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HookEm

Hazards to Navigation Galveston Bay

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On Saturday August 5th, I stuck some sort of underwater obstruction/hazard in Galveston Bay that ripped the keel off my boat.  I was lucky the bolts sheared and not the fiberglass or I would have sunk. While the government chart shows "Obstn" in the general vicinity (I'll admit I did not have a chart on board), there are no markers for this hazard and "Obstn" on a 1:25,000 chart is really not all that useful when it is underwater.  Unfortunately I did not think to mark it till later and so failed to do so, as I was dealing with getting free, but I estimate it near 29 37' 15N and 94 57' 50S.  I found that the Galveston Bay Cruising Association had posted Obstruction near 29 37.399N and 94 58.201S.  NOAA's mapping support shows a "wreck - Submerged, dangerous to surface navigation" at 29.62N and 94.96167W.  

My question is, why aren't these obstructions, hazards, wrecks at least marked with a buoy or some such?  It's not like the government does not know they are there, they have marked it "dangerous" on their own website.  

In the future, I'm going to carry a cheap anchor from Walmart with some line something that floats to mark whatever I may run into.  Of course that will be cheap insurance as it will guarantee, that I won't every hit anything again. 

doc00197420170807174324.pdf

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Call the Coast Guard and tell them.  They can investigate, look at it with a side-scan sonar, and decide whether or not it needs to get removed and/or marked.  Try Sector Houston Galveston first.

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We hit something during a rum race on G-bay years ago on a Carrera 290 while reaching at 9 kts.  Instant stop, boat didn't appear to be taking on water.  Sailed back to the shipyard to pull the boat and saw the keel hanging down. 

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On 8/7/2017 at 6:47 PM, HookEm said:

On Saturday August 5th, I stuck some sort of underwater obstruction/hazard in Galveston Bay that ripped the keel off my boat.  I was lucky the bolts sheared and not the fiberglass or I would have sunk. While the government chart shows "Obstn" in the general vicinity (I'll admit I did not have a chart on board), there are no markers for this hazard and "Obstn" on a 1:25,000 chart is really not all that useful when it is underwater.  Unfortunately I did not think to mark it till later and so failed to do so, as I was dealing with getting free, but I estimate it near 29 37' 15N and 94 57' 50S.  I found that the Galveston Bay Cruising Association had posted Obstruction near 29 37.399N and 94 58.201S.  NOAA's mapping support shows a "wreck - Submerged, dangerous to surface navigation" at 29.62N and 94.96167W.  

My question is, why aren't these obstructions, hazards, wrecks at least marked with a buoy or some such?  It's not like the government does not know they are there, they have marked it "dangerous" on their own website.  

In the future, I'm going to carry a cheap anchor from Walmart with some line something that floats to mark whatever I may run into.  Of course that will be cheap insurance as it will guarantee, that I won't every hit anything again. 

doc00197420170807174324.pdf

I have a cheaper version than your anchor insurance, try not hitting anything at all and you will be good to go

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You're in 8' of water!  My swimming pool has more depth!  If you marked every obstruction, you would have a Bay full of markers. 

 

As as my signature says, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that!"

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So what happened to the boat if you ripped your keel off? How did you get back? And is the keel lost?

Galveston bay isn't a very nice place. I hate that water... just nasty. I did my internship at a polyethylene plastics plant in early '80's in Texas City. Some of the old timers there told me stories about that water in the bay from back in the 40's. Unreal how bad that place was and still is to me. But if you live there and wanna sail, that's about your only choice. Thank god I don't anymore!

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2 hours ago, DaveK said:

So what happened to the boat if you ripped your keel off? How did you get back? And is the keel lost?

Galveston bay isn't a very nice place. I hate that water... just nasty. I did my internship at a polyethylene plastics plant in early '80's in Texas City. Some of the old timers there told me stories about that water in the bay from back in the 40's. Unreal how bad that place was and still is to me. But if you live there and wanna sail, that's about your only choice. Thank god I don't anymore!

