sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Australia Cruising USA Cruising Canada Boats for Sale Sail-World Racing Photo Gallery FishingBoating
Video Gallery Newsletters
Sail-World.com : Shallow Water sailing - Ten vital hints for roving sailors
Shallow Water sailing - Ten vital hints for roving sailors

'Sheryl and Paul Shard, aboard their Southerly 49 S/V Distant Shores II crossing the Caicos Bank en route to the Bahamas.'    Paul Shard    Click Here to view large photo

Cruising sailor Paul Shard who, with his wife Sheryl, is an award-winning filmmaker, sailing author, and the fun-loving host of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV, here offers some wise advice on his experiences sailing on their boat, Distant Shores II, in the shallow waters of the Bahamas:

Ahhh the Bahamas. Could this be the most beautiful water in the world? Tough to judge for the whole world, but for many people the Bahamas is best! Definitely for American and Canadian sailors on the East Coast, the Bahamas is the achievable paradise. Yet on any day you will see yachts flying ensigns from countries all around the globe. The secret is out.

But beautiful as they are, the same shallow seas (the name 'Bahamas' comes from the Spanish for shallow seas - baja mar) can be a concern for sailors new to the practice of shallow water piloting.

The differing shades of blue are indicators of the depth of the water. -  Paul Shard  

Sheryl and I have cruised these islands many times, probably a total of fourteen months altogether, over the past twenty-five years exploring the shallow seas of the Bahamas in boats of varying drafts from 6-feet to less than 3-feet. (Our current boat is a Southerly 49 with a variable-draft swing keel giving us a draft from 2-foot 10-inches to 10-feet.)

Navigation has changed here with the advent of pinpoint accurate GPS and plotters but most of the techniques for safely navigating here have not changed. There are few aids to navigation in the Bahamas. Sand bars shift and reef grow.

With a little practice you can learn to pilot shallow water safely and so enjoy some of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. -  Paul Shard   Click Here to view large photo

10 Navigation Tips for Successful Shallow Water Bahamas Piloting

1. Time your passage. It is easiest to judge water depth with the sun over your shoulder. High sun works best – 9:30 or 10:00 a.m until 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. will be best. Try not to come straight into the sun especially when it is lower on the horizon. Do not navigate at night! Rising tide means you can get off again if you get stuck.

2. Do not rely exclusively on waypoints. Cruising Guides have waypoints and they are useful but these are not designed to be used alone. Keep a lookout as well even when running point to point. For new places or routes we haven’t tried, Sheryl and I will check both our charts plus cruising guides for additional information when planning a trip.

3. Know your boat’s draft and tolerance to running aground. Can you afford to run aground? If you have exposed rudders or propellors be sure not to run aground. What is the calibrated offset of your depth sounder? Is the offset calibrated to the bottom of keel or to the water surface?

Paul wearing polarized glasses to reduce the glare on the surface of the water so he can see reefs and shoals better. -  Paul Shard   Click Here to view large photo

4. Wear polarized sunglasses. They cut the glare on the surface of the water so that you can see down into the water much better when wearing polarized glasses.

5. Keep a good watch. Height helps - have a lookout standing on the cabin top or other high point. Do not look through windows or cockpit enclosures. Keep a sharp lookout. Post a lookout at the bow. Do not rely completely on Electronics.

6. Slow down or stop when unsure.

7. Learn to judge the depth by the water-colour. Deep sapphire blue to swimming pool blue to pale yellow is all sand. Deep green or gray-black will be deeper water of 3-5 meters over grass or reef. Brown water will be quite shallow water over reef or rock - less than one meter. Judge depth over sand from sandy colour (less than 0.5 meter - two feet) very pale light blue (one meter) to deep blue. (I will go into this in more depth in my next Tech Blog, 'How to Read the Colour of the Water' since it is an important skill for skippers to develop to ensure a safe and happy cruise.).

The Shards’ previous boat, Distant Shores, a Southerly 42, dried out in the shallow water of Pipe Creek in the Exumas, Bahamas. -  Paul Shard   Click Here to view large photo

8. Practice with your depth sounder. Judge the depth ahead (for example, picking a shallower sandy patch) and confirm your estimation as you pass over this patch. Explore ahead in the dinghy and confirm depths with a lead-line.

