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How to learn about boating in coastal waters

Old 08-03-2018, 08:29 AM
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Default How to learn about boating in coastal waters

I am farmiliar with boating on inland lakes but would like to learn how to navigate and operate on coastal waters.
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Old 08-03-2018, 09:42 AM
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Best advice is to have a good Lowrance, Garmin, whatever with a good chart such as Navionics + for the coastal waterways you are boating in. If you are not familiar with where the low sand bars are and where the channels are of any area you should try to stay between the channel markers when possible. The other advice is take your time boating around the area to learn it because the sand bars will shift from time to time as well. There are tutorials online to teach you the difference color markers and buoys so learn those and when you see a no wake....idle speed only. The DNR is always watching for boaters zooming through the no wake zones here around Savannah and Hilton Head area.
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Playn Hooky View Post
Best advice is to have a good Lowrance, Garmin, whatever with a good chart such as Navionics + for the coastal waterways you are boating in. If you are not familiar with where the low sand bars are and where the channels are of any area you should try to stay between the channel markers when possible. The other advice is take your time boating around the area to learn it because the sand bars will shift from time to time as well. There are tutorials online to teach you the difference color markers and buoys so learn those and when you see a no wake....idle speed only. The DNR is always watching for boaters zooming through the no wake zones here around Savannah and Hilton Head area.
This is good advice no substitute for expierience.

This is going to sound like a THT witisism but I mean this, if you plan to navigate inland coastal waters you should be prepared to run aground, get your hulls scraped good by baricles, bang your boat into your trailer when a big boat wake comes when you're at the ramp, run into a piling when docking when the current catches you offguard...+1000 other things...if your boat is too new and nice for you to stomach these things you may want to trade it in for a used boat that's already dinged up when you are learning...
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Old 08-03-2018, 07:20 PM
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Great advice for having a great chart plotter with a great mapping card like Navionics. Their Platinum+ card for coastal waters is top of the line and is a great all in one card. Navigation chart, sonar chart, satellite imagery overlay which I use for the shallows, 3D views, panoramic port pics.......... A great affordable option for a chart plotter that will run this card is the Simrad GO series. Just a recommendation. Plenty of great plotters out there. Another great tool I find useful both on and off the water alike is their boating app. Great for planning, and with a wifi enabled plotter on the boat running the charts, it can sync via plotter sync your waypoints, routes..... Safe boating to you!


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Old 08-05-2018, 07:30 PM
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As a new saltwater bay fisherman I agree with all said above. I fish the bays out of Rockport Texas where the amount of shallow water is immense, you can run aground miles from the shoreline, and virtually all the good fishing is in less than four feet of water, often in one foot of water. I couldn't survive without the Navionics+ and even then caution is needed because of changing conditions, e.g. the effect of Hurricane Harvey. I've found time on the water is critical, learning the lay of the water in the area and what you can do with your specific boat. About three weeks ago I was trying to go through a cut with the wind at my back. I ran aground several hundred yards from the nearest shore and the cut. It was about an hour and a half before sundown and I spent all of it trying to get back underway. I had to get out of the boat and try to drag it to deep water, all the while having the wind and waves push me hard to shore and harder aground. I finally got free but vowed to never place myself in that position again, exploring a new area in shallow water with limited daylight and the wind pushing me toward shore. Explore shallow water gingerly, have good mapping software, and subscribe to a tow service. I almost gave up that evening but finally got the boat free. Though it was an ordeal, I was comforted during it knowing that if necessary I could call Sea Tow.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Wiz123 View Post
I am farmiliar with boating on inland lakes but would like to learn how to navigate and operate on coastal waters.
Find your local Power Squadron and or Coast Guard Auxiliary....they can help you too with some local knowledge.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:52 AM
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Anther tip: follow someone bigger than you! That's how I learned my way around the very shallow Sarasota Bay area. There are well marked channels, and then some not so well marked ones and that's where I would follow someone else (remembering to stay well back in case they don't know what they are doing either and you follow them onto a sandbar!)
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:46 AM
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Don't depend solely on electronic charts, get paper charts and study them. When you zoom out hazards on electronic charts disappear, some guys in yacht race a few years back found this out the hard way. Take a CG Power Squadron course. Find a good weather website and one for the tides. You will want to know when the winds and tides are opposing each other as that makes it much more dangerous. Get Sea Tow or Tow Boat US. Think redundancy, 2 VHFs is not too many, link your hard mount to your GPS so you can send a distress call by pushing a button. Carry spares, an emergency 2000 gph bilge pump you can drop in the bilge and hook to your batteries. I have a lot of engine spares too, enough to change belts and do a tune up. 2 batteries with a switch is a must. Always watch the weather and the tides, they are stronger than we are.....
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Old 08-07-2018, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by LouC View Post
Don't depend solely on electronic charts, get paper charts and study them. When you zoom out hazards on electronic charts disappear, some guys in yacht race a few years back found this out the hard way. Take a CG Power Squadron course. Find a good weather website and one for the tides. You will want to know when the winds and tides are opposing each other as that makes it much more dangerous. Get Sea Tow or Tow Boat US. Think redundancy, 2 VHFs is not too many, link your hard mount to your GPS so you can send a distress call by pushing a button. Carry spares, an emergency 2000 gph bilge pump you can drop in the bilge and hook to your batteries. I have a lot of engine spares too, enough to change belts and do a tune up. 2 batteries with a switch is a must. Always watch the weather and the tides, they are stronger than we are.....
LouC makes some great points. Zooming out does will cause the numerical depth figures to disappear and the point of studying paper charts is very, very smart. Study any new area before you venture in. Google Earth is helpful also. Charts, electronic or paper, are only accurate when the soundings are taken which may have been years ago! Storms and currents WILL change the bottom. Learn what the color change in the water means. You'll be able to judge depth changes just by looking at the color of the water. Last, don't be afraid to get in a little trouble now and then on a good weather day. Getting to the edge of the envelope is some of the best learning you can gain.
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Old 08-07-2018, 10:33 AM
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Buy an old flats boats w/ a good MFD and crank the throttle open.

