A harsh, bumpy ride on a boat is never going to be an enjoyable experience. The boat can be furnished with the most luxury appointments, but if the ride is shaking the contents out of the cocktail glass in your hand, it’s just no fun at all. There is little chance of getting the patrons or the crew of your boat to smile if they’re getting bounced off the roof. Skippers often tend to forget that they have their feet planted fi rmly on the ground while holding and being braced by the wheel. Small to mid-sized boats are always going to be susceptible to movement during wave and swell action, that’s a given. So, are there methods to keep the patrons and crew on your boat happy by minimising the bumpy ride?
If your boat is listing and landing on the fl at panel of the hull instead of the V-shaped centerline, you might need to employ the use of trim tabs and shift the crew around to adjust the weight dispersion to maintain an even keel.
ANGLES CAN HELP
When you find yourself in closely spaced swells, hit the waves at an angle. By doing this it will stop the bow from hanging over the wave and then dropping the boat into the trough. Adjust your speed to the wave spacing until you can determine where the least erratic movement of the boat occurs. If none of these adjustments work, it might be necessary to zigzag your way home.
TRY TO KEEP DRY
Getting jarred around on the boat during rough seas is one thing, but getting soaked is another. When you apply negative trim, the bow will drop, cutting weaves more smoothly but increasing your chances of generating spray. Finding the happy medium for your boat is key to keeping dry.
BACK OFF THE THROTTLE
If you are in a head sea and want to maintain the highest average speed, simply back off the throttle as the boat crests the wave. This ensures that the boat slips into the trough rather than falls into it. Once this action is complete, get back on the throttle for the next swell. It can be draining for the captain to have to drive every wave, but if you’re trying to outrun a storm, get to the deep for a fi shing tournament, outrun fog, beat the impending darkness or get home quickly to pick up a tub of hazelnut ice cream from the local supermarket for your wife, this is a good method to reduce your trip time.
CALM THINGS DOWN
Utilising any of the techniques detailed above next time you fi nd yourself caught in big seas and high winds will certainly get you to your destination a lot more quickly and your comfort levels will be improved.
TOP TIPS FOR SMOOTHER AND SAFER RIDES
• Slow things down as the slower speeds allow for a safer ride.
• To avoid taking on water, make adjustments to the throttle when ascending and descending swells.
• When required, use the trim tabs with caution and attention, as too much down trim can drop the bow into oncoming swells.
• Always keep an eye on the satellite weather conditions and the radar to be able to avoid adverse conditions. It’s often easier to go around a storm than through it.
• Rather than taking waves head on, tack into them to minimise wave effect on the boat.
• Always try and find the most favourable conditions by altering your course when required.
• Avoid a beam sea or a dead-head sea as in these conditions it is impossible to make good headway.
• If you find yourself in unfavourable conditions, don’t panic, rather slow down, assess the situation and find the best method to proceed.