I have a confession to make: I've run boats aground on several occasions. Granted, it's always been at dead-idle speed when poking up shallow rivers. And the damage, thankfully, has so far been limited to a few nicked propeller blades and shredded rubber hubs. But, despite all precautions, it happens. If we were to rank groundings and collisions on the scale of skippers' worst fears, I suspect they'd fall somewhere between an engine room fire and the pirates' scene from Captain Ron.
Hitting something in a well-built boat is usually survivable, but is still a scary and potentially life-threatening situation. In this chapter, we will take a look at how some common hull materials respond to impacts.