Rough Water Seamanship Part I: Boat Handling

Very often novice boaters head out on nice, calm sunny days only to find that conditions suddenly change.

One of our emails spoke of running down wind in up to six foot seas in a 30 foot cruiser and encountering the problem that the boat “for no overt reason would turn violently into the trough.” Clearly what the writer is describing is what is known as “broaching,” a condition in which a boat runs down the crest of wave, gathering speed, and as it meets the backside of the next wave ahead, buries its bow in that wave. The resistance of the bow hitting the back side of the wave causes the bow to slew around, and the boat to veer sharply off course. There’s nothing unusual about that.

We saw it coming but did not run . . .

Our sturdy Hatteras was built to take it, But I wouldn’t want to test this storm out In a Silverton. . . . .

Know your own and your boat’s limitations. Smashing into steep four footers in 50 kt winds at 26 kts. is no problem for this 39′ boat.

Whereas this 50 foot Motor Yacht has trouble with severe rolling in only three foot following seas.

Typically, the pilot loses control of the boat, passengers are thrown around, and this can even result in capsizing. The problem is not always the design of the boat, but is often a matter of operator error. That the writer did not use term “broaching” was also an indication of his lack of understanding. Instead, the term “tip over” was used, indicating the operator’s rather appalling lack of experience. The pilot here was completely unaware that he was operating the boat at too high a speed for the conditions.

Yet, it’s not merely a matter of speed, but one of the lack of general seamanship skills. He was unaware that running with high seas can be just as dangerous as heading into them. In fact, he seems to be unaware that taking a 30 foot boat out in 6 foot seas is, itself, a dangerous proposition.

via Rough Water Seamanship Part I: Boat Handling.

For Part 2 Click here

About Kent Cannon

Growing up in rural Central Oregon, I started fishing and hunting at an early age. My free time was spent Fishing the local Deschutes River as well as the high lakes of Central Oregon. As a teenager, I spent most of my free time back packing to various lakes within the Three Sisters Wilderness area. After graduating from high school, I spent the summer working on the railroad section gang at South Junction spending my free time targeting the trout and steelhead on the lower Deschutes.  In the early years, I worked as a carpenter and continued fishing and hunting in my spare time. Prior to entering into the outdoor industry, I worked full time as the Owner/CEO of Cannon's Design and Remodeling and later as the General Manager Dales Remodeling a national top 50 remodeling company located in the Willamette Valley where I now reside.  For the last nine years my primary fishing focus has been on Kokanee with side trips for chinook, Coho, Brown trout, Mackinaw, rainbow trout, Steelhead and tuna. I have fished all over the Northwest in pursuit of trophy fish. You might say I eat, drink, sleep and breath fishing and have spent a good part of that time teaching others how to pursue and catch many of these species.
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