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Author Topic:   Seamanship--manuevering in heavy seas
Highwater posted 06-27-2002 09:57 PM ET (US)   Profile for Highwater  
On our a recent trip down the Intercoastal waterway in our 15' Whaler, my wife and I passed a 70' yacht that was cruising at about 20 knots. The wake behind the yacht was larger than I had anticipated, and the procedure made me a little nervous. We passed slowly, gradually climbing up the back of the wake, then sliding down the front side. Going off the front of the waves, the boat would be at a steep angle, like a roller coaster at the top of a hill, ready to plunge. We were concerned that the bow of the Whaler would go under water when it hit the trough, although this never happened. We did not take on a drop of water.

Anyway, I wondered if we might have been in danger if the wake (or waves) had been larger. Should we have radioed the yacht and asked the captain to please throttle back for us, or was there absolutely no danger? Should we have taken the waves at an angle, or would that have only increased the odds of taking on water or capsizing? Thanks! David.

EddieS posted 06-28-2002 02:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for EddieS  Send Email to EddieS     

Best thing is do what you did and to slow down. If the waves are really steep you shoud slow down and quarter them, hold your bow at an angle of 45 degrees.

You could have radioed the captain to make him aware of your presence and to watch his wake. However not having been there I am not sure how much advance notice he had of your presence. At any rate I would be more concerned with handling the boat than worrying about radioing a vessel that you may not be able to identify.

I was once fishing an area called Paradise Cove in the SF Bay. We were at anchor fishing for sturgeon when we noticed a very steep series of 3ft waves close together comming at us broadside. All we could do was hang on tight and start picking up gear, coffee cups, etc after they had passed. We were on my previous boat a 33ft Luhrs, it rocked us real good. In the distance we could see that the wake was from a large tug towing a heavily laden barge.

Stay alert!


Highwater posted 06-28-2002 07:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
We were going in the same direction as the yacht--we were passing it. So we were going slow relative to the yacht (i.e., the yacht was going 20 knots and we were going 21 or 22 knots). So we knew the name of the yacht and had plenty of time to radio her. I thought that it would not be necessary to ask her to slow down and in fact thought that it would be fun to surf down the waves. Actually, it was fun, I just wondered if we were in any danger.

Would you still recommend taking the waves at a 45 degree angle when they are "following seas?"

Wreckdiver posted 06-28-2002 07:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for Wreckdiver  Send Email to Wreckdiver     
If you are overtaking, I believe you are the burdened vessel and have the responsibility to not interfere with the other boat in any way. He is not required to slow down so you can pass.
ChocLabWhaler posted 06-28-2002 08:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for ChocLabWhaler  Send Email to ChocLabWhaler     
Were you in any danger? That's for you to decide and avoid according to your own levels of comfort and experience.
I can tell you that in my indestructible youth, I tried to flip, pound, pitch-pole, and bury various whalers. Could NOT do it. I even jumped a ferry wake in the LI Sound, much like what the PWC's do now. Came close to roling it in the air. I put one heck of a bend in the siderail when we landed. Ribs hurt for weeks. We shipped some water which drained almost as quickly as it came in. After we stopped shaking, we retreived a cushion overboard and idled all the way back to the trailer. I've tried to kill one, couldn't do it. That's why I have a Whaler.
DaveH posted 06-28-2002 09:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for DaveH  Send Email to DaveH     
May I suggest that you, and anyone else who may not know (are you sure?) the correct answer to rules regarding passing situations, purchase a copy of Chapman's Piloting. It's a bible for seaman, has been around for decades and updated from time to time. Every boat owner should read this book, period.

jimh posted 06-28-2002 09:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In overtaking the larger boat and its wake you were in a following seas situation. This is one point of sail (can you say that about a powerbaot?) where the Whaler hull has excellent characteristics. Running downwind in following seas is one of the Whaler hull's strong points.

If the waves are really large, however, you will find going dead downwind is better than trying to quarter them.

kingfish posted 06-28-2002 09:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
I was running down the Ohio River in my Outrage 22' a little downstream from Cincinnatti two or three years ago on a beautiful sunny afternoon, just cruising, sitting up on top of the leaning post with my mind about a light year away, at about 30 mph.