Amazingly the keel bolts were sheared off with minimal damage to the fiberglass. Otherwise I'm sure we would have sunk.  We hit very hard and it sounded like metal on metal contact. We did not have a GPS on board, and so could not mark the location.  After the collision we continued on a reach in less than 10 mph wind, and actually did not know the keel was missing until we tried to go to weather, and the boat refused to change direction.  We immediately realized what happened, dropped anchor and were able to get the attention of a motorboat to tow us in.  We hauled the boat and of course no keel.  While sailing without a keel sounds impossible, I found an article about a charter boat in England that had lost its keel and then sailed 100 miles on three separate charters before they figured it out.  The first guy finally admitted to hitting a rock and they were able to recover the keel. 

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I want whatever keelbolt caulk or gunk that lets one loose a keel and then do 100 miles over the course of three charters! Can I get that stuff from Brent Swain over on the Origami thread? Y'all tell a tall tale down there in Texas!

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There is all kinds of stuff in GBay for you to hit. And much of it is uncharted. Right near the coords you listed, there is a clear cautionary note on the charts (at least Fugawi and Navionics charts) about oil and gas structures...

598bc9cc7d155_ScreenShot2017-08-09at9_47_59PM.thumb.jpg.5526b588ca66f06f4bda99fbd69718a2.jpg

So I don't doubt that's what you got into. But as was said above, there are tons of these obstructions out there. I sailed there for several years and it's a great place to sail. The key is to stay away from areas that say "Caution".

You say you didn't have a chart or GPS. Did you have a chartplotter? If not, after you get your keel sorted, you might want to at least get an iPhone/iPad with iNavX and get a better sense of where you're going. It definitely helps.

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I did several offshore races on a boat out of HYC. That area right there is pretty cluttered with junk as noted on the charts. I remember the skipper pointing out an unmarked 4" steel pipe just sticking just up out of the water at a low angle. He said it had holed a few boats. That thing was nasty. Then you had oyster reefs, crab traps, etc. He had his way into the HYC mapped and stuck to it pretty religiously.

Not a friendly spot for sailing around while just eyeballing the water.

The area around Kemah is much more forgiving.

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Sailed there a couple of times out of HYC and found that the old shrimp boats can tap your hull once in a while. Nice people, nasty water.

What kind of boat is it anyway? We are sailors, we'd like some real information so we can relate the situation to the actual vessel.;)

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16 hours ago, Rasputin22 said:

I want whatever keelbolt caulk or gunk that lets one loose a keel and then do 100 miles over the course of three charters! Can I get that stuff from Brent Swain over on the Origami thread? Y'all tell a tall tale down there in Texas!

It does seem far fetched. But if a tall tale then at least one perpetrated by Yachting Monthly not the OP. This story came up in the Cheeki Rafiki thread.

Article found here

Pictures seem compelling

LRSF_Polbream_1.jpg

LRSF_keel2.jpg

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Re: marking hazards - I know some people who "tag" unmarked hazards with gallon milk jugs.  At least the ones close to the marina channel.  We get a lot of submerged deadheads that can move around...

I suppose one could paint the jugs orange, but nobody seems to be that ambitious.  

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8 hours ago, Sail4beer said:

Sailed there a couple of times out of HYC and found that the old shrimp boats can tap your hull once in a while. Nice people, nasty water.

What kind of boat is it anyway? We are sailors, we'd like some real information so we can relate the situation to the actual vessel.;)

It was a Catalina 22 with a 550 lb. solid cast iron swing keel held on by four 5/16" bolts.  These bolts are kind of wimpy compared to others.  A J22 has 5/8" bolts..  The fact that the keel is cast iron also means that the keel did not absorb any of the impact like a fiberglassed keel might. I'm sure the keel is perfectly fine.  However, if we had hit near the bottom of the keel, I would have swung before breaking the bolts.  The keel bolts had been replaced 12 years ago, and the boat has been dry-sailed.  The boat has zero electronics other than nav lights and we were just out for a day sail. In Galveston Bay I've never felt much need for a chart for day sailing, because there really isn't much a chart is going to do for you just sailing back and forth.  FYI - I know plenty about using charts and even took the RYA Coastal Offshore Course for fun just to see if there was something I didn't know. It wouldn't have mattered if we had a chart, because the obstruction was unmarked anyway.  Because it is a swing keel and any bottom I might encounter is soft mud, I've never worried too much about grounding this particular boat because the keel is solid cast iron and can be raised.  However, based on the jolt and sound of the collision, I'm sure we hit something solid and metal.  The boat is not built for racing and has a wide flat bottom.  Sailing it back on a reach without a keel is not really much different than sailing a sunfish on  reach with the board up, you just can't sail to windward.

