How to Avoid Underwater Boating Hazards

This boater learned the hard way—pun intended—that studying nautical charts is worthwhile.

October 28, 2021
Watching out for underwater boating hazards
A reader tells a cautionary tale about underwater dangers in boating. Tim Bower

When I first bought my boat—a 19-foot open bow—my waterways were local lakes and, on occasion, the Hudson River in New York. Anyway, I was on our first trip with my three children—all under age 10 at the time—and my 80-something-year-old father on the Hudson.

Familiar with the Hudson River by shore, we spied a riverside restaurant that my dad had always wanted to visit by water. We were looking directly at the restaurant from the main channel and could see it clearly. The way in appeared straight forward, so we headed for it—slowly, thankfully—and then we hit the submerged jetty.

The Hudson River is an estuary. It is tidal for 150 miles inland to Troy, New York. At lower stages of the tide, the jetty is not submerged and is visible. Of course, the jetty was submerged by a high tide at the time of our incident.


No one was hurt. Our crew was just a bit shook up. I rocked the bow free, and we made our way in to the restaurant. At that point, were informed about—and could plainly see—channel markers both north and south marking the safe approach.

Ever since that incident, I have educated and taught novice boaters that just because you see water does not mean you can go wherever you please. Read charts! Get local knowledge! Know the navigational markers! And go slow or stop if unfamiliar with the water.

It has served my family well. All these years later, we now run a 23-foot dual console on the coastal waters of Cape Cod.


Greg Reeves


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