right, the boat to the left is motoring North toward the bridge in DEEP water.
When the sun came up Saturday morning, a look off our balcony showed that Old Timer had indeed floated off the shoal at high tide. But, with the wind from the west and the crew apparently still asleep, old timer blew across the deep channel and ran aground again on the east side ! By the time the guys woke, the tide was going out and they were hard aground for the 2nd time with in 16 hours J Again with in a few hours, SeaTow showed up with a boat and a line to drag them off. One hour later, SeaTow motored away again after failing to budge Old Timer from the east shoal of the Daytona Beach channel. They would have to again wait for the next high tide about 5:00 pm Saturday night.

Around 4:30 pm SeaTow again showed up with line and boat. With in fifteen minutes Old Timer was free of the shoal and floating in the channel ! SeaTow escorted them into our harbor to the fuel docks and left. About thirty minutes later the gents on Old Timer motor her out of our channel to continue their trip North. Two channel markers BEFORE the end of our channel to the intracoastal, they turned North and ran aground for the 3rd time in 26 hours!!! But, this was their lucky day as the tide was still going up and within about thirty minutes they floated free and exited to the intracoastal. We went to dinner with my great friend John Radatz.

After dinner, just before dark, a look off our balcony showed that the gents aboard Old Timer must have been worn out form the experience, so they anchored for the night, just on the edge of the east side of the intracoastal, less than 100 yards form where they had been aground that morning, but this time on the deep side of the shoal. They put out an anchor, to the east (yes, the shallow side) and turned in.

Sunday morning at day break, a look toward Old Timer showed that a wind shift, during night, from the west had blown them TOWARD their anchor and they were hard aground for the 4th time. One of the gents got in the dinghy that they towed behind Old Timer and started working on the anchor and god knows what else, as the other gent(the dumber one) stayed at the helm of Old Timer to run the controls and steer. It was only about an hour and they freed themselves from the shoal and gent number two motored the boat off the shoal into the 7 foot channel. While gent #1 in the dingy tried and tried to free the anchor that they had set the night before, gent #2 at the helm, put Old Timer into neutral and went below. As the wind blew the boat back into the shallow water, with no one at the helm, the guy working with the dingy lost the painter and the dinghy began to blow away. RUNNING in water only as deep as his knees, he ran down the escaping dinghy as Old Timer, with no one driving, blew behind him, back onto the shoal.
Old Timer aground for the fifth time awiats the Sunday evening hige tide, just across from our condo balcony.
By 11 am Sunday Old Timer sat hard aground, ten feet from the intracoastal channel, for the 5th time in less than 48 hours, all within the same mile and a half in Daytona Beach. As I finish this writing, Old Timer is aground and awaiting the next high tide at 7 pm tonight, Sunday.

Mark Smith
1977 C&C 30 Mk 1 hailing from Port Clinton, Ohio
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