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What's your definition of shallow water?


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I'm a long time TMC viewer/participant but an admitted poser in that I don't have an inboard yet much less a Malibu. I'm working on my wife to replace our deckboat with a 'bu but I'm curious about water depth based on the local lake we frequent. There are several gravel bars that we navigate around when cruising the lake, even with our outboard. But there is a communal sand/gravel bar that many boaters frequent as a gathering spot that averages 1.8-3.0 ft deep according to my current depth finder. It's easy with an OB, but what is your definition of shallow with an inboard? I'm not talking about powering through at speed, put idling over and anchoring for frisbee, games, floating, etc....

Thoughts?

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Just guessing, but I think my boat draws less depth than many outboards or I/O's. The bad news may be that running aground in an inboard may very well be more costly to repair.

Steve B.

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Shallow to me is < 3'. Any shallower and trouble is waiting to happen, and not worth the risk. Even with a depth finder/sounder, it's not exact and doesn't always account for debris like underwater branches, rocks, logs.

JMHO

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If I know the lake and the bottom real well I will surf, and be up on plane in anything 6ft +. If I dont know the area well and unsure of the repuation of the lake floor... 15ft+ is my threshold for fast movement.

Regardless of how well I know the lake, anything 5ft and less I am at idle. worried about logs, or that lone wolf rock or obstruction that may be down there waiting to end my season. long story but I once hit a submersed bridge piling in 10ft of water. puts the fear of God in you.

anything under 3ft I am at a very very slow idle....

Also, generally you have another foot of true water depth than what the depth finder says as the sending unit is usually 8-12" under water, depending on where its mounted, mine is exactly mid boat in the V section of the hull which is the lowest most submersed portion.....but also remember your prop and ruddler are about 12" deeper than the hull. so when you see a depth... such at 2ft... roughly means 2ft from your prop or ruddler to the lake floor... assuming no rocks or obstructions. Lots of folks see 3ft on the depth guage and jump in to find water up to their necks.

Edited by nyryan2001
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Idle 3' to 5'. 6'+ just run it like normal.

I don't even want to float in anything less than 3'. Even if you are not moving, just drifting into something solid on the ground can bend a prop blade (I did exactly that in 2012 on my original prop). Inboards are more sensitive to out of balance props, so bend a blade even a little bit can cause a noticeable vibration in the boat. You never want to touch ground with the running gear of an inboard.

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Idle 3' to 5'. 6'+ just run it like normal.

I don't even want to float in anything less than 3'. Even if you are not moving, just drifting into something solid on the ground can bend a prop blade (I did exactly that in 2012 on my original prop). Inboards are more sensitive to out of balance props, so bend a blade even a little bit can cause a noticeable vibration in the boat. You never want to touch ground with the running gear of an inboard.

+1, my thoughts are if I can get out of the boat and walk on the bottom, I'll walk the boat in. NEVER have I pulled one up on shore or a sand bar of any type.

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My depth alarm starts goin bonkers about 3'. The boat will handle a bit under 2' before it hits if it's not weighted down. So you better be out of gear & goin slow.

I don't like to ride in anything less than about 10'..... although we push that occasionally ...... paid for it a few times too. I hit bottom on the SkySki at Banks in about 3' or 4' of water a couple years ago. :Doh:

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Water depth is all relative. Years ago I was glancing at my depth gauge, which read 17 feet, when I struck a rock that I estimate was a little over 15 feet tall.

Fortunately it was a no wake zone so damage was limited to gel coat and fins.

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ahopkinsVTX

A lot of people would probably freak if they saw some of the lakes we ski in. Some of the private lakes around here are only 3-4ft deep at the ends and we take off in it all the time. BUT we also know what the bottom is and it is a lot different in a DD than a larger v-drive. Malibu says I only draft 22" and that seems about right because I can idle, slowly, up to the sand bar point at one of the islands on our lake to about 2.5-3ft without hitting. But I also KNOW that the bottom is sand.

Side note - on Lake St Clair my friends parents have a 46ft Sea Ray Sundancer. Lake St Clair is crazy shallow. We get up on plane when the depth finder reads 3ft below the boat. Turns a massive amount of mud but there is no other choice in some areas. When we go into Muscamoot Bay, aka The Moot we read 2.5 in an area as we go in. It is sketchy for sure and we crazy to me the first few times we would go out. We have to stay on plane to get into the bay. Pretty crazy driving a 46ft boat into a bay on basically one line available watching mud come up in your rooster tail. I have pictures somewhere I will try to dig them up.

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If I didn't know the lake I would be very nervous under 3' of water and I would only be idling.

With that said, I know my lake. On the west side of the lake where I live it is sandy near the waters edge and beyond that it is muck... like 2-3' of muck. If you try to walk in it, it's up to your knees. I know I can easily move in 2' of water because the depth gauge is picking up the surface of the muck.

