Newbie woes of skinny water sailing

Newbie woes of skinny water sailing

Like a baby in her mother’s arms, the moment the rocking stopped, I woke up.  We knew something wasn’t right.  Because when you live on a boat, the world is never still.  There is always water lapping against the hulls, a current steadily pulling and the wind blowing us this way and that.

The sounds were all there but the movement wasn’t.  I knew exactly what was going on, our hulls were sitting on the sea floor.  I slapped my palm onto my forehead and then shook it off.  We’re newbie sailors, these types of woes are expected. Right?

I wish I could say that it won’t happen again but I know it will.  It’s like getting that first ding in your car door.  Now that it’s happened we can relax and stop parking at the far end of every lot trying to avoid it.

Sailors call the shallows “skinny water”.  It’s something we’re going to have to get comfortable sailing in because we have a lot of it in our future (especially in the Bahamas).  Turns out, we picked the perfect training grounds inside Biscayne National Park.

I am still itching from all those bug bites!  Florida has a competition going on between the mosquitoes and the no-see-ums for most blood drawn. We humans are the unfortunate judges.

Skinny Water Sailing

What a day!  It was mother nature’s way of showing us yet again that timing is everything and we are always on her schedule.  If we’re going to be sailing through an area with skinny water, we know not to even bother attempting it at anything other than high tide.  It was a good lesson learned in a forgiving environment on nice calm day.  We’ll take it, she could have made it a lot worse on us!

blue skies and full sails


The storms we’ve experienced so far have been mild.  We haven’t seen winds above 32 knots or waves above 6-8 feet. We know this will change one day in the future so we are thankful for every mini-squall we get to experience.

When we arrived at the exact same time as the squall we decided not to attempt to drop the anchor while there were ground strikes happening all around us. Instead we turned our head to wind and motored at idle speed to keep things on the boat comfortable and in control (we’d already dropped our sails to anchor). We’ve been told this is the best way to survive a storm at sea, so we use these little squalls to get to know our boat and how it handles in different conditions.

sailing in a storm
curiosity in a squall

Sadly, the storms lasted a little longer than we hoped for and left us heading back to our anchorage in the dark.

rainy day at sea

Anchoring Issues

I bet you are wondering how our night went?  Well, we did sleep a little with one eye open and checked our position every ½ hour (Jason set his phone alarm to wake us).  We have an old CQR and sometimes it takes a lot of attempts to get it to set and really dig in.  Our anchor didn’t end up dragging however it was the final straw and a clear sign we need to upgrade our anchor before taking off to sail about the world.

We thought we could hold off and save up but anchors are simply too important.  At this point, there is absolutely no way we would trust our anchor to hold in a tropical storm or hurricane.  So, we’ll to do some research and find an anchor we can trust with our lives.  It sounds a bit dramatic but it is a vital piece of cruising equipment, and it is the difference between sleeping like a baby or sleeping with one eye open.

So…have you run aground?  Do you have a skinny water sailing story you’d like to share? Maybe a favorite anchor that you would recommend?  We appreciate every comment and tip we get, it not only helps us but it helps the next newbie that comes along and stumbles on this story.

Sailing Report

We’ve received requests from our Patreons to include a map to give a better idea of where we are and our route.  While I work out an option to include something like that…our map page will at least show you where we are and where we’ve been.   If you click on the map it will take you to our map page where you can view, scroll, zoom and click.

sailing map

Weather: 87° Partly cloudy with T-Storms in the evening
Wind:  Southeast 5-7 knots
Route: Billys Point, Biscayne National Park to Garden Cove South
Nautical Miles Sailed: 26
Date: September 6, 2016

Gear Used

Equipment used to film this video: