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

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About Kent Cannon

My passion is fishing and hunting as well as traveling throughout the Northwest and writing about those adventures. I was separated from my job a few years ago due to the still ongoing economic downturn. I had spent years working, focusing on things that really were not near and dear to my heart all the while scrambling and climbing to what I perceived as the top. I of course did not realize what I was doing, because I was caught up in the moment, focusing on what I thought was the American dream. Crashing and pushing ever forward like a Lemming headed for a cliff, oblivious the world around me. I was more than a little bitter over loosing my job; it was a good job as far as jobs go and I was making a lot of money so I could live according to the manner in which I wanted to be accustomed. In the process of trying to find another job in an unfavorable economic climate I found something that I had left behind many years ago. I found me! That is how and why I started this website, looking for myself and sharing things that I found along the way. Even though I am older now, suffering a little from arthritis and my hair is now somewhat graying I still have fire in my belly for the next adventure. The more that I seek out my next adventure, the more excited I become!

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