One of the most frustrating experiences when boating to the beach in coastal waters if failing to account for the tide and getting stranded. To be more clear, stranded refers to the boat laying high and dry because the tide went out before it was moved to deeper water. Fortunately I have never made this mistake but its more common that you think. Getting stuck at the beach on a boat is no fun. 10 ways to avoid grounding your boat at low tide.

Use A Tide App

No question about it, with today’s cell phone technology you can download a tide app in a matter of seconds. 

The tide app is an excellent resource to monitor the day’s tides in addition to where you currently stand in a rising or falling tide. 

Furthermore, tide apps are free, so you will not need to fork out money to keep up to speed at all times while boating. I recommend the NOAA Marine Weather app

Monitor The Tides With Your Tide App

While yes, the first step is downloading the app but the next is actually using the tide app. First, check the days highs and lows before departing the dock. 

Secondly, if you determine you’re on a falling tide, you’re going to have to pay close attention when anchoring at the beach. During your stay at the beach continue to monitor the tide in the app as it falls. 

If you still have two more feet of tide to fall and you’re anchored in two feet of water, do the math. Without question, you will be high and dry. The app will allow you to adjust the position of your boat before its too late. 

Anchor In Deep Water

As a former captain I am very experienced in getting a boat close to the beach without grounding the vessel. 

One of the easiest ways to avoid the risk of being grounded all together is to anchor in dep water. However, this does present a challenge for passengers who want to go back and forth between the boat and the beach. 

Instead, you can choose to anchor within a wading distance but continuously move the boat further from shore as the tide falls. 

Use A Long Anchor Chain

With the combination of falling tides and swift currents, you should always use a long anchor chain at the beach. 

Importantly, deploying long shots of the chain when you first anchor during a falling tide will allow you to make adjustment through the day without turning on the engine. As the the falls, pull up anchor chain to move the boat away from the beach and into deeper water. 

Lastly, paying out extra anchor chain will prevent the anchor from accidentally pulling, causing the boat to drift. You don’t want to watch your boat drift away when you’re sitting in the sand. 

Remain Near Channels

One of the biggest mistakes is meandering long distances through shallow waters to approach a beach. With a falling tide, you’re going to struggle to navigate back to deep water with the engine running. 

With that said, anchor the boat near deep water for a quick escape to safety during dead low tide. 

Toss In A Stern Anchor

No question about it, whenever I anchor at the beach, I utilize a stern anchor. The stern anchor is highly beneficial during a falling or low tide. 

Rather than allowing the stern of your boat to drift holding it in place will allow you to position the boat precisely in deeper water. Remember, the depth to the port or starboard may be significantly lower than where you are. Keep your stern centerned to safe water by using a stern anchor. 

Watch The Shoreline

One of the best tips is to watch the shoreline behind the boat when anchored at the beach. It can be surprising for inexperienced boaters how quickly the water recedes, and the shoreline grows. 

Unfortunately, unsuspecting boaters are high and dry because they didn’t pay attention to the water rushing out and the beach growing largers as a result. In some cases, the beach meets the position of the boat. Always monitor the shoreline. 

Leave Enough Scope On The Anchor Chain Or Line

The scope of an anchor line is not often considered by boaters. However, the scope or length of the anchor line or chain is instrumental in holding a boats position. 

Unfortunately, failing to pay out enough scope will cause one of two issues. First, the anchor will drag thus the boat drifting into potentially more shallow waters or into deep water. Furthermore, this is exacerbated by strong water flow from tidal changes. 

Secondly, failing to deploy enough chain or line can cause the anchor to pull up and out of the sand. A pulled anchor can be a disastrous situation where you can be left stranded on the beach as the boat drifts away. 

Use A Measuring Device Aside From A Depth Finder

I use my depth finder when anchoring at the beach to monitor how much closer I can get to the shoreline. 

However, when at anchor, I tend to lean more towards measuring depth with a paddle, fishing rod, or fishing net. The reason I measure by hand is because you cannot rely 100% on a depth finder’s accuracy. Instead, a hand measurement will tell me exactly how much water I have beneath the boat so I can make an informed decision about shifting my position. 

Have A Backup Plan

If you get stuck, it’s going to be an unpleasant day on the water. Furthermore you’re at risk of being stuck with no place to go if a thunderstorm rolls up on you. A back up plan is not always possible if you don’t have friends or family in the area with another boat. Instead, be smart and plan the tides. 

Don’t Get Your Boat Stuck On The Beach At Low Tide

Without a doubt, getting stuck on low tide at a beach is complete avoidable.By following these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of your boat getting stuck at the beach as the tide goes out. Be smart to prevent ruining yours and everyone elses day aboard the vessel.