Shallow waters

If you are in shallow waters and the wind is blowing you towards the shore...

... then go through one of the following procedures:


  • Drop the sails and start the engine. Try to motor out of the situation.
  • Get as much weight as possible onto the end of the boom, including luggage as necessary.
  • Push the boom out to right angles from the mast and have the crew lean out of the boat, holding the boom.
  • This will transfer the weight onto the side of the boat and with the buoyancy of the hull, the keel should come off the bottom. Put your engine on full astern or ahead to try to get out of trouble.
  • Rock the boat end to end. The crew should stand on the bow and dash to the cockpit and back.
  • As the vessel is bow or stern deep you should put on full throttle astern or forward to dry to get off the shallows.
  • If you can’t stem the wind blowing you towards the shore, drop anchor.

The boat should lean right over – don’t worry, this is safe!

weight onto the end of the boom


If you do not manage to get the keel off the bottom by moving weight you should consider getting someone else to help.

  • You should unclip your mainsail halyard or topping lift, and pass this to another boat. They should go at right angles to the direction you are pointing (though preferably out to sea). Your vessel will ‘fall off’ its keel and start to float on its side.


  • At this stage, pass a mooring line from the deck of your boat with one end attached amidships to the towing vessel. They should tow you into deeper water (they should use their sounder to find a sensible depth.
  • Drop anchor. Sort yourself out by stowing baggage, tidying up lines and so on. You may at this stage wish to have a quiet night aboard - unless you want to be the centre of attention for the fun you had that day in the bars or restaurants!
  • Call the Coast Guard on Channel 16, say your position and explain that you are on a ‘lee shore’.