There is a lot of planning that goes into a day, weekend, or week on the water. Life jackets, water skies, tube, towels, flag... is the plug in the boat, are the trailer lights working... the list goes on and on. Then the day arrives, you are on the water, and it is time to beach your boat. Oh My! Do I beach my boat OR should I offshore anchor my boat?
Before making your decision, please make sure you know exactly what you’re doing. If you have the wrong technique you could damage your boat, wind up stuck, or even both.
How to Beach Your Boat: Two Techniques to Make It Easy and Safe
1.) Beaching My Boat
Having your boat close to you in the sand sounds wonderful, doesn't it! You can jump on the boat and get anything needed in seconds. However, most experts strongly advise you to not do this. If you do decide to beach your boat on the shore, just make sure you fully understand the risks and you are willing to live with the consequences of your decision.
Best Times to Beach Your Boat Directly on the Beach
As mentioned above, it is never really ideal to beach your boat directly on the shore. But, if you find a nice sheltered cove, or you really want to go ashore without all the trouble of dealing with complicated anchoring techniques, you will want to beach your boat directly on the beach. Due to the constant changes in the tide, it is best if you only use this technique if you plan on being ashore for a short time or you are willing to move your boat every hour or so. You will want to make sure you have great visibility and that there are no rocks between you and the soft sand where you plan on beaching the boat.
The biggest hazards when you beach your boat directly on the actual beach are:
- The coarse sand damaging the gelcoat
- Water intrusion into the fiberglass laminate
- Removing antifouling coatings
- Damaging to the keel
- Your boat becoming stuck high and dry as the tide recedes
- Your boat floating away with the changing tide
To reduce damage to your boat, it would be a good idea to buy a keel guard protector. You will also want to give your boat a thorough cleaning and consider reapplying antifouling coatings immediately.
Steps to Beaching Your Boat
- Examine the shoreline and know the tide chart. How deep is the water and how quickly does it shoal? If you are in a lake or river system you will want to carefully watch the winds as these can have some of the same effects as a changing tide on your boat’s position.
- Approach the shore slowly. Make sure you know the composition of the bottom. Just because the beach is nice and sandy doesn’t mean that there aren’t sharp rocks just under the surface of the water as you approach the shore. You want to beach your boat somewhere where there is a nice soft, sandy bottom.
- Judge the water depth. Idle into the shallowest water you can find that provides a clear sight line to the beach and still allows you to float.
- Helper needed. Once you are in waist-deep water, turn off the engine, trim the motor all the way up, and then have someone hop into the water and walk the boat up to the beach with a bowline.
- Always secure your boat. You can do this by walking an anchor up the beach, tying off to a stake or securing to a nearby tree.
- Remember, the back of the boat will be heavier due to the weight of the engine, so make sure that you don’t pull the keel all the way up or it will be tough to leave.
- Keep an eye on the time and the tide. Your beached boat may need to be moved every hour or so to avoid getting stuck.
2.) Beaching Your Boat Just Off the Beach (Offshore Anchoring Your Boat)
Beaching your boat just offshore is the safer technique. Most veterans have found that parking the boat just off of the beach allows them more time to play and safer for the boat. While there may be still risks when offshore anchoring your boat, it is much easier to manage with less possible boat damage.
Best Times to Leave Your Boat Just Off the Beach
When you want to relax, swim, or have your kiddos play in the sand, beaching your boat offshore is a great idea. It is also nice to beach your boat offshore when you want to picnic on the beach or just enjoy the sun. Check out Sand Docker Anchors to create a seamless anchoring experience.
When you beach your boat offshore you are much less likely to damage your boat, but there are still some possible hazards:
- Swamping the boat because of poor positioning or inadequate anchorage
- Having the boat get stuck because of poor positioning and changing tides
- Having the boat float away because of poor anchorage and changing tide
- Damaging the keel because of excessive speed and poor depth judgment
If you use the proper technique, you can avoid almost all of these risks. Most of these hazards happen because boaters are in a hurry, inexperienced, or fail to pay sufficient attention to details. You should make it a habit to check on the boat’s position relative to the shore and the water level regularly—at least once an hour.
Best Technique for Beaching Your Boat Just Off the Beach
In order to lessen the risk of getting stuck, the goal of beaching your boat just off the beach is to end up with the bow pointing towards the open water and away from the shore. Using this technique properly will require the help of a crew member.
- Idle your boat towards the shore until you end up in water that is about waist deep. The boat should still be able to float and operate to drive.
- Helper needed. Have someone in the stern of the boat with the bow anchor. They should gently set it down as you idle towards the shore and play out the rode to keep it away from the propellers.
- Turn off the engine. Then trim the motor all the way up as the bow nuzzles into the sand. The boat will rest here temporarily.
- Helper needed. Have someone take a stern anchor ashore and plant it securely. This is also a good time to unload all of your shore items.
- Back up the boat. Keeping the motor trimmed up, pull the boat off the sand and back into deeper water using the bow anchor rode. Your boat will rotate so that the bow is facing away from the shore. You want to make sure there is enough tension in the stern line to hold the boat in place.
- Anchor your boat in waist deep water. You only need to go a short distance away from the shore, but the water should be waist deep.
It's time to go! Load all of your shore items into the boat, pay out a little scope on the bow anchor rode and pull in the stern anchor rode as everyone gets back on board. Once everyone and everything is safely loaded, you can use your bow anchor rode to pull the boat into deeper water until it’s safe to start the engines, pull up the bow anchor and continue your boating adventure.
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