Run aground? Try kedging off
If you find yourself aground on a soft bottom, you might be able to free your boat by kedging off, or setting an anchor in deeper water and pulling the boat toward it, either mechanically or by hand.
First, ensure your crew and boat are sound. Then determine what’s underneath the boat. If you’re on rocks and didn’t hole your boat, you might if you try to move it. Your best bet may be to call a professional.
Stuck on a soft bottom?
Float your anchor out on life preservers or take it out in a dinghy.
If using a dinghy, wear life jackets, make the bitter end fast to the stranded vessel, and put the rode in the dinghy. Pay out the rode while moving into deeper water to set the anchor.
Before kedging, determine which part of the boat would be easiest to free and where the deeper water lies. If the bow is grounded on the edge of a shoal, kedging to the opposite side of the bow can swing the bow around and free it from the bottom.
If the bow is grounded head on, kedging off the stern while attempting to back the boat by applying slow, steady power might help as long as you’re sure your propeller and rudder can move freely. Try applying power and rocking the boat while pulling on the rode, making sure the rode doesn’t foul the prop.
On a sailboat?
You can rig a line from high on the mast to an anchor set off the beam. (A spinnaker halyard’s swivel fitting works well for this.) Pulling from a high spot may tip the boat enough to free it from the bottom. Just don’t put too much strain on the line; you don’t want to damage the rigging or jam the block at the masthead. If all else fails, call a professional to free your boat safely.
Anchoring with Assurance
Learn how to anchor safely with these useful tips and tricks. Take our online Anchoring with Assurance seminar.