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Old 03-28-2016, 11:07 AM
jtulius jtulius is offline
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Default How to drive in big water

I have done a lot of research on several different kind of boats here on WC. Everyone has been really helpful. The same comment seems to come up often. Essentially; "If you know how to drive in big water/waves then the boat will be fine".

I knew a professional Walleye angler that died on big water when his 21 foot Triton capsized. He was a very experienced angler. It just goes to show that it can happen to anyone in any kind of boat.

I have no intention of going out in the huge waves I see some of the professional walleye anglers go out in, however, I would like to know how to safely navigate if I get caught in a storm.

Can anyone share some advice on how to handle big water? Nothing is too basic, just trying to really have some ideas of how to get back to shore safely.

Thanks.

Last edited by jtulius; 03-28-2016 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:44 AM
repoman repoman is offline
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When I am headed into the wind I trim my motor up a bit to raise my bow a bit to cut the water over the bow. Pick a speed that will not pile the bow into the next wave.

If I have to travel perpendicular to the wind I point my bow into the wind and then adjust slightly towards the direction I want to go but keep the main brunt of the waves at the bow. I then slow the speed so the wind sort of tacks/pushes me in the right direction (sailing term).

If I am wrong, please some one correct me.
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:39 PM
REW REW is online now
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JT,
A common reason for boats sinking is to either spear a wave - where the bow gets buried in a wave, or you pitch pole ,where water floods the boat from the stern.

So, if you are running in waves that are several times taller than your boat, you do not want to drive directly into or away from the waves. Either of these cases could easily swamp a boat.

Rather, you want to quarter the wave. So, if you are going into a wave , you do not point the nose of the boat into the wave, but rather you hit the wave at about 45 degrees. So you go 1/2 sideways up the front side of the waves, and then slide down the back side of the wave 1/2 sideways as well. This means that the boat will be doing huge rocking from side to side as you negotiate each wave - but you will be doing the driving through the waves safely without swamping the boat.

Some folks suggest that the motor be trimmed down so that the bow cuts the waves. That may be all right to a point, but if you have the nose trimmed down and then encounter a much larger rogue wave, the entire boat will get buried in the wave and you will sink.

I would rather trim up the boat so that the front 1/3rd of the boat takes the wave, splits the wave and deflects water to each side of the boat, - rather than having the wave come over your head.

I know that there have been more than one time when I was faced with huge waves for a run back to the cabin. In these cases, I figure that I take about double the distance to get back to the cabin. This is because I will hit the waves at about 45 degrees and stay on that course for about a mile or so. Then, I will make a cut back and come back at about 45 degrees for the next tack against the waves. This continues until one encounters waves that may be driven head on. Then, the course can straighten out and the boat driven straight back.

http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/heavy2.htm

http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/waves.htm

http://www.docksidereports.com/rough...amanship_1.htm

http://www.unitedmarine.net/blog/ind...in-rough-seas/

http://www.boatus.com/magazine/trail...vy-weather.asp
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  #4  
Old 03-28-2016, 04:38 PM
cmdworker cmdworker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REW View Post
JT,
A common reason for boats sinking is to either spear a wave - where the bow gets buried in a wave, or you pitch pole ,where water floods the boat from the stern.

So, if you are running in waves that are several times taller than your boat, you do not want to drive directly into or away from the waves. Either of these cases could easily swamp a boat.

Rather, you want to quarter the wave. So, if you are going into a wave , you do not point the nose of the boat into the wave, but rather you hit the wave at about 45 degrees. So you go 1/2 sideways up the front side of the waves, and then slide down the back side of the wave 1/2 sideways as well. This means that the boat will be doing huge rocking from side to side as you negotiate each wave - but you will be doing the driving through the waves safely without swamping the boat.

Some folks suggest that the motor be trimmed down so that the bow cuts the waves. That may be all right to a point, but if you have the nose trimmed down and then encounter a much larger rogue wave, the entire boat will get buried in the wave and you will sink.