As I drifted in and out of reverie, I just sort of half-noticed a big tug quite a distance off my port side going up-river, and a big cruiser quite a distance off my starboard side, also going up-river. All of a sudden I came clean out of my reverie as I happened to look at what was directly in front of me, which was the confluence of the wakes of the two big boats, and the consequential waves were *huge*.

I had only the time to plant my feet firmly on the floor, grab the wheel with both hands and plant my butt firmly against the leaning post, didn't even have time to pull the throttle back, before we hit the waves. The timimg and location was apparently perfect in that the wave we hit at 30 mph was just like a ski jump made out of water. We were launched off something like a four or five foot wave at about a 45 degree attitude, and *everything* but the propeller left the water.

At our apogee the bow light had to have been fifteen feet out of the water and my head as I stood behind the console had to be ten feet or more above the water. We floated back to earth in that same 45 degree attitude, so the stern settled first and then the rest of the boat followed, in a perfect landing.

Things smoothed out, I throttled back to idle and sat there and shook for about twenty minutes as about a quart of adrenaline worked its way through my system. The whole thing was basically out of my control (except to the extent that I *could* have been paying attention, and have been going much more slowly and in a relative direction to the waves of my choosing), so I can take no credit in the safe landing, and I guess I really don't have any idea how any other boat would have handled the same situation. I choose to feel that at least some credit should go to the boat and I'm sticking to that story.

Two morals to tie this story back to the thread (three, if you add, "Do as I say, don't do as I do"):

1. Pay attention to what you're doing out there, no matter how nice a day it is.

2. Plan your approach to waves that are large relative to the size of your boat and take them slowly (keep enough power for steerage) if they are big, quartering as EddieS suggested.

To have the opportunity to follow #2, you *do* have to follow #1.



mcole posted 06-28-2002 10:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for mcole  Send Email to mcole     
The overtaken vessel is the most privleged. Even if the overtaking vessel is a sailboat under sail. You MUST burden or give way your vessel to a vessel you are passing or overtaking.
JDH posted 06-28-2002 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for JDH  Send Email to JDH     
In the part of Puget Sound that I 'Whale' in (I don't boat, I definetly Whale!)we have a fair amount of tug traffic with oil tankers and Alaska bound barges.

The super tugs that they are using down't have a conventional screw, rather a giant 'eggbeater' system. These tugs will put up a vertical wall of water that is anywhere from 4' to 8' high - no real trough either. It is the single scariest thing I have eveer seen!.

My former employer had a 25ft whaler (revenge WT IIRC) with a bracket with at first twin Yam 200s and now Honda 130 4 strokes. He has a house on one of the non ferry islands and told me that he saw an even bigger wake from the same tugs, and it was as if someone just dropped his boat into the water from 15ft.

I have learned in the larger waves here to throttle back as I crest a wave, and gun it down the front and up the next swell, but with these tug wakes, its more like a standing square wave than a standing sine wave.

I still need to figure a better way of dealing with them.


Bigshot posted 06-28-2002 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Man I would have followed that boat for an hour and just jumped his wake.

When overtaking a boat with a big wake remember 2 things. You are basically quatering the wave because it is going out in a V pattern. The wake is steeper than an ocean wave would be and is also moving at 20 knots so conditions can't be replicated in the sea. I prefer to hit waves head on because I can judge them better. I also like to come as close to the stern of the vessel as possible because you only have 1 wave there instead of 2 or 3. My wife likes to surf but I find it more unpredictable than when heading towards a boat. As far as answering your question, pitchpoling a Whaler is VERY hard to do because of design and flotation. I have pitchpoled my Scarab off a yacht wake going slow, kinda sucks when the nose goes in and the water just rides up the bow and over the windshield. You think you are going to the bottom but the you pop up and are like "What the hell just happened!". Thank God for builge pumps.

