I have to admit, I love going to Sam’s for lunch! It’s a great destination that isn’t far off my typical day sail around the bay. Unfortunately, there is the “hate” side of the relationship also. I hate being stuck in the mud, and this dock is one of the easiest on the bay for this to happen to you!
This weekend really drove that point home. Three Tradewinds boats got stuck there at low tide over the New Year’s holiday weekend! It seems there were (and will be) minus tides on the 1st through the 7th, all in the late afternoon. Which means you can pull into the dock in the early afternoon for lunch and have plenty of water. Unfortunately, while eating, the water goes away, leaving your keel stuck. The only way off is to wait until the tide comes back in enough to float the boat.
How can that possibly happen?
- It’s important to know that there is only about 4.5 feet of water at the end of the dock at a zero tide.
- Yesterday, January 4, low water of -0.7′ was at 5:09PM.
- One of the boats that got stuck has a keel depth of 5.2 feet, which means that at low tide, the keel was about 1.4 feet into the mud, and not going anywhere. Knowing how the tides work on the bay, the lowering tide probably put the keel into the mud at about 3:00PM, and it didn’t come out until about 7:30PM
And more importantly, how can I avoid it in the future?
- First, know what the tides are doing!!! Ask yourself “Am I planning to leave Sam’s at a lower tide then when I arrived?”
- Use the depth sounder to determine water depth when you arrive. You need to know how the depth sounder reads in relationship to actual water depth. The sounder may be calibrated to read from the surface of the water, the level of the transducer, or the bottom of the keel. Use a lead line to figure out for sure (talk to a Tradewinds staff member if you aren’t sure how.)
- Remember, at a zero tide, there is only 4.5 feet of water at the end of Sam’s docks. That depth gradually decreases to about 2 feet as you move down the dock towards shore.
One last thought. Sam’s is 6.5 miles from D Dock. Traveling at 5 knots, that’s almost an hour and a half. If sunset is at 4:54PM, you need to be on the way home no later than 3:30PM to be back at the dock before sunset (and that doesn’t include time needed to pump the holding tank!