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Old 03-18-2013, 09:55 AM   #21
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Because you have prop wash over the rudder too....while the steering is sluggish or non-existent....steering opposite isn't ALWAYS going to work either...

I'm not saying sometimes it doesn't work...just not all the time just because you are in following seas.

Plus current force on a ridder doesn't always push it in a guaranteed direction. Placement of the rudder in a stiff current at the dock will show you that...sometimes the boat will veer they way you want it...sometimes it doesn't....a large keel will have mure effect on boat movement than the tiny rudder(s). In a wild sea situation...the exact direction of flow event if you didn't have prop wash would vary greatly...that's why a drogue could be a better solution than not as it will keep the stern more where you want it.

If you are surfing down waves...you have forward velocity through the water and norml steering works.... or doesn't ...if you are starting to broach.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:03 AM   #22
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All boats do not have the same power and hull shapes. If you have 500hp and about 1200 ft/lbs of torque available per rudder and 2 rudders available as Moonstruck has you will do as much controlling with throttles as steering. A burst of power on the port engine with the wheel turned hard to starboard will kick the stern around pretty quickly, and vis-a-versa. With enough power to stay on the back of a wave by adjusting speed or get ahead of a curling sea behind takes constant adjustment.

Hull shapes also determine characteristics. The point is that your particular boat will have its own characteristics. Nothing will substitute for actual experience on the water.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:13 AM   #23
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Depending on where and how you boat...one of the greatest abilities you can develop as skipper is to know how to AVOID bad weather in the first place...it takes effort to learn how...but it's available to everyone if they so choose.

For those that run to places like Alaska or the maritmes of Canada.....well you definitely roll the dice more than most!!!! My hat's off to you and always...good luck!!!
In our small cruisers (22 and 26 feet) avoidance is our primary strategy. Cruising BC and SE Alaska, in addition to paying attention to what we can observe ourselves, we listen to the VHF weather forecasts and actual conditions multiple times each day. We consider what's going on, or forecast to happen, in other areas around us, not just where we are at the moment. To help keep this information straight, we make notes on a form we put together that has a place for each zone that's forecast - one for BC, and another for SE Alaska. We decide where we're going, or when or if, considering the weather. And we always have at least a couple of "bailout" anchorages along the way in mind.

We pay particular attention to the combination of winds and tidal currents, which can be quite substantial in the channels of the PNW. When non-trivial wind opposes even a fairly modest current, the waves get considerably taller, steeper, and closer together - "square waves". Even only 15 or 20 knots opposed to 1.5 or 2 knots of current can get fairly ugly.

This can happen much more than one might expect when rounding a headland, where the wind can easily double in speed as it pushes around past a tall point of land. Similarly, current can be much stronger in a place where there's a squeeze caused by flow through a shallower or narrower part of a channel. A fairly small area can be quite a patch of unpleasantly steep rough waves, even if they're only 4-6 feet. We learned through several unpleasant surprises to be on the lookout for such combinations, steer around them if we can, or wait until conditions change.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:38 AM   #24
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I boat in the Catalina Channel and it is said if you can survive this channel you can boat anywhere in the world. I've had seas so flat the water was like glass and I've been in a quartering sea with 16' seas and 4 to 5' breakers accompanied by 65 kt winds gusting to 75 kts. I learned to read the waves and the seas and to count the sets. They are never constant. Turning around can be the worse thing you can do especially if you get caught beam to and it broaches you.

I only turned around once and I counted sets and when I thought it was time, I counted again to be sure. I began the turn when I was on top of that last wave. I was counting for the longest time between waves. I got lucky and by the time I was turned around I was almost straight before I was picked up by the next wave. I ran the outboard engine WOT to help it turn faster. I have a twin screw.

Now always remember this. Read this over if you need to. Turning your boat in following seas requires reverse thinking. The reason is because the water that is rushing past your rudders is faster from the rear than your props can push. If you turn the wheel right, your boat will go left. This will make the average captain turn harder thinking he will correct that. Instead it will just push you sideways to the seas and possibly a broach.

Leaving in 21' seas I described above meant I had to watch the seas from the bridge and when a wave pushed my stern sideways I steered backwards and it turned back straight. This takes a while to learn but it is a life saver. I know the skippers that cross bars at inlets practice this too. This is where i learned it. From a professional skipper on the Columbia river inlet.

I think staying out of situations is best, but if you get caught and have no knowledge of how to handle your boat plus knowing how your boat responds to certain situations is a worse case scenario.

