Today I watched the grounding of the sailing vessel Monna.
Several hundred yards from us she came to a sudden and violent stop when her keel hit a rock.
I was watching her at the moment of impact. The bow went down and the stern came up out of the water. I still can’t believe she didn’t tear the keel off and sink right there.
We were anchored in the Muirhead Island group at the end of Drury Inlet, a long way from anywhere, especially any kind of quick help.
When we arrived yesterday we had the place to ourselves, which was surprising considering the sunny day. But as the tide changed, quite a few boats began to show up. Most passed the islands by for a large (and rock free) anchorage a half mile away. Most boats that is.
The approaching sailboat looked to be about 45 to 50 feet long, threading his way through the islets, taking it slow. The small cove we were in really wasn’t large enough to handle two boats swinging on anchor, and my fear was someone would try to fit in anyway. As the sailboat approached I was hopeful he would pass us by.
No such luck.
His intent was obvious as he turned towards us. It never occurred to me he was turning too soon to avoid the rocks at the entrance. I was watching closely as the 10 to 15 ton sailboat came to a jarring halt. The captain disappeared, I’m guessing thrown from the wheel.
The noise it made was surprisingly loud. I imagine anything not bolted down inside was now on the floor. The captain was quickly up and started backing away ever so slowly. Soon they turned back into the channel.
I hailed them several times on the radio to see if they needed assistance, but I never got a reply. They were probably too busy checking for damage. I could see that no one was wearing a life jacket, nor did they put them on after the collision. If his wife had been on the bow, getting the anchor ready, she would of been tossed into the water.
At a snails pace they headed out of danger to the larger anchorage just north of us.
Why did it happen? I don’t know. Was the captain distracted for a few moments as he tried to figure out where he could anchor? Did his chart plotter fail to show the rocks? He obviously made a decision to turn into the cove, but why too soon? Simple carelessness?
Our chart plotter records our path, so I took a look to see how close to those rocks we had come. The safe entrance was about 400 feet wide and I had stayed safely in the middle. The rocks were marked on the chart and we never came close.
That may have been true twenty years ago, but with high definition chart plotters fitting on your phone and GPS accurate to 16 feet, it’s hard to imagine anyone running aground unless they just aren’t paying attention.
And no. I’ve never run aground.
And yes. We always wear our life jackets when in transit. Always.