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ContinuousWave: Whaler Performance
Day of Boating Dangerously
|Author||Topic: Day of Boating Dangerously|
posted 05-14-2000 12:22 AM ET (US)
All the warm weather we've had this spring in Michigan has caused the boating fever to hit a little early. Today, Saturday, we tried to get in a little cruise in some weather that we probably should not have been boating in.
By mid-morning it had warmed enough to make boating attractive, and the sun broke through the overcast. That was just enough encouragement and the Whaler 15 Sport was hitched up and we were on the way to Lake St. Clair.
It took about an hour to drive to the ramp at Algonac. The lot was practically empty--this should have been a clue to us. Low water is a concern, and this ramp has been affected. We had to raise the outboard and paddle our way across some 1.5 foot patches to reach the main channel of the river. This took about ten minutes to paddle into the wind!
Finally we got to deep water and started the engine up again. We headed off to windward, to the Southwest, going down the Middle Channel of the river delta. By hugging the bank and staying in the lee of the islands we were pretty sheltered from the increasing SW breeze, which was building up to 25 knots, gusting 30!
About five miles down, just cruising along at 3-4 mph enjoying the day, we explored a "highway" canal back into the marshes.
About 3 p.m., we decided it was time to head for the ramp. The return trip should be a breeze. We'd be going down wind all the way, but against the current.
When we pulled back into the Middle Channel, we were surprised to see how big and steep the waves had built. The breeze was really rolling up the channel, and it had built a train of big waves, steep and on top of each other as they fought against the current.
We ended up running with this big [4-6 ft] following sea all the way back to the ramp. "These are like OCEAN WAVES," said Chris, who has crossed over the gulfstream to bimini in some rough weather and seen a few big waves in her day. They were big and steep, each wave just 15-20 feet from the next one.
That little 15-foot Whaler was steady as a train on rails in that surf. We were having a ball, white water rolling through us, waves boiling up from behind us, and the Whaler tracking beautifully.
On the right bank I spotted an interesting Whaler at a dock and veered over for a look. In an instant we were out of the main channel and suddenly back in 1.5 feet of water again. I jumped to the transom and hauled the Merc out of the water [no electric tilt/trim].
We grabbed the paddles and stroked hard to get back into deep water, also noticing a pile of rocks and a marker stake suddenly in our path.
Back in the channel, the engine down, it fortunately started right up [I had been having a little problem with the floats sticking after being tilted up]. We went back to riding the waves.
A couple of waves had come aboard, I guess while we were preoccupied with raising the motor, so I reached back and yanked the plug out of the drain sump. In a matter of a minute the cockpit was drained.
The wild ride in the big following seas continued. Finally we got back to the ramp.
The big wind was pushing a lot of water up the river against the current, so we hoped that there might might be enough depth to motor in to the dock. We idled our way toward the launch ramp piers and fortunately found a patch of 2-foot water all the way in.
We tied the Whaler to the pier, but with waves coming right in to the ramp, the stern was getting pooped pretty frequently. The plug was still out, so we were in a sort of equilibrium with water coming-in/going-out via the drain as the boat surged up and down at the dock in the waves.
We got the Whaler back on the trailer, and the remaining water in the boat drained right out.
Looking back, it was kind of stupid to go out in those conditions in a 15-foot boat. Most of the other people we saw out--and there weren't many--were in much bigger boats and were generally pounding in the waves.
However, I couldn't stop smiling. We'd had some fun, done no damage, and I couldn't stop thinking "What other 15-foot boat would handle like this?"
posted 05-14-2000 10:06 AM ET (US)
Jim, an interesting story! The 15 is indeed a remarkable hull... I have bashed lots of big water with mine.. Trim and tilt would add another dimension (literally) also I carry a pushpole, about 12 feet long, and it's very handy for pushing in shallow water. When you jump to the bow and the stern raises up, the pole allows complete control.... and the 15 hull polls very easily... easier than the 13.. seems to maintain headway better... hope your lake water level gets on the rise... Happy Whalin'
Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
posted 05-14-2000 10:44 AM ET (US)
Poling would be a good idea. The only time we use the paddles is when the water is too shallow for the motor.
Poling would be more efficient, too.
Where do you get these poles?
posted 05-14-2000 12:39 PM ET (US)
I'm looking out into our backyard where two rowing shells are stored (another aspect of my life...rowing single shells on Black River up here in Port Huron) while reading your post, looking for a lightweight pole.
Carbon fiber sweep or single oars are used extensively in the sport. Concept Two is the main producer of these oars.
Check them at www.concept2.com
They may have "seconds" that for some reason didn't make it through the whole production process, any may part with one.
Best - Don
posted 05-14-2000 10:57 PM ET (US)
Jim: All of us sure are glad that you made it back to the ramp in "Continouswave"! Because we'd be lost without you and all of the great work you've done in putting this highly creative site together. I keep getting surprised at the new material & good conversation every time I log on for my daily Whaler "fix". Many thanks, and I'm sure I speak for all of us.
posted 05-15-2000 09:37 AM ET (US)
Jim, the push poles that the guides use around here (NE Florida) are very long, maybe 18 feet, and have a small tri-pod "crutch tip" at the working end.. these are expensive and not practical for small Whaler application.. I made mine from a 1 1/8" diameter aluminum pole from the swimming pool supply store... it is a handle for a pool brush! It's maybe 12' long although 10' would be long enough since it's used in shallow water! I fashioned a small paddle blade from some marine plastic (starboard) which is about 5"x 10" and secured it in a slot cut in the tubing... I cut a small hook shaped hole which can be used like a boat hook also... the handle end is finished off with a rubber crutch tip from the locall hardware store... this is a real tool and I use it ALL the time...
Happy Whalin... Clark ... Spruce Creek Navy
PS> I second Larry's comments... keep up the fantastic work....
posted 05-20-2000 12:42 AM ET (US)
Jim, Your story is the exact reason my family owns a Boston Whaler. They are safe, take a beating and get you back home in all conditions, planned and unplanned. This past weekend my family and I went down to a local marina on Lake Champlain in Vermont and saw a crowd of people watching the coast guard trying to refloat a non whaler center console. The owner pulled the drain plug in an attempt to drain the water in the bilge from a lot of rain. Unfortunately the drain hole was under the surface of the water level and he sank the boat. All that was visable was the center console grab rail. My son said " Dad, it sure isn't a Boston Whaler" and I said, "Your right". After about an hour and lots of ropes and pumps, they raised it. The motor will have to be serviced and the mans pride was tarnished. I third Larry's comments. Great job and keep up the good work. Kurt
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