Running Aground

A great article in Yachting Monthly had some wonderful tips on what to do in the event of running aground. Here are some notes


  • Check the charts, and know the tide for the places you are sailing
  • know your exact position
  • If unsure, proceed slowly
  • Use your eyes or follow other yachts of a similar or larger size
  • Watch your depth sounder for clues


  • Change direction immediately – bear away, tack, turn away from the shallow area you have hit
  • Hang off the shrouds to try and heel the yacht reducing the draught
  • Start the engine and try to motor off
  • Put on life jackets and put the crew on the end of the boom – put the halyard and topping lift on the end for extra security Check the gooseneck, run a line forward and a line astern from the end of the boom to stop it swinging.
  • Lift the floorboards and check the bilge and keelboats to ensure there are no leaks
  • Check the chart to see what the seabed composition is, get your position and ascertain where the deeper water lays
  • Check the tide
  • Launch the dinghy and lower the anchor and chain in to the dinghy. Row it out to deeper water to set. Put one anchor out on your bow in the deeper water, and the spare anchor back along the line you were sailing in on, a trip line can be useful if this method doesn’t work. Try to winch the cable attached to this anchor to pull you back along your track.
  • The anchor can also be used in conjunction with a halyard to try and winch it off while generating heel at the same time.
  • Ask a passing motor boat to motor around you and try to use their wake to lift you off
  • If that doesn’t work you could request a tow – use your own line to avoid any potential salvage issues.
  • If you are still stuck – call the Coastguard and advise your predicament, you are going to have to wait for the tide to come back in!
  • If you are on a lee shore you should set your anchor in deeper water to prevent being washed up the beach when the tide rises.
  • However you will want to make sure that your mast lies towards the shallows – if you don’t then you could risk down flooding when the tide returns. You will need to heel her over – another anchor and halyard can be used.
  • Protect the hull when the tide goes out – use fenders, bunk cushions, sleeping bags – whatever you can find as padding
  • Close all seacocks, hatches and potentially you might need to stop water coming up the exhaust. Secure things inside that may fall when the yacht is on its side.
  • Check the hull, keel and rudder for any damage
  • Consider cleaning the water filter – engine intake if you have stirred up the bottom so much that anything might be stuck in there.
  • Watch the weather forecast
  • The shapes to show are three balls or two all round red lights

4 thoughts on “Running Aground

  1. Pingback: Ocean Yachtmaster | Astrolabe Sailing

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  4. Pingback: RYA Offshore Yachtmaster | Astrolabe Sailing

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