Originally Posted by windmill29130
Just looked at the charts because I'll be coming through there in a couple weeks. Definitely looks like it could get sloppy out there at the point. The alternate route looks good and doesn't look to be too far out of the way. As stated numerous times on this forum, it pays to not be in a hurry and better safe than sorry.
And if in doubt, access some local information. Boats coming from the other direction. Stop at a marina near the trouble zone and talk to people. Talk to one of the tow boats as they are a source of great information plus the ones to come get you if trouble arises. Then if doubt persists, just don't.
I guess at this point they need to start over. Either by doing the boating correctly or something else. Maybe an RV is their answer. Maybe a cruise ship.
We have years of lake experience, but we took captains classes and hired a captain to train us hands on actually before we even purchased our first boat in Florida. We feel very confident now but we've had excellent teaching and gained experience. Still we will have someone with local knowledge for Alaska. And we recognize our captain still has decades more experience than we do. Now it depends on the boat and the trip whether we'll take it out by ourselves or with captain. But we've put many many hours into developing our skills. WE are presently only 50 Ton Inland Masters. We will reach 50 Ton Near Coastal this summer and 100 Ton Near Coastal around the end of the year. But it's not for the tickets, it's for the knowledge and experience and confidence.
Someone asked what is bad conditions and that varies to everyone. We prefer to do most of our distances outside. I'd say when we first started, bought our first coastal boat, we probably considered anything over 4' to be rough especially with a short period. Now we just don't consider it as enjoyable and it does depend on the boat. In a 44' open sports boat, 6' with 8 seconds isn't dangerous to us but it's just not fun. In a 130' then 6-8' with a 10 second period isn't frightening or scary. Still we will often wait for the next day. But it's not because of fear or skills, just pleasure. Those conditions are ok for a couple of hours, but eight to ten hours like that get tiring and we just don't need to get anywhere that fast. We have friends who don't go outside when it's more than 2'. They just stick to the ICW.
But in spite of all that, the inlets at the wrong time can be uncomfortable and challenging. One has to not get lulled into a comfort. Cruising nicely along think you have it made and forget that you're about to hit a very different area that may have winds and current at odds with each other. That's where practice and experience are so essential. Our captains teaching us never said "I'll take it through here." They always said, "Ok, now I'm going to tell you how to approach and handle this." I remember our first day in the Gulf of Mexico when things got rough, 6-8', and we were close enough to pull into land. But we needed training. So, that's the day we were taught hands on how to handle it from all directions. Our first experience at surfing larger waves. Timing the boat speed to the waves. Learning how things felt at different speeds. We were exhausted but we learned what the boat could handle and what we could. Now if we were considering going out in those same conditions we'd probably stay put but if we were caught out in them, we know we can handle it.
Now many of you have learned over many years. But our first coastal boating was toward the end of 2012 so we're trying to compact and speed our education. From May to September of this year we'll be covering around 7500 nautical miles, 550 or so engine hours, about 70 days of actual movement. Almost like immersion in a language but we covered around 18,000 miles in 2013 in total. Oh but we sure don't put many miles on our cars....lol.