Indian River, which is what this section of the
Intercoastal is called, is extremely shallow except
for the channel dredged down the middle. We
need to keep no less than 2 ft. of water under
our keel, so I kept an eagle eye on the depth meter
as I navigated carefully from one channel marker
to the next.
Off to the side
of the channel we could see fishermen who had left
their motorboat to wade as they fished. The water
appeared to be no more than knee deep on them.
On the St. Johns
in my little Gheenoe I seldom have to worry about
the depth of the water. Being unused to a 4 foot
keel on a boat, I asked Capt. Mike what would happen
if we did run into a sandbar. He replied "We
(I'll bet you
can see this coming, can't you?)
By our charts we could see
a large open area with plenty of deeper water. We
made our way towards this area so we could have plenty
of room to practice "coming about" and "jibbing" and
other cool sailing maneuvers. As we approached the area
where we should turn to enter this open area the winds
increased and I timidly requested the Captain to take
back the wheel as we came about.
and I both neglected to put on sunblock and got
burnt to a crisp.
Capt. Mike took
the wheel and headed towards the open area. We went
along for a short ways, then suddenly the bow dipped
sharply and we stopped. We stopped but good. We had
run aground on a sandbar and were unable to get off
Since our radio
was broke we couldn't radio for assistance. We
tried using the motor to move us either forward
or back, but that didn't help. Capt. Mike jumped
into the water and tried pulling and pushing, but
nothing budged. The water was about 4 feet deep
and we only needed 5 feet! We tried throwing out
the anchor and pulling on the anchor line to free
us from the sandbar - no good.
Pelican on a post
in the marina.
We tried waving
down passing motorboats, but no one would come to
our aid. (I shan't record here the names that I called
them. People on the St. Johns would have come over
We all had cell
phones, so Capt. Mike phoned a marina for a tow but
the tow-boat driver was in Daytona and said it would
be at least two hours before he could get to us.
Since we had tried everything else we could think
of, we ate lunch and stretched out for a nap.
As I lay there
feeling the boat being bounced and rocked by wind
and waves I suddenly realized that the rocking of
the boat felt different. Looking up at my landmarks
I saw that we were moving! The wind and waves had
finally worked us off the sandbar!
Capt. Mike called
to cancel the tow and we quickly weighed anchor and
headed back towards home. We had to circle around
a bit in front of the bridge before they saw that
we needed an opening, but otherwise we had no further
Back in the marina I realized
that I had missed a photo op by not getting a picture
of Capt. Mike neck deep in the water. I tried to
convince him to jump in the water again and let me get
a photo, but he was uncooperative. Luckily he spotted
a Manatee under the dock and distracted me into trying
to get a picture of it instead. My camera is too slow
- every time I would click the shutter it would go back
under water again and I would only get a picture of his
back. Oh, well, I'll just have to keep trying!
A Manatee feeds on grasses
under the dock in the marina.