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.