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Old 07-06-2007, 08:00 PM   #1
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Default Wind, Choppy water, and boats less than 35feet

I ve been boating only for a short period of time. I have'nt been caught
out in bad weather or water yet, but I know eventually it coming. I was in a little bit of chop one day nothing major but it worried me a little. i tried to run with it on plane for a while but eventually had to back off. Does anyone here have any advice for newbies and sort of newbie to take with us when we finally do encounter that one two or even three foot chop.

I live near Woodbridge Va and get off into the potomac there. Does anybody know how bad the river can get between say DC and Tim's 2
any chop or rolls over two three feet?

If you have a story to share I would really love to hear it.
Please include boat size , single or twin motors and tactics , skill used.

one other question... How far can a sport cruiser rock port to starboard before real concern. even moderately that gives me the willies...lol
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Old 07-08-2007, 03:26 AM   #2
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Howdy!!....talk about a coincidence.....we just got back from a 9 day trip into canada....here in the pacnorwest...the water can change in a new york minute.....we left on the friday 9 days ago to get a jump on it....we drove by the water and it was do-able...but by the time we got to the boat...loaded it with the dogs...and our run down river to the puget sound..it got ugly....4 to 5 ftrs..wind waves...etc...I took water right over the bow...hooked the bow trying to turn around....got back to the everett marina and the winds blew till about 9pm that nite...so we hunkered down for the nite...we got underway the next morning to a calm ...flat ..smooth water all the way to canada...coming home today we ran into snotty water....fog....and 3 ftrs....for me..about the only thing I can suggest is to slow down....if it's just chop...then put your drive all the way down to force the bow down...if that's not enough...then drop the trim tabs to force the bow farther down......that will cause the boat to split the wave better and allow you to stay on plane but at a slower speed.....hope this helps...

:mrgreen:
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Old 07-08-2007, 03:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Wind, Choppy water, and boats less than 35feet

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbenton
I ve been boating only for a short period of time. I have'nt been caught
out in bad weather or water yet, but I know eventually it coming. I was in a little bit of chop one day nothing major but it worried me a little. i tried to run with it on plane for a while but eventually had to back off. Does anyone here have any advice for newbies and sort of newbie to take with us when we finally do encounter that one two or even three foot chop.

I live near Woodbridge Va and get off into the potomac there. Does anybody know how bad the river can get between say DC and Tim's 2
any chop or rolls over two three feet?

If you have a story to share I would really love to hear it.
Please include boat size , single or twin motors and tactics , skill used.

one other question... How far can a sport cruiser rock port to starboard before real concern. even moderately that gives me the willies...lol
I recently moved from Fredericksburg VA and we did our boating in the Potomac and Lake Anna. I never experienced anything worse on the Potomac than 3 footers, which is the limit for my little 18' bowrider.
Now we're down here in Tampa and putting into the Gulf. The chop is much different than on a lake or river. Yesterday we were in about two foot chop with a small swells. It was very 'doable' for us but it did keep me slow at around 30mph. I'm curious if tabs will help my little boat with the chop.
If you're in a sport cruiser you should have no problem with 3-5 chop. I have friends in center console fishing boats that go through 7 footers 20 miles off shore. They come back beat up, but they treat it like it's nothing. No thanks!
I do want a bigger boat though!
I always navigate into the chop with the wind or downwind depending on where I am heading. I try not to go parallel with it.
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Old 07-09-2007, 02:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Wind, Choppy water, and boats less than 35feet

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbenton
I ve been boating only for a short period of time. I have'nt been caught
out in bad weather or water yet, but I know eventually it coming. I was in a little bit of chop one day nothing major but it worried me a little. i tried to run with it on plane for a while but eventually had to back off. Does anyone here have any advice for newbies and sort of newbie to take with us when we finally do encounter that one two or even three foot chop.

I live near Woodbridge Va and get off into the potomac there. Does anybody know how bad the river can get between say DC and Tim's 2
any chop or rolls over two three feet?