I would rather trim up the boat so that the front 1/3rd of the boat takes the wave, splits the wave and deflects water to each side of the boat, - rather than having the wave come over your head.

I know that there have been more than one time when I was faced with huge waves for a run back to the cabin. In these cases, I figure that I take about double the distance to get back to the cabin. This is because I will hit the waves at about 45 degrees and stay on that course for about a mile or so. Then, I will make a cut back and come back at about 45 degrees for the next tack against the waves. This continues until one encounters waves that may be driven head on. Then, the course can straighten out and the boat driven straight back.

http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/heavy2.htm

http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/waves.htm

http://www.docksidereports.com/rough...amanship_1.htm

http://www.unitedmarine.net/blog/ind...in-rough-seas/

http://www.boatus.com/magazine/trail...vy-weather.asp
That last link is a good one REW
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:39 PM
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Juls Juls is offline
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First of all, do not hide behind a windshield if you have one. Get up above it where you can "read the waves".

Keep your hand on the throttle at all times, and USE IT! That means, you will be on and off the throttle continuously..."driving the boat" through the waves.

If you simply "pick a speed", you're going to get into trouble, because not all the waves are going to be the same. Now, throw in a boat wake that turns that wave action into a "washing machine". If you're not reading the waves, and using the throttle for what it was designed to do, then you will get into trouble.

In following seas...keep the motor trimmed down, and "surf the waves"....power up the back side....slow down on top, so you can surf it, and let the wave set you down on the wave in front of you. If you run a following sea too fast, you run into the danger of putting the bow of the boat into the backside of a big wave, filling the boat with water from the front...and, then, the waves coming in behind you will fill your boat full of water from the back....then, you're in trouble....big time. Patience is the key to running in a following sea.

It takes practice, but it's not hard to do. Just keep your eyes on the waves and your hand on the throttle. That will give you the smoothest ride possible.
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Last edited by Juls; 03-28-2016 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:59 PM
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Blackmacs Blackmacs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juls View Post
First of all, do not hide behind a windshield if you have one. Get up above it where you can "read the waves".

Keep your hand on the throttle at all times, and USE IT! That means, you will be on and off the throttle continuously..."driving the boat" through the waves.

If you simply "pick a speed", you're going to get into trouble, because not all the waves are going to be the same. Now, throw in a boat wake that turns that wave action into a "washing machine". If you're not reading the waves, and using the throttle for what it was designed to do, then you will get into trouble.

In following seas...keep the motor trimmed down, and "surf the waves"....power up the back side....slow down on top, so you can surf it, and let the wave set you down on the wave in front of you. If you run a following sea too fast, you run into the danger of putting the bow of the boat into the backside of a big wave, filling the boat with water from the front...and, then, the waves coming in behind you will fill your boat full of water from the back....then, you're in trouble....big time. Patience is the key to running in a following sea.

It takes practice, but it's not hard to do. Just keep your eyes on the waves and your hand on the throttle. That will give you the smoothest ride possible.
X2

Juls mentioned about picking up speed, you really need to keep aware of it. Some set ups make this more of an issue than others. You can be plowing through the waves one second and the next be on full plane skipping across, or going through, the waves. When I switched to a 4 blade prop it really helped to control the boat in rougher water compared to the 3 blade.

Wave Wackers or an equivalent, can help with keeping following waves from swamping you, especially in aluminum boats with flat transoms. In following seas the last thing you'd want to do is slow down abruptly. That's a sure way to, at a minimum, fill your splash well. Worse case is ending up testing your PFD's.
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Old 03-28-2016, 01:36 PM
azbohunter azbohunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juls View Post
First of all, do not hide behind a windshield if you have one. Get up above it where you can "read the waves".

Keep your hand on the throttle at all times, and USE IT! That means, you will be on and off the throttle continuously..."driving the boat" through the waves.