gunnelgrabber posted 06-28-2002 11:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
re: tugs...barges..
In the icw between apalachicola (wimico-white city-overstreet) to panama city,fl. some places get twisty and narrow and i've seen ,from the land thankfully, where the tug loses the barge and it smacks into the bank! it'll go 3/4 of its length into it. it's always made me wonder about being there at the time it'd be plenty exciting in a canoe or a whaler...lm
Wreckdiver posted 06-28-2002 12:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wreckdiver  Send Email to Wreckdiver     
When it kicks up in the Great Lakes, every wave is like one of those wakes!
NEVER SCARED posted 06-28-2002 01:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
Folks, this is where the Whaler hull shines! I frequently pass through a place called the Potato patch, lots of huge swells from the Pacific funnel through a narrow opening with opposite winds causing confused seas. I love passing large tugs. Everyone in the boat thinks Im gonna stuff the bow but they're suprised at how well we pass through. This is in an 80's outrage 18'. Im not sure how the others react.
Jay A posted 06-28-2002 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jay A    
Taking on waves in a Whaler can be at times a religous experience! God help those who are sitting in the bow!As a kid I would perform what we called "Wave hoppin" try to get as much air under the hull and hope the engine exhaust sound would amplify!Or,"surfing the wake"! I had a friend of mine sitting on the bow when we hit a large wave. He was sitting "crossed legged" when he left the boat (or the boat left him)the bow came back up and he was back in the same position with his legs still crossed! He wanted to do it again! Zero G's in a whaler...Awsome!!!
lae posted 06-28-2002 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for lae  Send Email to lae     
Good thread and lots of good advice. I've only stuffed every boat I've ever owned till this one (1974 Katama). I pounded it full of spray at 3 am in November but my back went away and I got too cold to bury it What eats me is windblown rollers. Takes a 6 to stuff an old 32' Chris and 18" to bury a 10' alum. with three (220,220,180) guys. The list goes on.
Highwater posted 06-28-2002 10:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Regardless of the size of the Whaler, it seems that no one has ever taken on water by sliding down the front of a large wave in a following sea. No one has "buried" the nose in the trough, or "pitch-poled" a Whaler surfing down the front side of a large wave. It is reassuring that Whalers handle so well in a following sea.

I appreciate these comments because I wanted to make sure that I was not endangering the lives of my wife and daughters by passing large yachts at 22 knots. It did not feel dangerous to me, but I just wanted to see if other had experienced the same thing.

I thought that Bigshot's suggestion about passing close to the boat was especially helpful, as I had assumed (incorrectly) that it would be safer to give the burdened yacht we were passing plenty of room, and that by doing so we might pass over smaller waves. On the contrary, the waves were huge, and instead of there being just one wave to pass over, there were about four waves.

Next time I will radio my intentions (ask permission?), then I will come right up behind the yacht and, with a slight push on the throttle (to take charge of the situation), will veer off at a 45 degree angle so that I pass directly over the one, large wake. Would Chapman agree with this?

I suppose that if you were in a huge "perfect" storm, the ideal scenario would be to ride on the back of a wave until the seas calmed or you were forced by lack of fuel or lack of navigable water to turn and head into the waves. Right?

vdbgroup posted 06-28-2002 10:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for vdbgroup  Send Email to vdbgroup     
Take a big slurp of beer. Wipe your mouth of foam. Set the beer down. Punch the throttle full, and fly. A 15' Whaler "Outboardski" is born.
whaleryo posted 06-28-2002 10:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     

You just reminded me of something that happened 25 years ago. I had just bought a brand new 15' bowrider ( I won't reveal the name to avoid harsh feedback). My father was at the helm, and when we approached the wake of a rather large vessel that was coming toward us, he throttled down to idle. The wake broke over our bow and I remember that it seemed like viewing a movie in slow-motion. The water seemed to enter the boat for hours. I was thinking "I can't believe it but this brand new boat that I just bought is going to the bottom and we'll all be swimming in about 30 seconds". Eventually the water stopped coming in and we were OK. Now I know that you have to maintain some speed to avoid this, but I also have confidence that no matter how much water comes in, my Whaler won't leave me floating around by myself.


