Cruise: Run aground in the Port River


Torrens Island power station

They say there are two types of sailors, those that have run aground and those that will run aground. Alas, I'm in the former camp.

Back in July I discovered the shallow waters of the North Arm of the Port River (Port Adelaide), which at the time was unfortunately on a falling tide, just below the high tide mark.

To make things worse, the next tide was a so-called "dodge tide". Compare the tide from the following weekend (top), with the tide that I experienced (bottom).
Normal tide
Dodge tide
You'll notice the high tides are 12 hours apart with the dodge tide, rather than the usual 6 hours.

I also discovered that Port River mud is impressive in it's suction ability. Full reverse was unable to to dislodge me, and by the time I tried to kedge off, it was too late.


So I spent a lovely night serenaded by Torrens Island Power Station waiting for the next high tide the following morning. As far as power stations go, it could have been worse; Torrens Island is a gas-thermal power station, so it's relatively clean.

Apart from dodging dodge tides, what did I learn from this experience?  To quote Bram Stoker of Dracula fame, “We learn from failure, not from success.”
  • Don't venture into unfamiliar waters without scrutinizing charts. I thought, "what could possibly go wrong? I'm in a river which is a major shipping channel." Wrong!
  • Don't try blasting your way forward. I saw deep water in front and thought I could power ahead. Wrong!
  • Don't go out at high hide in unfamiliar waters.  Go out a few hours before high tide so you can float off quickly if you hit bottom.
I managed to do a few things right:
  • I had a well-stocked pantry, as you never know when you'll need that emergency dinner - or breakfast.
  • I set an anchor to avoid drifting further into the shallows when the tide rose.
  • I dumped about 500 litres of water, lightening my load by about 1/2tonne.
On a positive note, it was a great time to clean my hulls. And nothing damaged except my pride :-)

OVER.