On The Bottom (Oopsie!) - 20° 17' 02 S, 149° 02' 38" W

They say there are two types of sailors - those who have run aground and those who will! (or 'those who lie about it' is another versions of the saying!). We have run aground in the past, that harrowing time when we put Popeye on a reef in Bawean, Indonesia.  You can read about that fun adventure here!

We were enjoying a stunning day at Whitehaven Beach.  The conditions were idyllic with the sky and the sea competing over who had more shades of blue.  It was our Calgary friends, Gord and Jenny's first Queensland beach and Whitehaven was at her very best.

Popeye happily at anchor off Whitehaven Beach

We had come in just before high tide and anchored in 8m of water - that's 5m under the keel - plenty of water to allow for the almost 2m tide.  

Beautiful Whitehaven Beach

We swam in the clear, warm water and picnicked on the sand.  We walked along the beach to the lookout  and watched rays, turtles and fish frolic in the shallow water.  An idyllic afternoon.

As we were walking back to the boat, something looked a little off.  The anchor chain was at an unusual angle and she sat oddly in the water.  We looked at each other - she couldn't be sitting on the bottom, could she??  Had the anchor dragged? Had we misread the tide? 

We swam out, climbed aboard and looked at the depth sounder.  According to it, we had 2.4m under the keel.  Sean dove to look and there was the keel, sitting firmly on the sand!  The anchor had not dragged, nor had we misread the tide.  The problem was the depth gauge had been changed out for racing and not properly recalibrated after being put back in!  The tide was coming up and we re-floated in no time and moved out to deeper water.

We were very fortunate that it happened on the sand at Whitehaven.  We had been out to the reef and were planning to enter the lagoon at Lady Musgrave, the consequences could have been far worse if we had run her into something more solid.  A big lesson for us is to always check the calibration of the depth gauge when we come back aboard after not sailing Popeye for a while.  It is something you should always do when you charter a boat.  Simply drop a lead line (a weight on the end of some string) to check the depth under the boat and ensure it lines up with the depth sounder.

It was a good reminder, a good lesson and fortunately, no harm done!


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