Jay A posted 06-28-2002 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jay A    
Highwater: I got news for you,It is possible to "bury" your bow in a Whaler!It's happened to me more than once.Conditions of weather and current and boat traffic can produce the right frequency between peak and trough.In my case with a 13' Whaler I've had waves crash over my bow and "slap" me in the chest. And a friend of mine had windows pop out in his 16'center console.And here in Gloucester,Ma we know a little something about a "Perfect Storm"! If you do get caught in "nasty" weather with loss of power I would hope you know how to use a sea anchor. A little practice using one could save your life if needed. A line tied to the handle of a bucket works nicely.
Highwater posted 06-29-2002 07:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Jay, Regarding the waves that came over your bow: were you heading into the waves or were you surfing down the backside of waves in a following sea (as described above)? If you are talking about "waves crashing over your bow and slapping you in the chest" I think you are describing a different situation than what I meant to address in this thread. I'm talking about a situation in a following sea where the boat does not turn horizontal upon hitting the trough, but instead continues straight down, plunging the bow under water and perhaps flipping the boat on top of you. It is my understanding that this has happened with other boats, but not with a Whaler. Right?

Bill, I believe that your comments are also about a situation where you are heading into waves. That is not what I was seeking advice about but it is still very interesting because I had thought that (from a safety standpoint), it would be best to head slowly into the oncoming wave. If Kingfish had not been going so fast, his experience with the big wave would have been safer (although not as much fun:)

gunnelgrabber posted 06-29-2002 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
very interesting!...back to bigshot's crossing the huge wake up close to the overtaken boat's stern...that makes sense especially compared getting over 3 or so farther out BUT! imagine a skipper(on the overtaken craft) who is sensitive about his space,delicate sensibilty...easily offended! etc...wouldn't it be a violation of protocol or common sense to "put your boweye on him" before crossing? i.e. sort of like jetski buzz job?...i think i'd be hesitant to do that.. and you?....lm
kingfish posted 06-29-2002 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
It's kind of hard to tell here just how close "close" is, kind of in the eye of the beholder, but generally I don't like someone creeping up on my stern because all of a sudden I feel limited in my options, no matter who has the right of way, and become concerned that if this guy isn't on top of things and I want or need to back off in a hurry, I'll be wearing him as a license plate.

Conversely, I don't like getting too close when I am overtaking because due to the nature of overtaking a following wake, especially a big one, there can be a period when you are cresting the wake or going down the front side when you really don't have complete control, and if the overtaken boat suddenly slows or veers into your course, your options can be very limited and in some cases all bad.

DaveH posted 06-30-2002 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for DaveH  Send Email to DaveH     

You are getting some decent advice but every situation requires a slightly different action. I tend to use the method that Bigshot mentioned close to the overtaking vessel to clear yourself quickly. However, in some winding, narrow channels, it may be unsafe to pass. If you are unsure, throttle back and match speeds(you mentioned only a 1-2 knot difference between yourself and the slower vessel) and enjoy the ride. Just ensure that you are far enough back that approaching vessels have a line of sight to you. The benefits of a large yacht clearing wakes and wind driven chop will make for a nicer ride and save fuel.

By the way, "Chapman Piloting" mentions signaling your intentions with your horn. This will hopefully result in a return confirmation signal or a "don't pass" signal. I do not think 10% of the people on the water know which signal to use or why. Your use of radio will work too but I frown on all the unecessary chatter on VHF today. If everyone used the VHF to signal a pass, there would not be enough "room" for real talk such as emergencies.

jimh posted 06-30-2002 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Regarding use of whistle signals:

When I was a boy my father would take the family down to a park on the shore of the Detroit River on hot summer evenings to "watch the boats go by." At that time, air conditioning was not standard equipment in your house or car, and sitting by the river was a cooling alternative.

Because of the far greater number of lake freighters in operation then (hundreds of them compared with just 60-80 now), it was a virtual certainty that you would see a freighter. In fact, it was a certainty that you would see a steady stream of them in both directions. This produced a great deal of signaling with their whistles. As a boy, it was great fun to hear these loud ship's horns blowing.

The regulations still state that ships must signal their intentions to pass and agree on a meeting with whistle signals, but this may now be omitted if the vessels have previously agreed by radio. Since VHF Marine Band radio is universal on these ships, they now contact each other and arrange for meets via radio. Whistle signals are not blown for this any more.

To keep up the tradition of using the ship's whistle, however, the Captains of Great Lakes freighters often blow a salute to fellow members of their sailing fraternal lodge, an unofficial signal of "LONG-SHORT-SHORT" on the ship's whistle. This as about the only signaling done these days on the Great Lakes.