If you have a story to share I would really love to hear it.
Please include boat size , single or twin motors and tactics , skill used.

one other question... How far can a sport cruiser rock port to starboard before real concern. even moderately that gives me the willies...lol
We have a 96 2700SCR in the water at Hope Springs (on Aquia Creek). We've been boating on the Potomac since 1988, first in a 19ft bowrider, then a 24' cruiser, and now the 28' cruiser. I've been in 3-4' chop/waves - had the anchor nearly ripped off, and taken water over the windshield on more than one occasion. Even had to outrun a severe thunderstorm into Capt'n Billies on one occasion. However, I've never been in fear of being swamped. I just slow down, try to keep the bow into the chop/swells and head to the nearest port if it starts coming over the windshield. We've been in some pretty rough port to starboard rocking also, but the best cure for that is to try to go into the wave direction, cross it at an angle and get to a dock.
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:20 PM   #5
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Did a helicopter photo shoot on Lake Michigan with my 2400 SCR yesterday. Wind was about 10-15 knots, 2-3ft waves. She held fine but on the way back to port the wind kicked up and there were 4-5's out there. That combined with the wakes of 50 other boats getting their pics taken really beat us around. Got tossed so hard one of our bimini mounts ripped out so I'll have to fix that.

Last year coming back from Chicago we got caught in some bad weather also. No so much waves but very very nasy swells. Had the bow of the boat under water coming up thru them a couple times.

All in all she handles it quite well, but there's not always safe harbor where we are on on the lake due to most if it being protected dunes and national lakeshore. Radar and weather reports can look great on your way out but it can get real nasty real fast on that lake. Sometimes you make it in time...sometimes you have to ride it out. I've had my share of both.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:20 PM   #6
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It's normally the wakes from all the other boaters that cause most of the rough water on the Potomac. Then are days like yesterday. Hot and no wind, but the water was flat as a pancake.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:20 PM   #7
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Sounds like some 'foul' weather can come up in those parts. 'Gordon Lightfoot' song comes to mind.

I prefer the 'Inland Waters' of the great Northwest (we can get into the 'nasties' but not often.

Sail safe.
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:16 PM   #8
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Default occoquan bay/ choppy water

I've been doing the Potomac for the past 4 years in and around you. The Occoquan bay is notoriously choppy. But, we have seen 3 footers on return from Tims's II on more than one occasion. Here's a couple tips.

First, IMHO tabs are a must for smaller boats. I hemmed and hawed for 3 years, when I finally broke down and installed Lenco's I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. In short you can chase an optimum with the trim but tabs really make the bow stay down and you cleve through choppy water, and it takes very little to do this. My boat is butt heavy and the tabs allow the back to come up out of the water at a lower speed. When it gets rough you want the bow down and a nice slow planing speed. Prior to tabs I could stay on plane at 22mph after the tabs the speed was down to 18. It has been a great addition.

Another tip is to get behind a bigger cruiser headed your direction and let him smooth the water for you. It takes some practice to find the best spot, but on more than one occasion I've let a bigger boat guide me back to the Occoquan.

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Old 07-10-2007, 09:29 PM   #9
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Default Wind, rough choppy water and cuisers

Here is a decent article about the subject


Wind alone is very rarely a problem for even small powerboats, but waves can build very quickly when pushed by powerful winds. Once the seas begin to grow, it's time to give up your race to reach safe harbor and settle down to a slower speed. Yes, I know you want to reach shore but a reasonable speed will allow you to better control your boat.

If you're heading directly into the wind (and therefore the seas), you'll be going up and over each wave, and then dropping into the trough. Adjust your speed so you aren't going too fast, either at the crest of the wave (you want to rotate over the top gently) or in the trough (too much speed will bury the bow in the oncoming wave). It's a good idea to keep your hand on the throttle at all times and keep adjusting the speed to each individual wave.