In my marina we have boaters go out and sail in storms to get the experience. We are in the Catalina Channel and things can come up quick. Be prepared.
Thanks for that explanation. Last Spring I was single hanging our 44' across Lake Michigan and got caught (poor planning and worthless forecast) in a situation where I had to make a course reversal in a big (for me) following sea. The Lake is known for close coupled, steep wave action. A rapid wind shift combined with local topography quickly changed the waves from the forecast 4' to 8-10' and breaking everywhere. I was tacking to keep things manageable, but eventually found the boat in a surfing scenario with engines almost at idle...and the bow was beginning to dig into the back side of the next wave. I needed a very fast turn rate to pull off the turn without getting caught in the trough....and didn't get what I expected. I initiated the turn to port with a large application of left rudder (apparently a mistake), and a burst of power on the outboard engine. While the boat did turn in the correct direction, it was scarey slow to respond. After reading your remarks, I believe the large power application probably overcame the incorrect initial rudder application. Anyway, the start of the turn was very sluggish, and the boat ended up with the bow only partially through the following trough...just beginning to swing up onto the next wave. Nastiest, scariest pitch/roll I've ever experienced. I was stuck on the flybridge holding on for dear life, and only discovered the chaos that resulted in the cabin when I finally made it into the breakwater. Biggest damage was a large flat screen TV that broke loose from it's mount and smashed itself to pieces. Until now I attributed the sluggish start of the turn to the full water tank in the lazerette and relatively heavy dink hanging off a stern davit....now, the rest of the storey. Thanks again.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:09 AM   #25
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If you are surfing down the face of a large wave with even just a little power on, and your bow starts swinging to starboard...if you turn the wheel to sterr to the right...good luck...if you don't broach I would be flabberghasted.

Remember I said surfing......not just having the stern lifted and the waves passing under you. Don't believe me...try it on the next big curling wake from a boat passing you close aboard befre you try it on a large breaking wave.

Also remember waves coming into an inlet against a strong current or shallow water are totally different in shape compared to a cresting open water wave. Boat handling in those conditions are often different as one the boat will surf as the other the wave often lifts you and passes you because it's not nearly was steep.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:09 AM   #26
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I understand the power as an advantage over the seas. I don't know if that is the best way however. When I was in that situation, and that was my fifth time with seas on my port stern quarter over 12', I had my hands full steering and thinking back, don't know if I could be also pushing two throttles at the same time I'm steering. Then there is hitting the bottom of the trough at speed. I tried not to do that.

I can only speak for GB hull designs here but our bow slices the waves and hitting the bottom of a trough at a fast clip will not end up with the same result as a normal powerboat shaped hull.

I saw a sportfisher in trouble just a few miles off Catalina. The seas were at that point over 12' and we had 45 kt winds steady with gusting. He decided to turn around and try to make it back to the Island, I think. When he turned he went straight up and then over a wave and submarined the next wave. That broke the bow pulpit off and he had an anchor that was now pounding his hull. He then turned around again placing his stern and cockpit to the seas while a crew member got out and crawled to the bow to get the anchor secured.

I was too busy to see what ever happened. I did listen to the VHF for an hour. One sailboat was pushed against the rocks and broke apart crew's safety unknown, three sail boats dis-masted, so many sails blown out I couldn't count and the may day's were non stop with the coast guard saying help your self, we're busy basically.

I think when you get into a situation like that, you have to have experience and stay calm. My crew, wife included, thought we were going to die. It's not a laughing matter and a trip I'll never forget. When I got to my marina I had 45 kt winds on my stern and my slip is at a 90 degree angle to that wind. There was no way I could get into my slip. I had to find an empty end tie and when I got against the dock, I couldn't keep the boat steady at idle with both engines in gear. I had to run them at 900 RPM to hold the boat so the crew could tie it off.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:17 AM   #27
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If you are surfing down the face of a large wave with even just a little power on, and your bow starts swinging to starboard...if you turn the wheel to sterr to the right...good luck...if you don't broach I would be flabberghasted.

Remember I said surfing......not just having the stern lifted and the waves passing under you. Don't believe me...try it on the next big curling wake from a boat passing you close aboard befre you try it on a large breaking wave.

Also remember waves coming into an inlet against a strong current or shallow water are totally different in shape compared to a cresting open water wave. Boat handling in those conditions are often different as one the boat will surf as the other the wave often lifts you and passes you because it's not nearly was steep.
I agree with that. When the boat first gets the wave rushing past you and lifting the boat's stern up, the water is rushing past your rudder from behind. Then when it has lifted the boat to the point where it surf's down the wave, that changes the direction of the water. I didn't make that clear. Thanks for pointing that out.

PSNEELD, Is your boat on a mooring in Avalon?
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:24 AM   #28
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I have listened to the Marine Weather forecasts and found them, for here in SoCal, to not be that accurate. What I do listen to is the buoy reports. Our weather comes from the North and West of us so the buoy's that are farther North and West will show the sea conditions at that time for that area. I can then see the pattern and if I see a build up of sea state and winds, I know I'm going to get it soon.

I have changed plans based on that information and it's been much more accurate than the forecast. It seems to go both ways too.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:59 AM   #29
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If you are surfing down the face of a large wave with even just a little power on, and your bow starts swinging to starboard...if you turn the wheel to sterr to the right...good luck...if you don't broach I would be flabberghasted.

Remember I said surfing......not just having the stern lifted and the waves passing under you. Don't believe me...try it on the next big curling wake from a boat passing you close aboard befre you try it on a large breaking wave.

