Skip Novak Storm Sailing Pt 9: Sounding an uncharted bay

Gaining shelter on a hostile coastline can be safer than toughing it out offshore. Skip Novak looks at how to con into an unfamiliar bay

Skip Novak Storm Sailing Part 9

Going off soundings and having the ability to boldly go where no boat has gone before (or at least feel that way) is not only a desirable feature of cruising in remote areas, it also underpins a safety issue.

In extremis, gaining shelter on a hostile coastline could mean saving the vessel and the crew. Even if not, it can often be safer than toughing it out on the outside with a risk of heavy weather, especially if caught on a lee shore.

Here is a breakdown of the key things to remember when sounding uncharted bay and watch the video below to see Skip put the theory into action.

Do
- Take the time to figure things out before committing
- Observe the clarity of the water, the direction of the light, current and tidal situation on shore
- Approach an anchorage with light overhead or behind you if possible
- If entering via a channel, approach an anchorage against the current and on a slack or rising tide

Don't
- Take down and stow the mainsail early - you need to be ready to make sail if things go wrong
- Forget to have an old-fashioned leadline to hand in case the electronic handheld sounder fails
- Let down your guard after anchoring. Sound the anchorage around the boat and prepare an escape plan just in case


Subscribe to Yachting World or download the digital edition
Don't miss them. You can buy a digital copy of the latest issue here or subscribe to Yachting World and get ths feature and the rest of the series here