Why is Knowing the Depth of Water Beneath Your Boat So Important?
In our experience far too many people have no idea of the depth of water beneath their boat which is worrying because novice boaters, and more than a few experienced boating folks, show no understanding of the ‘craft’ of sailing safely.
In home waters boaters may have some awareness of shallows, reefs and submerged obstacles that can be dangerous. New sailors and occasional boaters often sail unprepared and ignorant of the risks and in doing so not only put their own lives at risk but those of the people who will go to their assistance.
Old hands local to where you are sailing will know their coastline intimately, by the color of the water they know the deeps and the shallows and the very many uncharted objects just waiting to rip out the bottom of a boat or at the very least do damage including causing water to leak into the boat. Cautious (wise) boaters in foreign and unknown waters would do well to ask the locals, sailing clubs and professionals etc, for their advice about safe sailing areas, or copy where the locals go and where they avoid.
Clearly fragile hulls and keels are at risk in waters with hazards beneath the water and unseen. The sailing press often carries reports of sail boat keels being torn away by underwater objects, we see no reason to tempt fate!
Very large boats and those with sophisticated navigation systems may be better prepared but ask the people who were on board the Costa Concordia about skippers who cut corners because they ignored the rules, and the sonar, and ran aground!
Motor driven boats and Cruisers usually move far more quickly through the water, obviously, some travel at speeds that make them less responsive and an inexperienced skipper can get into trouble very much faster and with disastrous consequences. Observations need to be heightened when travelling fast. Whilst a sail boat is very maneuverable fast boats can be upon a hazard in the blink of an eye.
Boaters who are wise can carry with them a hand-held device that will show them the water depth anywhere in the world, therefore, boaters at all levels of ability can have a means of checking the water depth where they are. Even as a means of double checking it makes good sense.
By the way, fishing fans and scuba divers, and anyone else who loves sport from a boat can check out where the deeper areas are too, useful if you are trying to catch lunch! Always follow the safety rules when diving.
Take care out there and enjoy.