If I was on the east side of my lake, it's all little rocks and hard surfaces. No way I would have the boat in gear if it was under 3 feet unless was tapping it to get out into deeper water.

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ahopkinsVTX

If I didn't know the lake I would be very nervous under 3' of water and I would only be idling.

With that said, I know my lake. On the west side of the lake where I live it is sandy near the waters edge and beyond that it is muck... like 2-3' of muck. If you try to walk in it, it's up to your knees. I know I can easily move in 2' of water because the depth gauge is picking up the surface of the muck.

If I was on the east side of my lake, it's all little rocks and hard surfaces. No way I would have the boat in gear if it was under 3 feet unless was tapping it to get out into deeper water.

100% agree! To me a depth gauge is just the starting point. I know the lakes we ski on very well which is the only reason I am OK with running that shallow.

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There's a section of the Columbia River off Sunland which Bill_AirJunky has mentioned before with a huge (normally) submerged sand bar. A few years ago, I was driving/my wife was skiing along that section for the 1st time when all of a sudden she signaled and dropped. I turned around and she was standing in about 2.5 ft of water. Freaked me out big time. Had no idea it was there, but nowadays when we pass that area, we hang to the cliff side of the river. I was surprised / thankful we didn't hit something sitting on that bar, or the bar itself, but even more thankful my wife didn't either. Boats can be fixed a lot easier than people. I don't have a depth gauge (yet) but based on a recent thread here I think I'll look into one of those units that mount inside to the hull for peace of mind.

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Do you guys know if the depth gauge is giving you the actual true depth from the surface to the bottom?

Since the reader is on the bottom of the hull, I'm guessing it's 1-1.5' below the surface so I wonder if it uses that as its reference point or if it compensates?

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Thanks for the all the feedback. I should have been more clear in the original question. To start, I know the lake pretty well as we've boated on it for many years. No submerged tree stumps or crazy obstructions that I've ever heard of like old cement bridge pilings, etc... Since we frequent the sand/gravel bar with our current boat, it is a requirement for getting a new boat. This isn't a beaching scenario, strictly anchoring, but as mentioned, it's a bit shallow. We would never power through at speed, and I already know where to keep clear of, even with an outboard. Draft of my deckboat is very shallow, so it will be a change for us to be much more cautious with a deeper draft.

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A lot of people would probably freak if they saw some of the lakes we ski in. Some of the private lakes around here are only 3-4ft deep at the ends and we take off in it all the time. BUT we also know what the bottom is and it is a lot different in a DD than a larger v-drive. Malibu says I only draft 22" and that seems about right because I can idle, slowly, up to the sand bar point at one of the islands on our lake to about 2.5-3ft without hitting. But I also KNOW that the bottom is sand.

Side note - on Lake St Clair my friends parents have a 46ft Sea Ray Sundancer. Lake St Clair is crazy shallow. We get up on plane when the depth finder reads 3ft below the boat. Turns a massive amount of mud but there is no other choice in some areas. When we go into Muscamoot Bay, aka The Moot we read 2.5 in an area as we go in. It is sketchy for sure and we crazy to me the first few times we would go out. We have to stay on plane to get into the bay. Pretty crazy driving a 46ft boat into a bay on basically one line available watching mud come up in your rooster tail. I have pictures somewhere I will try to dig them up.

St. Clair should be better this year... Army Corps of Engineers predicts a 9"-22" increase in water levels on St. Clair this year! :rockon:

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ahopkinsVTX

St. Clair should be better this year... Army Corps of Engineers predicts a 9"-22" increase in water levels on St. Clair this year! :rockon:

Awesome! I would like to not pull mud behind the TXi going into the Moot if at all possible haha! It would be awesome if it came up enough to get through all of the back cuts and bays to avoid the main channels.

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There is a draft section on this site under Resources - Malibu Specifications that can give you a relative sense of what the boat will draw....my BU is 18". We have a sandy bottom lake and I have no problem going down to 30" for anchoring on a sandbar...but if I have to go less than 4' then I idle and if it's less than 30" then I get out and walk it...I have done a slow idle at that depth but it's too nerve racking watching out for the stray concrete block/log/rock.

my 2cents

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Here's my 2 cents worth. Our lake is quite shallow and where we pull into our lifts it is 3' and less as the year comes to an end. My VLX seems to handle the shallow water better than the OB's that our friends have. A few of the people bought Yamaha's just because the lake was shallow and now that they see my Vdrive they are surprised. One already switched.....

Our bottom is SAND though so I'm not as worried. Get a BU....your wife will love it!!

With regards to surfing in shallow water.....it doesn't work. Need 12'+ to get a decent wave IMO.

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My depth alarm starts goin bonkers about 3'. The boat will handle a bit under 2' before it hits if it's not weighted down. So you better be out of gear & goin slow.

I don't like to ride in anything less than about 10'..... although we push that occasionally ...... paid for it a few times too. I hit bottom on the SkySki at Banks in about 3' or 4' of water a couple years ago. :Doh:

Ow

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