9.Try out a Lead-Line. On our first trip to the Bahamas in 1989 friends gave us a lead-line neatly designed for our boat (which drew six feet). It was a 20 foot piece of thin cord and had ribbons tied every two feet with a fishing sinker on the end. The ribbons at 2,4 and six feet were red indicating depths we couldn't go. 8,10 and 12 were yellow and 14,16 and 18 indicated we could easily anchor here. Great for scouting in the dinghy or for checking depth off the stern...

10. Be careful in cloudy conditions. The small trade-wind clouds common to the (otherwise) perfect sailing day in the Bahamas can cast a shadow on the water that look just like a black reef patch. The clue is to carefully watch the bearing - if the bearing changes then it’s a cloud. If you are unsure, head around it. When you get closer it’s easier to see if it’s really a reef. Not all clouds pose a problem. Soft clouds or on a high-cloud dull day it is still relatively easy to judge water colour.

One of the most beautiful spots in the Bahamas is Warderick Wells where there are ribbons of blue water with the varying shallow depths. -  Paul Shard   Click Here to view large photo

We love the Bahamas and enjoy the challenge of piloting in the amazing blue waters here. A little preparation and practice will allow you to safely navigate this wonderful cruising ground.

Paul and Sheryl Shard are the authors of the bestselling book, 'Sail Away! A Guide to Outfitting and Provisioning for Cruising' which is currently being updated to a third edition and are the hosts of the award-winning sailing TV series, 'Distant Shores' which is also available on DVD and downloads. They are currently cruising aboard their Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, in the Caribbean and Bahamas. Visit their website.


by Paul Shard


  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=122709

12:59 AM Fri 30 May 2014GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Distant Shores TV

Related News Stories:

18 May 2014  Shallow Water sailing - Ten vital hints for roving sailors
07 Feb 2014  Making money while cruising
18 Jan 2014  TV's 'Distant Shores' ready for boat show season
16 Jan 2014  Ten Parameters of Provisioning
29 Dec 2013  Top 10 Tips for Cooking at Sea






Sail-World Cruising News - local and the World

Day two for the Caribbean 1500 and the rally wrapped up last night back at the Bier Garden in Portsmouth, VA. Several boats had arrived throughout the afternoon and evening, so we had a larger crowd than the night before, which kept the Kolsch flowing. ... [more]  

A light on the horizon by Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager
RYA Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers, looks at the development of an international standard for LED navigation lights. A couple of years ago I wrote two consecutive articles for the RYA magazine on the pros and cons of the LED navigation lights that were on the market at the time. ... [more]  

Could this be the knot that never fails? by Captain John Jamieson, Florida
What qualities make a 'need to know' sailing knot? I believe they include easy to tie, easy to untie, above average safety and security, and one that can be tied in trying conditions like rough seas, nighttime, or rain squalls. The tough but super simple to tie 'Round Turn and Two Half-Hitches' can be used to tie up small craft to a mooring ring. ... [more]  

Just across the border from Canada’s Gulf Islands – and there’s a story behind that – San Juan is an engaging destination rich in history, culture and opportunities to explore shoreside. Our first cruise to the San Juan Islands was in 2005, our seventh year of cruising on our wooden sailboat, South Islander. ... [more]  

Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) is pleased to report that completion on the 2014 phases of the Cowes breakwater construction programme is imminent with contractors Boskalis Westminster now finalising the reshaping of the 350 metre long breakwater core in advance of a winter settlement period. ... [more]  

Where is the Deepwater Horizon oil? by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
During the 2010 crisis, some of the oil gushing from the seafloor appeared as slicks on the sea surface, while roughly half of it, scientists estimate, remained trapped in deep ocean plumes of mixed oil and gas, one of which was more than a mile wide, hundreds of feet high and extended for miles southwest of the broken riser pipe at the damaged Macondo well. ... [more]  

September and October have been very busy months, with our yacht Anna Rose finally reaching the Solomon Islands. In Lata, Santa Cruz, we met with local government, ran a workshop on marine threats such as crown-of-thorns, and weathered a serious thunderstorm. Anna Rose then sailed off from Lata towards the low-lying Reef Islands. ... [more]  

We know we need them on board, but how many do we need and how do they work? The Coast Guard requires boats to have at least one B-1 marine fire extinguisher on board. Depending on the size of your boat you may need more than one. Boats under 26' have to have at least one B-1 fire extinguisher on board. ... [more]  