You will frequently hear ships exchange this salute when meeting. It is somewhat confusing because the signals for meets are either ONE WHISTLE (PORT) or TWO WHISTLES (STARBOARD).

By the way, an easy way to remember the whistle signals is to remember they're the same length as the words; one syllable (PORT) is one whistle, and two syllables (STAR-BOARD) is two whistles.

If you blow one whistle, this means "I intend to leave your vessels to PORT." This is the usual meet, that is, keep to the right.

On the radio it is common for Captains to refer to the meet as a "One-Whistle" or "Two Whistle" meet, using the signals as a shorthand for their intentions.


Jay A posted 06-30-2002 01:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jay A    
I've taken on huge amount of water in a Whaler by burying my bow,however,a whaler stability and positive floatation can offer that onboard water "a ride" . Any boat can be as safe as the operator can handle it. Common sense and knowing the abilities of you and your vessel can go a long way to safe boating.When I was a "hot shot Whaler kid" I'd do things with that boat I wouldn't think of doing today.(If so my back wouldn't handle it!)But because of it's toughness and all,I,m here today to tell about it! And so isn't that 1970 Whaler!
OutrageMan posted 06-30-2002 03:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
Until about 10 years ago, here in northern Door County, nearly every kid who lived on a boat (very common) or who's parents had water property had a 13 or 15 foot Whaler. There were literally a few dozen of them within a 15 mile stretch area of coastline.

It is very possible to pitch-pull these boats. I can almost garentee you that every kid who had one has a story about doing it.

Heck, last year, (as my father will attest to) the two of us came within a second of doing it in my OR 22 w/WD. Very scary.


Highwater posted 06-30-2002 05:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Just to clarify, I was crusing at about 30 knots and I slowed to 22 knots to pass. I was trying to pass the safest way possible.

I passed like I would pass a car on the highway; that is, I pulled around to the left, and put the yacht on my starboard. So, if I had to do it again, I would radio the other boat on VHF channel 16 and say, "I'm passing on your two whistle, captain." Right?

I am surprised to hear that some people have buried the bow, or maybe even "pitch-poled" their Whalers while surfing down the front side of a large wave in a following sea. However, if I understand correctly, this has only happened in situations where the pilot was intentionally trying to drive the vessel hard and fast. I don't think that I was in any danger passing a 70' yacht when both vessels were going virtually the same speed (which I still believe was the safest way to pass). Right? Thanks!

Bigshot posted 07-01-2002 09:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I did not say it was not impossible to pitchpole or stuff the bow of a whaler. I said it was probably impossible to di it on the backside of a boat wake.

I was outside and the wind picked up.....bad. I was hopping from one crest to the other. When I got in the mouth of the Barnegat inlet the waves got farther apart and I drove right through the back of the wave filling the boat to the gunwales. It is possible to stuff, not passing another vessel though....even in a 9' squall(I surfed every yacht on Barnegat bay with one).

When I say come close to the stern....use some discretion here people. This aint no exact science or else we would have lanes now would'nt we. Learn how to handle you boat.....or at least stay away from me if you don't.

Highwater posted 07-01-2002 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
I'm learning, Nick. That's why I come to this forum and seek advice from people like you.

Most of my boating is done with two little girls on board so I am not at liberty to push the envelope as you have had the opportunity to do in your youth.

I am relieved to hear that it is safe to pass a large yacht from behind at 22 knots. I thought it was safe at the time, but I just wanted some reassurance.

I realize that it is difficult to quantify the distance with which someone might safely (and politely) pass another vessel. Also, there are a plethora of variables to consider, including the width of the channel, the number of other boats in the area, and prior communication (or lack of communication) with the vessel that is being overtaken. Nevertheless, I am guessing that to get so close that the wake is only one wave may be too close for comfort. I may actually be in no danger, but the skipper of the other yacht might perceive that I am in danger and may think that I am foolish or impolite.

So, to ease the minds of the skipper of the yacht and to keep my wife happy, I have concluded that it might be safest and most polite to give the yacht a berth of at least 50 feet. This assumes we have a wide channel and are going about 22 knots.

If that makes no sense, please advise. (Chapman's book is on my wish list).

