Join Date: Apr 2009
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Dragged across a sandbar -- how worried should I be and what should I look for?
I read a thread about the possible damage from hitting a solid object at full speed, and it got me worried about a similar situation my wife and I faced last summer on our 30' boat. Can anyone please chip in their thoughts?
We were under sail on the Columbia River one afternoon and accidentally carved our way into sandy 4ft shallows (we have a 6-ft draft with a lead fin keel). When we tried to tack back into the center of the river we realized our mistake, but now we were well and truly stuck. Luckily a passing powerboater stopped to try and tow us back into the deeper water, but unluckily he didn't have a lot of finesse. He ended up dragging our boat probably 20-30 yards straight across the shallows, faster than I would have liked. The bumping and shuddering of the boat was the most terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I tried to comfort myself with the thought that this was only soft sand.
Once freed, we tested the keel gingerly by taking shallow heels, and the keel appeared to be stiff still. No leaks appeared, and the heads of the keel bolts look no different than they did before. We haven't yet swum underneath to check for cracks, and we're debating a haul-out this spring to fully assess what may have been damaged.
My question to you all is: how likely is it that this experience caused damage? How bad could it be? What should I look for either in a swim-under or a haul out to better know if there's a problem to be addressed? For reference, our hull is cold-molded cedar-stripped, encapsulated with fiberglass.
Thanks for your help,