If you simply "pick a speed", you're going to get into trouble, because not all the waves are going to be the same. Now, throw in a boat wake that turns that wave action into a "washing machine". If you're not reading the waves, and using the throttle for what it was designed to do, then you will get into trouble.

In following seas...keep the motor trimmed down, and "surf the waves"....power up the back side....slow down on top, so you can surf it, and let the wave set you down on the wave in front of you. If you run a following sea too fast, you run into the danger of putting the bow of the boat into the backside of a big wave, filling the boat with water from the front...and, then, the waves coming in behind you will fill your boat full of water from the back....then, you're in trouble....big time. Patience is the key to running in a following sea.

It takes practice, but it's not hard to do. Just keep your eyes on the waves and your hand on the throttle. That will give you the smoothest ride possible.
What she said!
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Old 03-28-2016, 03:52 PM
MN1965 MN1965 is offline
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I would add: Quarter the waves in the general direction you need to go, but also head toward the calm shore as quickly as possible. Obviously, that may not be viable on the Great Lakes, but most inland lakes allow you to do so. Cutting the fetch in half can make a huge difference in wave size. I'd rather go twice the distance in calmer water than straight across the worst of it.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:17 PM
SLE SLE is online now
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Maybe I'm different that some; I've spent my entire life boating and fishing and connected with the water and until recently in smaller 14-17' boats. Of course to my benefit, I've navigated generally the same bodies of water my entire life here in Nodak country. It's definitely not the Great Lakes but both Devils Lake and Sakakawea can make a grown man pucker on a given day (I'll let others divulge which can be nastier, ha ha). Now granted, over the past 10-years, I've been fortunate to own very capable 18.5'-20' boats compared to I what grew up with and learning to drive those smaller vessels probably provided a great deal of background and respect for ol' mother nature. What I've found over the past several years, on those days that I start to get a little stressed about the drive back and concerned about safety of myself and others aboard; in every case, upon making it back to the bay, it's never been as bad as I typically prepared for or expected. In most cases the capability of my boat and some of my own always seem to exceed my expectations. Maybe that bit of self-doubt and respect for mother nature is probably good in those circumstances. What I find intriguing, again in every case, the passengers are far less worried, stressed, and concerned than I.

To me, boating in rough water is all about knowing your own ability and your boats capability. Knowing, admitting, and having a little humbleness will likely keep most people out of those bad situations to start with and when you end up with the lake gods staring you in the face, you'll be best prepared to know what you need and are capable of navigating, be it to find cover, traverse the water, etc.

The last time I faced a nasty ride back, I had 4-5 miles of open water to cover with a perpendicular 35 mph sustain wind and 10 miles of open water for it to build. I had been fishing way up in a bay not realizing what the wind had been doing all morning. We buttoned up the boat, secured everything we could, and made our way across. We worked the trough, running between 13-18 mph, and using the throttle like I was playing a video game. Once back in the bay, I looked to the back of the boat to see can of Coke can sitting in the rear deck pedestal mount like it was cup holder. Not a drop spilled and perched there like we just set it down. Forgot I set there when buttoning up the boat on the other side of the lake. I guess the ride back really wasn't all that bad, lol.

Last edited by SLE; 03-28-2016 at 05:20 PM.
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  #10  
Old 03-31-2016, 10:41 AM
CraigM CraigM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azbohunter View Post
What she said!
Great advice . This may be preaching to the choir as most folks here already know what I am going to say next. but ..... there is no sense in underpowering a boat, max it out, setting it up with a jackplate and a 4 blade prop will help you to run like the wind when you have to get out of dodge ahead of bad weather . This allows you to use all of the power you have to steer your way out of harms way as previously described so well by Juls . For 60 years I have encounter my share of bad situations , common sense ( do not go or go home when threatening weather is apparent ) and a well set up and maintained maxed out boat has saved my butt many a time when I was surprised by a bad turn in the weather .
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