As the waves grow larger or steeper, the motion from going directly up and over the waves will be uncomfortable, and quartering the waves will be more satisfactory. This means steering so that your boat meets the waves at an angle rather than perpendicular to them.

If your course takes you in the same direction as the waves (called "running before the seas"), it's important to maintain enough speed to stay ahead of the crests, particularly those that are breaking occasionally. A powerboat's square stern puts it at a disadvantage when running before large waves, since a sea can push the boat forward and cause a loss of control, so the forward face of the wave is a danger zone.

One important difference between inboard boats and both stern drive and outboard-powered craft must be understood. The rudder on an inboard boat is more effective at controlling the boat on the downward face of a wave, because the underwater drive "legs" of an outboard or stern drive need to have propeller thrust for good control. As an outboard or sterndrive boat accelerates down a wave, the propeller thrust (relative to the passing water) is reduced and steering becomes less efficient. You may need to increase the throttle setting to regain control but this can be tricky, since you'll be going too fast at the bottom of the wave. If at all possible, simply stay off the downward face of the wave.

The ideal position for a small powerboat is on the back side of the wave ahead, with the skipper adjusting the boat's speed to stay with the waves. Going too slowly will let the sea behind you catch up, while going too fast will push you over the crest of the sea ahead and you'll again be in the danger zone.

If you need to steer parallel to the waves, you'll have an uncomfortable and generally unsafe ride since you'll be rolling wildly with each wave. Even if the seas are not big enough to be dangerous, you'll find this a very wet course from the spray. A better plan is to zigzag toward your destination, quartering into the waves for a while and then running with them so that your boat rides easily.

Safe harbors are often behind an open inlet, where the tide and harbor shallows can cause abnormally large waves to start breaking in the entrance. This surf can be dangerous, particularly in storm conditions and, though you are literally within sight of a safe harbor, this is no time to rush ahead.

If you aren't familiar with the inlet, watch other boats pass through the waves. Study the wave pattern, since there are often four or five large waves followed by a smaller one, which is what you want for your entrance. If you have any qualms about the entrance, call the Coast Guard on your VHF and inquire about the conditions and their recommendations. In many inlets, they may come out and lead you in.

Check the balance of your boat and move your crew to keep the boat either level or slightly bow up. Pick your wave carefully and start your entrance at the middle of the channel to allow as much distance as possible from the breakwaters on each side. Be prepared to steer quickly and use your throttles to keep the boat lined up with the channel.

Watch the waves both ahead and behind you since, once again, the safest place is on the back side of an incoming wave. If you have a fast powerboat, you may be able to ride the crest safely, but this is for the experts.

If conditions are so bad or the distance is too great that you can't reach harbor, you'll need to endure the storm until it ebbs. Reduce your speed to the minimum needed to maintain good steering control, which is usually just above idle. Each boat responds differently but, generally speaking, you'll want to steer into the waves rather than run with them. If the waves are too steep for comfort, a quartering course will reduce the tendency to drop into the troughs. Keep the bilge dry, listen to your VHF radio for both weather information and for other boats that may be in trouble, and practice your patience. It's not fun and it's not comfortable, but your boat will bring you safely home if you give it a chance.

Heavy weather seamanship is a combination of preparation and common sense and, with a little luck, you'll never have to use it.
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:37 PM   #10
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Good post jim....about 12 days ago we left our port here in Everett heading for the canadian gulf islands for 9 days....left work early ..ran home and got the kids and took off for the boat..we had it already in the water waiting for us...so it was load the dogs...food...go....as we drove by the water it was ripply but not bad.....still passable....by the time we got loaded and under way the winds kicked up to 4-6 ftrs at the mouth of the breakwater.....had water over the bow and buried the bow a few times...tried to turn around and head back to the marina and a wave caught me on my stbd side and hooked the bow....dropped me off plane and dead in the water...engine screaming....finally got her turned and headed back....this came up within a half hr or so.....amazing...out here you really have to watch the weather and reports in order to be safe.....comes up quick...
thanks for your post!!...
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