Tom W Clark posted 07-01-2002 11:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

First of all the wake from a large yacht is not the same as heavy seas. They behave very differently. I have many years of experience with large yacht waves and small boats since I spent most of my pre-teen and teenage summers "hopping" boat wakes in Agate Passage here on Puget Sound where many many boats of all sorts get funneled together. It's like a perpetual "Water Waves" park on sunny summer days!

Rest assured you did just fine with your 15' Whaler and that large yacht. You should definitely go straight down the face of the wave not at an angle. If you do go down at an angle you risk broaching. I have never flipped a Whaler but I have flipped a skiff doing just this.

It is very possible to stuff the bow of your 15 but you really have to try. In a power off situation it is nearly impossible to do it in a boat's wake. All the Whalers I have owned (13', 15', 17' and 18') tracked very well. The best was the 18 which acted like it was on rails. I tried to stuff the bow of that boat in heavy seas but was never able to.

Now as to the details, Chapman's is a fine reference and all but it does not tell you how to handle your 15' Whaler in the wake of a 70' yacht. Like so many skills, this particular one is learned by doing and it sounds like you have the hang of it.

When passing a large yacht in the situation you described I would recommend not making VHF contact as both you and the other skipper should have your hands on the wheel and be focused on what is happening and not going through any ceremony.

Skip the horn too and just drive the boat unless you have reason to believe the other skipper does not see you and may make some radical change of course just as you are trying to pass (and this seems unlikely if he is 70í long and transiting a narrow passage).

When passing give as much room as possible. 50í is not very much at all. The greater the distance, the greater the margin of error.

The waves generated by a boat are not a long single wave. They are short sections of waves that overlap with the rear end of one wave overlapping the forward end of the one behind it.

Itís important to understand this especially when crossing a wake at right angles to the course of the other boat. When crossing a large boatís wake I turn towards the boat and align my boat with the trough between the sections of waves. I can then drive through this trough and then resume my course thus avoiding going over any waves altogether.

When coming up on a boat from behind you need to turn so you are facing the waves head on and this turn angle will be less than that required to face the the V of the wake in itís entirety. If you are going faster than the vessel being overtaken then you will climb up the back of a wave and then surf down the other side. If you are playing it safe then you will power back a bit so you donít shoot down into the trough any faster than necessary.

It is also possible to get over the wake without going over a wave at all. To do this just approach one of the waves and climb the backside of it and throttle back to the point where you are just maintaining your position on the backside of the wave.

If you are truly at right angles to this section of wave you will find that the wave dissipates all together and you can then throttle up and run forward without much disturbance. What happens in this situation is that the wave you were riding moves sideways relative to your boat and you end up in the trough on the forward side of the next wave in line.

Highwater posted 07-01-2002 12:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    

Excellent recommendation! I wish I lived on the water as I would head out right now to experiment with your suggestion. But let me make sure that I understand it.

You are saying that if the channel is sufficiently wide, I can start several hundred feet away from the yacht, then climb on the back of the first of the waves in its wake, throttle back slightly to get in the trough behind the wave, then head towards the yacht. As I near the yacht, the other waves in the wake will disappear, and I can then turn parallel to the yacht's direction and increase speed without having to pass over any of the waves in its wake. Is that right?


DaveH posted 07-01-2002 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for DaveH  Send Email to DaveH     
Tom Clark:

I agree with your statements above. My reference to Chapman's Piloting is more for general knowledge than crossing a wake. If a person is unsure of procedures, I felt it important that he (and others) be advised of where to find the proper rules-of-the-road since he implied that he may not be as experienced.

My motives are simple(standing on soapbox). Born and raised on the water, I spent my youth working in marinas and during the summers, would operate one of the largest fuel docks on Long Island. I cannot describe to you the absolute buffoonery I witnessed (my favorite was the jerk navigating with a restaurant placemat).

Boating as you know, can be unsafe due to the lack of knowledge/experience/sobriety of the other operator. Due to the tremendous use of personal water craft (jetskis) the problem has increase substantially. How many new boaters seek the proper training after plunking down their money? Not many. That is why I am in full support of state's licensure for all marine operators, not that it will happen any time soon.

