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Thread: Musings on getting a big boat off a sandbar

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Musings on getting a big boat off a sandbar

    I had the opportunity to help a nice family get their very big jet boat off of a gravel bar today. I did not ask how it happened because I did not care, it just does sometimes. I was talking with my boating buddy on the way home about the experience and we made some observations that I will try and list out here. They may seem obvious, but only if you have been out there pushing a big inboard around for any length of time.

    1) Let the water (if there is any) do some work for you. Push or pull down stream.

    2) If you are turning the boat, push/pull as close as you can to the bow. You have the most leverage and it is lighter. Usually the ass of the boat is what is buried and you will be pivoting off of that. The lever arm may be 10 or more feet long with a pointy nosed boat.

    3) lifting the back of the boat is silly unless you have a big mechanical device. The engine and jet unit weigh over 1000 pounds, let alone the hull. If there are 4 people they may have to try and lift 200 pounds each or more to lift the boat up a little. Not likely for long.

    4) Get the nose pointed down stream. Boats move better that way.

    5) Get as much weight out of the boat as you can.

    5) This activity is especially bad on any herniation of an intervertebral disc.

    6) Bring enough gear in case man power alone does not work. This includes a shovel, LOTS of rope, and a way to make a mechanical advantage for pulling. Maybe a sea sock or parachute. Has anybody practiced with this gear?

    7) Standing in the water is cold around here. Have wading gear with you even if you don't plan to get in the water.

    8) Don't be afraid to ask for help, but maybe reserve hitting the help button on the SPOT unit for a little while.

    9) Don't quit, just keep working at it.

    10) For heavens sake, get a stomp grate for your inboard boat. There should be a law against selling them without.

  2. #2


    Dunno how it would work in that setting, but a couple of times we've used salvaged buoys as "rollers" like with the Trojan horse to move surprisingly big boats stranded by the tide. Seems like it would be possible with fenders from a couple of boats. If you can lift/move the bow, you can work the "rollers" into place pretty easily.

  3. #3


    I've heard of someone using deflated basketballs. They put them under the boat and then inflate with a pump. I haven't tried it, but it sounds interesting.

  4. #4
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Big Lake Alaska


    Got it! Bow-----down stream

    1988 M/Y Camargue YachtFisher
    MMSI# 338131469

  5. #5
    Member Grayling Slayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Fairbanks, AK

    Default Re: Musings on getting a big boat off a sandbar

    I always, always carry self rescue gear. The handyman jack is always in the boat. It is rather heavy, but priceless when needed. Works much better then those silly screw jacks if you need to change a tire as well.

    Also stashed in the boat is 1000' of Amsteel rope, a 6' web sling, pulley and several shackles. If I'm traveling unfamiliar waters I usually bring my Lewis winch and a screw anchor as well.

    Being prepared turns a potential emergency into an inconvenience.
    "I'd rather be fishing!"

  6. #6


    Grayling Slayer,

    I carry a high-lift jack too since itís recommended by so many people. I thought it would be good for lifting the corner of a boat to get a roller underneath.

    What high-lift jack applications are you thinking of, and could you describe how each would work?

  7. #7
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Anchorage, Alaska


    The highlift is a great tool and can be used in a variety of applications. I have used mine to jack things up and push them over, to jack them up and place things underneath, and as a winch. The winch part only works if you have rope that does not have much stretch to it.

  8. #8
    Member Jimw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Bow down stream and let the water, if there is any, help with the pushing. Had get a guy off the gravel bar last weekend in his brand new Riddle Marine stand up. Maybe some of you out there know the boat.
    2005 20' Weldcraft Sabre XL 350 MP
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    2009 Polaris Dragon 800 163
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  9. #9
    Member Yukoner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Whitehorse Yukon


    Quote Originally Posted by Daved View Post
    5) This activity is especially bad on any herniation of an intervertebral disc.
    From personal experience? Man, my back hurts just thinking about it.
    Never wrestle with a pig.
    you both get dirty;
    the Pig likes it.

  10. #10


    A danforth or bruce style anchor, a couple hundred feet of rope and a come-a-long works really well.

  11. #11
    Member HCL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Hard to beat a gas powered capstan winch, anchor and driftwood to make deadman, and lots "O" rope.

  12. #12


    I pretty much tried every technique and tool there is for getting a stuck jet boat unstuck. Finally came to the conclusion nothing beats a Lewis winch connected to the biggest chainsaw power head that can be attached to it.
    Then buy a couple of long sections of Amsteel along with some shackles and short tow straps to wrap arpund anchoring points.


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