Dragged across a sandbar -- how worried should I be and what should I look for? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 01-03-2012
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Dragged across a sandbar -- how worried should I be and what should I look for?

Hi all,
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,
Jeff
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Old 01-03-2012
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Sand generally will not cause any problems even at full speed. Most probably your keel has nothing to worry. Be careful with rock. Hitting a rock will cause severe problems.
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Old 01-03-2012
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If you have checked for leaks and found none, You probably just scrapped off your bottom paint.
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Old 01-03-2012
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If you want to be 100% sure, haul the boat and have a surveyor examine the boat.

Or you might have a professional diver take a look.

Fin keels to not respond well to be torqued.

At least pull up the floorboards and check the stringers for delamination.
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Last edited by jackdale; 01-03-2012 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 01-03-2012
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The stress you put on it is probably nothing compared to sailing in a storm, or hitting something hard like a rock. The most likely damage is to the paint. If it was me, and I had a bottom job coming up, I might bring it forward just to see if the keel is in need of paint and to be quite sure there are no structural issues.

This is one of those "length of a piece of string" questions as a minority of boats can have issues with the keel to hull joint at the best of times, while other models never do.
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Old 01-03-2012
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I'm with jackdale. Do a short haul to check the joint and keel, check the stringers. If that looks good, put it back in and enjoy.
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Old 01-03-2012
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We've bumped bottom a few times in Barnegat Bay. Doesn't seem to have bothered anything.
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Old 01-04-2012
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Thanks everyone! I feel much better.
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