Talk about a lesson in hard knocks! And kudos to Jerry for owning up and sharing his experience with all of us! Like so many spots along the east coast, a little research done on your float plan can save you big hassles down the way. The northern entrance to the Alligator River demands our attention and respect, as Jerry’s experience proves.
I’m the Eastbay that made the mistake of relying upon the magenta line and thought I’d offer some reflections, in hopes of helping others.I sincerely wish I had known of this site [Cruisers’ Net] and will do a LOT more research in the future, including spending hours of bandwith here. I am relatively new to cruising and unfortunately believed (ignorantly so) that I could rely on current charts. I guess my many years of flying taught me to religiously count on them, especially when they are current. Nuff said and believe me, it won’t happen again.
My approach speed was closer to 18 kts right before entering the dog leg past the green 9. I slowed to about 15 entering the turn (NE) when the ground started coming up. There were no boats ahead of me to notice any other course.
The depth finder said 5′ (below the hull) and then 3 so I immediately shut down the props to idle. There was a large hit, but not really a grounding. I heard a “metal on metal” sound. We were completely stopped but floating (albeit just barely). I could feel the keel bouncing on a hard surface as the chop ran by.
My starboard engine was all that was affected and appears to have taken the full hit; pulling the engine off it’s mount and slightly moving the strut. There is no damage, not even a scratch, to the hull. The starboard prop and shaft were moved 8-10″ aft and the prop was impacting the rudder… possibly the “metal on metal” sound. The port engine, strut, prop and shaft were fine.
A couple of boats came by, about 100 yds east of my location, both going from green 9 to green 7 and said they were in good water. I was facing due east at the time as the tide and chop continued to rotate me about a point. It was clear the starboard prop was hung up on something hard.
Using the port engine and bow thruster, I was able to slowly continue to rotate (until facing due west) and back off whatever the starboard prop was sitting on, eventually getting to the line between the green 9 and green 7, which is the preferred course.
We motored to the Alligator Marina (nice people who know quite well what the problem area is… saying they see 2-3 every month) and the next morning was able to get it to a marina for repairs. At present, I have no estimate for repairs but am confident it’ll be a lot less than $50k, but in any event. it was clearly my fault for not researching the area more.
I guess I just wanted to weigh in and admit my error and at the same time, correct the rumors which do seem to get a bit out of hand.
Finally, it seems like even in this period of “no money Corps” that the preferred course on charts and chartplotters could be simply adjusted for these kinds of areas when it’s apparently been known for a long time that a problem with a magenta line exists. I realize they don’t have funds to dredge, but it doesn’t seem like changing charts would be difficult since the cost is ours when we buy updates.
Well, while I was a pilot, we used to say there were only two kinds, “those who have landed gear up; and those who have yet to..” I guess the same goes for boating and I’m now in the former.
Cheers, Skipper Jerry