What one piece of low cost sailing gear could save your boat in a howling gale, or when tied up in a slip or alongside a pier, or in a swell-swept anchorage or mooring? Without it, your yacht might well become just another marine insurance statistic! ... [more]  

It's been a busy month for the Sailing Rallies Team, finalising details and schedules for the second edition of the Christmas Caribbean Rally. It's fast approaching and with only eight weeks to go until the start, the majority of the fleet are now either safely tied up or in the vicinity of Marina Rubicon. ... [more]  

Coral-Current Connections by Alice Alpert
Remote island lies in a strategic spot for research - I remember the moray eel’s toothy grin as it peeked out from a crevice beneath a lumpy yellow coral colony. Jewel-like, turquoise parrotfish flitted before my eyes. Tiny iridescent fish formed curtains of flashing colors. Sharks peered up from the abyss. ... [more]  

Maybe it’s because it’s a special year in 2014. Maybe it’s because folks are excited about the large fleet for the Caribbean 1500. Maybe it’s the beautiful weather on the Chesapeake. For whatever reason, a larger-than-usual number of boats have already made their way to Portsmouth and are tied up in Ocean Marine Yacht Center, ready for the week’s festivities. ... [more]  

A Global Voyage to Change Perceptions of Multiple Sclerosis - Oceans of Hope is a Sailing Sclerosis Foundation project that aims to change perceptions of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), inspiring people with the disease to overcome their own personal challenges by telling the stories of those taking part in the first ever circumnavigation by a yacht crewed by people with MS. ... [more]  

Buoy hopping is a very useful skill to employ in a narrow, well lit channel or estuary. There are, however, a few basic pitfalls that you need to be aware of in order to avoid disaster. ... [more]  

A competitive start marked the departure from Mauritius to La Réunion for the World ARC. Now berthed alongside the dock in Le Port on the north east coast of the island, the 130 nautical mile sail was a contrast to the longer ocean passages usually undertaken, allowing them to arrive during the same day. ... [more]  

A 92-year-old Portland woman was rescued by two Good Samaritans after driving her car off a boat ramp in Belfast. Belfast Police Officer Wendall Ward said Evan Lenfest drove down Main Street, onto the boat ramp and into the water. Bryden Burleson, an employee at Belmont Boat Works, and assistant Harbormaster Howard Whitcomb rescued Lenfest. ... [more]  

Having a cell phone on board allows you to keep in touch with land-based people and businesses easily. They are very convenient but in some situations they shouldn’t be used in place of a very high frequency (VHF) radio, the benefits of which we’ll address shortly. Here are some things to consider regarding mobile phones. ... [more]  

World ARC fleet explores Mauritius by World Cruising Club
After the arrival of the last boats to Mauritius, the World ARC fleet have been enjoying their time exploring what the island has to offer. The 21 yachts making up the fleet have created a spectacle in the Caudan Basin in Port Louis. The fleet dressed overall with colourful flags has proved to be one of the main attraction for the Caudan Waterfront. ... [more]  

The organisers of METS have revealed that 45 products have been nominated to go forward for final judging by the jury of the prestigious Design Award METS (DAME) 2014 competition. The products have been selected from a total of 116 entries from 23 nationalities all over the world. ... [more]  

Two German sailors who went missing in April, after being abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants and held in a jungle encampment, have been freed. A Philippine official says the pair were released just hours after it had threatened to behead one if no ransom payment was made. ... [more]  

Crowds flocked to Marina Lanzarote for the grand opening on Saturday October 18, where local and regional public officials led by Paulino Rivero, President of the Canarian Government lauded Mr. Jose Calero’s most impressive achievement to date. ... [more]  

Boating in cold weather can be exhilarating, but it also puts you at risk of falling into dangerously cold waters. Even boating in warm weather can be dangerous if the water is much colder than the air. ... [more]  

The Associated British Ports has produced a new Yachtsman’s Guide to Southampton Water. The information has been produced specifically for people who enjoy recreational activities afloat. The guide urges yachtsmen to keep in mind the number of large commercial ships servicing the Port of Southampton while the number of recreational craft afloat in local waters is increasing. ... [more]  

Sailing across the North Atlantic at 81 by Edward Cohen, Chicago, IL
A grew up Miami, Florida. My family moved there when I was a young child. Like many other children in the days before TV, I read a lot. I especially liked reading books that described heroic sailing adventures, Captain Horatio Hornblower’s Man-O-War vessel fighting the French, Sir Francis Drake’s exploits, Joshua Slocum who sailed around the world alone—these were my heroes. ... [more]  