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Flat bottom. Got it

No keel. Sail like Rimas 

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1 hour ago, HookEm said:

It was a Catalina 22 with a 550 lb. solid cast iron swing keel held on by four 5/16" bolts.  These bolts are kind of wimpy compared to others.  A J22 has 5/8" bolts..  The fact that the keel is cast iron also means that the keel did not absorb any of the impact like a fiberglassed keel might. I'm sure the keel is perfectly fine.  However, if we had hit near the bottom of the keel, I would have swung before breaking the bolts.  The keel bolts had been replaced 12 years ago, and the boat has been dry-sailed.  The boat has zero electronics other than nav lights and we were just out for a day sail. In Galveston Bay I've never felt much need for a chart for day sailing, because there really isn't much a chart is going to do for you just sailing back and forth.  FYI - I know plenty about using charts and even took the RYA Coastal Offshore Course for fun just to see if there was something I didn't know. It wouldn't have mattered if we had a chart, because the obstruction was unmarked anyway.  Because it is a swing keel and any bottom I might encounter is soft mud, I've never worried too much about grounding this particular boat because the keel is solid cast iron and can be raised.  However, based on the jolt and sound of the collision, I'm sure we hit something solid and metal.  The boat is not built for racing and has a wide flat bottom.  Sailing it back on a reach without a keel is not really much different than sailing a sunfish on  reach with the board up, you just can't sail to windward.

Well, that all may be true - but you did knock your freakin' keel off by running into something in a "Caution" area that is clearly marked on the chart - just below your point of impact. So I'm thinking these charts might have helped. It's perfectly clear that your eyeballing things while daysailing didn't work out so well.

That said...it is a crapshoot out there. You were just in an area where there's more crap.

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Remember Ronnie Simpson 800 miles after the keel fell off. 

Quote

Completing the Singlehanded TransPac was a redemption on many levels, but Ronnie grins and tells me there is a postscript. On the return from Hawaii, with his sailing mentor, Ed McCoy, along for the ride, there was a mysterious pop-pop-pop. It turned out to be the sound of Warrior's Wish's keel falling off. Most sailboats without a keel immediately turn upside down. Warrior's Wishsomehow remained upright, though unstable, but there were another 800 miles to San Francisco. They couldn't sail, because wind pressure would capsize the boat. So Ronnie and McCoy, using spare diesel fuel dropped by a passing vessel, managed to motor all the way back to San Francisco. They made a triumphant return through the Golden Gate at four in the morning and were welcomed by a fleet of friends armed with beer and Thai takeout. "It was a bad experience, but I never felt so alive," Ronnie admits. "When I got back to the Golden Gate, it was absolutely the best feeling I have ever had."

 

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39 minutes ago, TQA said:

Remember Ronnie Simpson 800 miles after the keel fell off. 

 

Oh yeah. Now THAT was epic. I was in the middle of all that over on SN. Good times.

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On 8/10/2017 at 6:35 PM, smackdaddy said:

Well, that all may be true - but you did knock your freakin' keel off by running into something in a "Caution" area that is clearly marked on the chart - just below your point of impact. So I'm thinking these charts might have helped. It's perfectly clear that your eyeballing things while daysailing didn't work out so well.

That said...it is a crapshoot out there. You were just in an area where there's more crap.

Here is what the the chart (11327) looks like.  Whatever we hit was roughly in the middle of this screenshot.  I clearly remember seeing the high range marker to the north of us, I know were were not close to either ship channel and am pretty sure we were on or west of the dashed range marker line, so we should not have been anywhere close to the only thing marked "Obstn" and "Subm pile."   If we had been east  or anywhere close to the low range marker I'm sure I would have remember.  There are no other hazards marked.

IMG_3044.jpg

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A Farr MRX over here lost the bottom half of its keel and was still out sailing. The top section was iron though. 

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I've been pretty upset I didn't know how to get a GPS coordinate from my phone.  I've never needed a GPS when within 5 to 10 miles from land because you can see where you are going or at least see the nav aids, even at night.   Realizing I might need to mark an obstruction wasn't something that occurred to me, despite having been sailing for 50 years, it just never came up.  I've never run into an obstruction before.  I figured out how to get a GPS coordinate from my phone afterward.

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