Although you cannot teach common sense (this comment is not directed at you, Highwater), I feel that even a modest understanding of Chapman's Piloting will hopefully create a better boater. Maybe they would even seek out a local "Power Squadron" course on boat handling in their area. The amount of money needed to attend such a course would surely be recouped from the inevitable repairs needed to fix one's boat. Man, do I feel better...(exit soapbox, stage right).

Whaler4me posted 07-01-2002 02:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler4me  Send Email to Whaler4me     
It is very possible to stuff the bow of Whaler, I have done it in my 19' Outrage in very confused water coming into Port Everglades inlet in FLA. Quite scary, because I had just thought it could never happen in a whaler.
Bigshot posted 07-01-2002 02:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Highwater....i was not pointing you out either. This kind of thing is very hard to describe. try explaing to someone how to ride a bike or water ski. Not possible without pics. I like to hit my waves head on....always. So when I come up on a 35+' boat I run up on him in the center and when I get close enough to read where the boat ports, I cut left and as soon as I get on top of that wave I usually pull the throttle back some and coast down the wave. maintaing the same speed can get squirley when the boat hits the trough because the wave is pushing you. If wife is not on the boat I will nail the throttle when about on top and catch some air. Speeking of which I got jiggy in the montauk yesterday off a 52 Viking. Had to get the prop 3+ out. Problem with 4 strokes is you can't tell when the prop comes out(I am off throttle by that time). She landed so sweet. Have to figure a nice way to lock that front hatch.

A guy in a 70' will not make any sudden moves....he can't so worry about what in front of you or him so you can pass safely. If he does decide to turn, you can out manuever him any day. They have EVERYONE and their dog doing the same thing every time he runs that thing so don't worry about notifying him....he's is aware of you and everyone else on the water.

Highwater posted 07-01-2002 03:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Thanks, Nick. When I was 21 I bought my first motorcycle and, having no experience on motorcycles, decided that the safest thing to do was to hire a motorcylce-riding police officer to give me a day's worth of instruction. I thought that he would be very conservative, like the typical drivers education class in a car. Instead, he got on my bike and started making turns so sharp that the footpegs touched the pavement. Then he showed me how acceleration, and drving aggressively, can actually--in some situations--keep you out of harm's way. We got on the Interstate 10 (in New Orleans) and then pulled over on the side of the road. He explained that to get safely back on the interstate in this situation you need to start hitting the throttle before the car you are going to pull in behind actually gets to you. It seemed like he made that Honda Goldwing go from zero to 70 in the time that it took me to say, "please don't let me die today." Then he expained that the worst thing I could do was to panic, that there was lots of time and space to react if I kept my wits about me. To illustrate, he showed me how--if need be--I could pass cars on the white line, going right between them. I never drove like that myself, but it made me a better rider to know that the bike's performance capabilities were not the weak link.

I imagine that it is much the same thing with handling a boat in heavy seas.

By the way, at the end of July I'll be taking my 15' into the Gulf of Mexico from Biloxi Mississippi to Breton Island, Louisiana, so I may get some first-hand experience in seamanship. It was not until people so thoughtfully contributed to this thread that I considered purchasing a sea anchor. Thanks!

Bigshot posted 07-01-2002 04:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I am still conservative on my bike. Last time I paniced I wound up on the median. With boats I have no fear because I know what they(and me) can do. There is however mechanical failure issues but fortuneately that has never happened. I treat my boats with a lot of respect but knowing what a Whaler can handle I do not think twice of getting air. In my Carolina Shitt I never even THOUGHT about jumping wakes.

You trip will do a couple of things....let you get comfy with your boat and how it performs under various conditions and....get comfy with your chiropractor:)

Tom W Clark posted 07-01-2002 11:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

No, that is not what I was saying.

It doesn't really matter where you cross the wake relative to the boat generating it (though the closer you are the more intense the waves will be).

What I was trying to say (and it's very hard to describe in words) is that you will climb on the back of one of these waves and your course will now be to the side if the wake generating boat's direction of travel.

If you hold this position which is perpendicular to the individual wave in question you will find that it will move to your right if you are trying to pass to port or the wave will move to the left if you are trying to pass to starboard. Eventually you will find yourself not on a wave at all but rather in front of the next one in line.

At this point you can proceed in front of the wake and then turn back on your original course and pass.

So many words. Just go out and try it. You'll see what I mean.

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