PredictWind have made significant improvements to the swell forecasting models and added new locations. Integrating the new 50km global wind forecast with ocean current data has created the most advanced swell modelling available online. By combining PredictWind forecast data with ocean current data, the effect of the wind on swells can be accounted for ... [more]  

The Marion to Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race have announced the opening of registration for its 20th anniversary, which will commence on June 19, 2015. Supported by the Beverly YC of Marion, Mass., the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club of Paget, Bermuda, and the Blue Water SC of Boston, Mass., the race is open to seaworthy yachts appropriate for an offshore ocean race as defined in the USSER. ... [more]  

Just the thought of falling overboard scares most sailors into a 'stay-aboard-at-all-costs' mindset. And yet this most serious of sailing emergencies does happen now and then. Recovery will be tough no matter what the marine weather conditions. ... [more]  

If a car or truck's vanity license plate can tell you a lot about the person behind the wheel, what can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm? ... [more]  

The Cauden Basin in Port Louis has come alive with rally atmosphere over the last week. Transformed to a vibrant marina with yachts dressed overall, boat parties and welcoming new arrivals has made for a great spectacle and an exciting place to be. ... [more]  

Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission - to rid the planet's oceans of floating plastic. He has dedicated his teenage years to finding a way of collecting it. But can the system really work - and is there any point when so much new plastic waste is still flowing into the sea every day? ... [more]  

Tell me what self-respecting Galley Guy could possibly (while on the beautiful island of Barbados) turn down an opportunity to tour the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery? For sure, not this Galley Guy! Sadly, the other Galley Guys did not get the call. ... [more]  

Nv charts announces the release of their newly updated chart set for Region 9.1, Bahamas Northwest, including Bimini and Berry Islands, Nassau to Abaco, and Grand Bahama, for 2015-2016 in paper and digital format. ... [more]  

We are northwest of the southern peninsula of Haiti lying within radar range south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and drifting in the current in the direction of Port-au-Prince at less than a knot. ... [more]  

70-year-old sailor skippers £100m cocaine yacht + Video
Sidney Spit, A pearl among Gulf Islands parks
Venture in Prince William Sound
Help stop spreading of the invasive Quagga mussel
Ten personal 'sailing essentials' for cruising on someone else's boat
Eleventh Malacca Straits passage for SV Crystal Blues
Southern Spars team celebrates 25 years of success and innovation
Maine-to-Massachusetts Cruising Yacht Rally announced
All-night air and sea search for lone sailor
Inshore reefs of the GBR especially vulnerable to ocean acidification
Estimating the diversity of life
NOAA and Coast Guard join to preserve historic World War I shipwreck
British couple rescued from burning yacht off Almeria coast
Crystal Blues crew on board USS Carl Vinson
Vaughan Bullivant cuts Daydream Island price tag to $30 million
Update: Stunning finds from ancient Greek Shipwreck
First World ARC arrivals touchdown in Port Louis, Mauritius
Exploring sailors attitudes towards risk and safety
Nuno Navigator joins RYA member benefits portfolio
'Largest ever' U.S. Sailboat show cruises into Annapolis
Will your lifelines pass this sailing test?   
Counter-Piracy Task Force Commanders meet in Muscat   
Aventura's passage to Annapolis   
Typhoon Vongfong becomes 2014's most powerful storm   
Royal Navy Commander tells of dramatic rescue in storm   
Earth Wind Map - with typhoons   
Unmanned aerial vehicle offers new view of killer whales   
EU Naval Force strengthens ties in fight against piracy   
Life on the Indian Ocean for the World ARC fleet   
A collaborative effort to understand and monitor marine biodiversity   
Coast Guard rescues man from hydro bubble east of St. Augustine, Fla   
Annapolis Boat Show - Meet Jimmy Cornell and his new Aventura   
Canadian shipwreck discovery solves 170-year-old mystery   
British couple help stranded Syrian refugees to safety   
Blue Planet Odyssey yacht completes Northwest Passage transit   
World ARC fleet embarks on leg 11, across the Indian Ocean   
Pantaenius and Camper & Nicholsons Marinas become strategic partners   
Marine Wind Farms - coming to your cruising waters, what to do?   
How to make a distance scale for faster navigation   
New maps of the polar regions reveal unseen world beneath the ice   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph, contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW CRU NH
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT