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Thread: Assisting boats run aground in mud? Reply to Thread
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04-30-2012 03:06 PM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

Having been aground myself, I help when I can, (and I am a power boater, mostly).

If in your estimation, and you are the final judge, you would be placing yourself in danger to help, your best move is to offer to call sea tow for them.

Anyone can run aground, you wouldn't want to be in their shoes watching boat after boat stream by while your keel slowly sinks deeper in the mud.

There was a time I didn't go back to help, and it was for that very reason. I got the call at sunset just as I was clearing the entrance to my marina. I had no provision to run at night, and it would have been 3-4 hours of feeling my way back up the ICW in heavy barge traffic past several tricky bends through a bridge, then down the shipping channel, with less than an hour of light left.

And the boat was safe, (engine didn't start after day of fishing), anchored next to sea park, across from US coast guard station, and didn't want to pay sea tow fee. They had Coast guard on the radio, who then relayed request to all boaters.

I didn't go back, if they had called a couple hours earlier, I was actually near them earlier that day, I would have.

Moral don't wait for dark to call for help.
04-30-2012 01:53 PM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

"The main rationalization for not helping is that "
I seem to recall "rationalizing" means creating an excuse for what we know is the wrong act. So it would appear that you are conflicted over this.
You are under no onbligation to put yourself or your vessel into what you think might be danger (of lawsuit or damage) in order to avoid an inconvenienced vessel. Nor a vessel under distress, although you are obligated to make some attempt to aid the vessel in true distress. If you feel that your only safe response would be to stand by to pick up survivors, and call/radio the situation in to the USCG, that's perfectly valid.
But I think what you feel the conflict about, is your conscience telling you it is time to bank some karma points, by rendering aid when you can safely do so. Hailing them getting some information, and responding might be all you can do. Throwing a line and investing an hour, depends on whether you need to get home to walk the dog, and whether they can survive until the tide comes in.
04-30-2012 01:11 PM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

Be careful if it is an Ericson 27, they have a hollow deep bilge in the back of the keel, going backwards can hole it on something solid . . .!
04-30-2012 01:00 PM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

You might also consider the tide. If it is rising, let them get themselves off, if it is falling, your quick action could save them a lot of trouble or loss of the boat.
04-30-2012 11:10 AM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

Before hauling on a masthead with the halyard, the crew should get all the heavy-weights on one side, hang onto the shrouds and lean outboard. Worked for me.

Another option is row the spare anchor our abeam with the tender. After it is set, attach the main halyard to the rode and harden the halyard. That is the theory - have not tried it.
04-30-2012 10:57 AM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

It's pretty difficult for a sailboat to help another sailboat that's already aground unless they've found a lump with deep water very close. The last thing anyone wants is TWO boats aground, both needing assistance.

But if the crew that's aground can toss a line attached to their halyard then trying to heel the boat off the mud is a reasonable, and not difficult, thing to try assuming reasonable conditions.
04-30-2012 09:23 AM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

If someone has "waved or hailed" you are obligated to at least stop and offer to call for assistance.

You don't have to do anything that you feel might damage your vessel or possibly injure someone. That gives you lots of freedom to make your own decision.

When rendering assistance it's helpful to keep in mind that you are in control. You do not take orders from the vessel in distress. Even if someone is injured, the best thing to do may be to call the experts and stand by till they get there.

I refused to tow a powerboat full of drunks one night. They where taking turns laughing, screaming for help, lighting off flares and acting like idiots. All the while the current was sweeping them out to sea. I did, however, keep an eye on them and stay in contact with the C.G. until help arrived.
04-30-2012 08:49 AM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

Having run aground on a few occasions myself (a hazard of having a deep keel in a relatively shallow area) I have found find that most often folks on power boats will not render assistance although, at least in theory, they are the best equipped to do so. (Some will not even slow down, ignoring the fact that their wakes will "bounce" us on the bottom!). Sailors may try, or be willing to try, but are themselves often constrained by the very shoals I have put myself on.

Most often, my saviors have been small commercial boats, sometimes crewed by a single person, who will swing around, come close aboard, offer a "pluck" if I have a handy line for a tow (I do--because of where we are), or offer to carry out my anchor so I can kedge myself off with a winch or windlass, and advise me where the channel has gotten itself (or on some of the rivers, that the channel marks have gone to inland rules once I passed a certain point).

In view of the foregoing, I generally try to offer assistance to someone if at all possible, sometimes even by standing off up-stream and floating a small messenger line down to the victim with a throwable cushion-pad so they can pass me a line. It usually doesn't take much effort and all are invariably very grateful for the effort, even if unsuccessful.

Now, on the other hand, if someone repeatedly puts himself up on the same shoal--and we do have one fellow that does so regularly as his slip is tide bound and he's too impatient to wait for high-tide most often--we simply wave as we pass by. Some folks have to learn the hard way.

04-30-2012 08:46 AM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

Life saving is mandatory. You might help boats to mud if you like to. The easiest way to tie a line to the head of the mast and pull the boat to her side. This does not require too much horse power. As the boat heels to one side, she can easily reverse by her own engine and saved.
04-30-2012 08:02 AM
Re: Assisting boats run aground in mud?

"Help" can mean a lot of things. Sometimes it can mean simply placing a phone call for one of these grounded people. I'll bet that plenty of them set out without a working VHF and a cell phone with only half a charge.

If someone is in genuine distress and signalling appropriately and you witness it, you are obligated to help, but not necessarily to place yourself at risk. Make a phone or radio call on their behalf, and let them know that you did so. Ask if they have any medical issues. Pass them a first aid kit, if capable of doing so, or inform the CG or local marine patrol if you are not.

For the most part though, it sounds more like you're just not interested in helping.

On one hand, I sympathize with your motivations. There are a lot of idiots on the water, and you're not SeaTow. You're not interested in burning out your little outboard engine, yanking someone out of the mud, or risking damage to your boat, and spending all saving people from themselves.

On the other hand, you yourself have accepted a tow from a skiff that may have had the same concerns. You might consider helping out occasionally, so that you can put a few points in "Vigor's Black Box". It may help you in the future.

John Vigor's Black Box Theory
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