You’ll learn that area pretty quickly.

PS, make sure your Sea Tow is paid up.
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Old 08-09-2018, 09:57 AM
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When you run aground, especially if you are windward side of a sandbar, the first thing you should do is deploy your anchor in deeper water. You can use waves/boat wakes to take up the slack as is opportune and pull yourself into deeper water. You also don't want to sit there waiting on the tide to come up only to find your self getting blown back on the hard.
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by t3rse View Post
When you run aground, especially if you are windward side of a sandbar, the first thing you should do is deploy your anchor in deeper water. You can use waves/boat wakes to take up the slack as is opportune and pull yourself into deeper water. You also don't want to sit there waiting on the tide to come up only to find your self getting blown back on the hard.
When I got stuck windward I got out of the boat and carried the anchor to deeper water, but still shallow enough to wade. Then, with it set I pulled the boat off the sandbar, precious inch by inch, by leaning against the anchor rope, taking up slack and walking toward the boat as I went. Took two tries and over an hour. Heart attack time.
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Old 08-09-2018, 12:50 PM
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I'd also recommend not going anywhere you aren't familiar with on an ebb tide. If you get stuck on a flood tide, just set the anchor and let the tide float you off.

Speaking of tides, pay attention to king (perigean) tides. This is when most people get really screwed. If you ground on a king high tide, you might not be getting your boat unstuck for a very long time at a significant expense.
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Old 08-12-2018, 08:42 PM
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Charts are great, maps are smart, but local knowledge is invaluable. Not knowing what areas are local to you limits helping you. Let us know where you are, or what waters you want to know and you're bound to find someone local on here to either provide specific guidance or maybe even buddy boat your first few trips. A local fishing guide is another great option...couple hundred bucks and a guy that runs it every day can download on you. Aside from that, as stated above, monitor tides, know marker and buoy meanings and try to limit yourself to daytime (fair weather) scouting trips until you know the lay of the land.
I've been using the same cut out of Galveston island for 20yrs and the bars/rips change whenever they want; run aground a couple of times following my way-point tracks that were just a couple weeks old.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:21 PM
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Getting grounded on tides yeah. Years ago my neighbor took us to a place on the North Shore of LI called the Sand Hole, it is near Center Island (Billy Joel has a house around there). So we are hanging out and getting ready to leave and we see this 50' cruiser grounded by the low tide. The wife is calling to us, when is the next high tide lol. I answer back "in about 6 hrs" they were good sports and just fired up their barbeque. Not much else they could do!
I got slightly stuck on a sand bar once in a very low tide, but was able to power off. Did have to replace the impeller after that though! The other thing about coastal boating, is storms. If you keep your boat in a marina, or on a mooring, you need to deal with storm prep. My rule of thumb was if the winds were going to be less than tropical storm force, I'd leave it in but anything more than that, and out it came. Like TS Irene and Hurricane Sandy. Many left their boats in, some did better than boats on land but some did worse. We are elevated about 60 feet above sea level with no risk of flooding at all, but you can have trees falling. On the South Shore, some people did better leaving them in, and those that pulled em had boats floating off trailers winding up in people's yards, in pools, even on the Long Beach extension of the LIRR!
Make sure you look at your insurance policy to see what it says about storm prep. They may pay for hauling if a bonafide hurricane is coming....
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Old 08-14-2018, 03:55 AM
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Check Craigslist for captains willing to teach you on your boat. I have seen these ads in my area so I know they're out there. Also good idea for the local Coast Guard classes. One call to them should get you info on their next class. Nothing beats local knowledge however.
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Old 09-28-2018, 05:57 PM
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https://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/
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Old 09-28-2018, 06:36 PM
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All of that above and get a good pair of polarized sunglasses. Sunny days you will be able to see the bars and sometimes the fish. The absolute best thing is learning to read the water, the waves and the wind can give you clues to what is under the surface, I'm not sure it can be fully taught, it's something you learn with experience. If you get a feeling that something ain't right slow down and trust your gut.
Just so you know, I've been boating and fishing the area where I live for over 40 years and am intimately familiar with the area and my 1 year old skeg has the paint worn off of it and while I owned my last boat I had to call seatow 3 times to get ungrounded.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:16 AM
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And don’t try to learn it all at once. When I started fishing the Louisiana marsh, I would go a bit further on each subsequent trip. That way you can develop a good set of spots to fish under various weather conditions and can really learn an area. Falling tide with a certain wind, fish here. Rising tide and no wind, fish there, etc.
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Old 10-08-2018, 06:51 PM
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A general rule of thumb is to stay on the long shoreline around bends in unmarked channels/rivers and if you see crab pot buoys, that's usually a good place to be for depth.Set your depth warning very conservative until you are more comfortable with the area.
If you see people in a boat waving at you frantically they might be trying to tell you something, I found that out the hard way LOL.
Oh and don't get over confident, I've crossed this bar plenty of times but not this day
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