Also remember waves coming into an inlet against a strong current or shallow water are totally different in shape compared to a cresting open water wave. Boat handling in those conditions are often different as one the boat will surf as the other the wave often lifts you and passes you because it's not nearly was steep.
For clarity, in the example I posted, I had slowed enough to allow the wave to pass under the keel just before initiating the turn on the back side of the wave...so the wave was moving faster than the boat when I put the rudder over. This was open water.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:17 PM   #30
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Skidgear, I've read a lot about the lakes and the fast frequency of the waves when they build. I bet that makes for a lot of white knuckle boating at times. Something that I have never experienced.

The seas here come from Japan, by way of Alaska in the summer and Australia in the winter so when they get here they are large and have the pattern in order. They look scary and sound extremely so but keeping a cool head and knowing your boat will keep you afloat. I also subscribe to the "wise sailor only sails down wind" theory as best I can.

What are the marinas like? Are they behind break walls and protected?
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:33 PM   #31
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I agree with that. When the boat first gets the wave rushing past you and lifting the boat's stern up, the water is rushing past your rudder from behind. Then when it has lifted the boat to the point where it surf's down the wave, that changes the direction of the water. I didn't make that clear. Thanks for pointing that out.

PSNEELD, Is your boat on a mooring in Avalon?
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:53 PM   #32
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In keeping with the Rough Water Seamanship part deux: How to subject, I'll write about another experience I had.

One Thanksgiving we spent at the Isthmus at Catalina we stayed for the weekend. There had been a storm predicted for that Saturday but it had stalled and that forecast was changed. That evening just before sunset the harbor patrol came to our boat and told us they expected Santa Ana winds and big seas to hit around 10;00 pm so tie slack in the mooring lines and put chafing gear around them.

Santa Ana winds blow off the mountains and across the channel to Catalina and build seas as they hit the Island. We were tied bow to the seas and were ready. Ten o'clock came and went and nothing happened so we went to bed. At 11:30 it was like a switch turned on. Huge seas hit the boat and winds above 50 kts. No build up, just BAM!!

I went out to check the lines and had to duck walk to the bow. The night was clear and the moon and stars were shining brightly so I could see most of the harbor. The waves were hitting the bow about 8 to 10 degrees to port so they weren't exactly head on but the bow shape of the GB which is almost plumb and a low fore front actually sliced the waves and our pitching was a lot less than other boats near us.

A sail boat behind us was wildly pitching with it's round hull design and he was tied too tight to his mooring. I yelled to him to let out some slack but he looked at me wide eyed and did nothing. Each lifting of his bow was resulting on his boat lifting the 20 ton block beneath him. To my starboard was a catamaran power boat used for sea tours and it was only tied to one mooring. It too was pitching wildly as it sat on top of the water.

As the night went on, I went through several rags I used for chafing and I watched a commercial dive boat, a 60' trawler, sink and break apart in front of us. It was on a coast guard mooring and there were nine commercial divers aboard. That boat, out of Redondo, was set up for hard hat diving and had a compressor installed below decks. Who ever installed it chose to put a hole in the bow and run a household clothes dryer hose from that hole to the compressor for fresh air.

Guess what happened to that hole when 12' seas started pounding the hull? I watched them stand in the cockpit with all the spreader lights on and they kept looking at the freeboard and watching it disappear. Soon the generator was under water and the lights went out. They stood there looking, walking around and talking in the cockpit. Finally it sunk and the lifeguard and harbor patrol boat came out and picked them out of the water.

I went aft and that sail boat was now in the third row behind my boat, captain was still wide eyed looking at me.

It was 3:30 now and the seas and wind were much bigger. The cat had cut the mooring line and the harbor patrol boats were tending to it trying to get it turned around and re tied.

I was thanking god that we had a GB and our bow was splitting the seas.

Finally at 1:00 Pm it slowed almost as fast as it started. I started the engines and told my wife to get to the bow. When they were warmed up I released my stern line and ran up to the bridge and we counted sets. I gave it forward power so she could drop the lines and we sliced through the mooring lines and balls and made it out without catching anything.

Our trip back was uneventful and when I got within a mile of the LA Light the seas were almost flat. We pulled into our slip and it was calm no wind. That was my first Santa Ana experience.

The dive boat spilled several hundred gallons of diesel, broke apart in hundreds of pieces and the flotsam was miles long. I'm amazed that out of nine commercial divers there was not one single person aboard, including the skipper, with common sense.

Weeks later I read in the LOG that they dove that site to salvage what thy could and they never found the engine from the boat. Amazing.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:55 PM   #33
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Skidgear, I've read a lot about the lakes and the fast frequency of the waves when they build. I bet that makes for a lot of white knuckle boating at times. Something that I have never experienced.

The seas here come from Japan, by way of Alaska in the summer and Australia in the winter so when they get here they are large and have the pattern in order. They look scary and sound extremely so but keeping a cool head and knowing your boat will keep you afloat. I also subscribe to the "wise sailor only sails down wind" theory as best I can.

What are the marinas like? Are they behind break walls and protected?
Yes, the short period can make things very nasty in very short order. Our OA has a nicely flared bow and it does very well in head seas. But the semi-displacement flat surfaces aft make it a biatch with following seas of more than 4-5 feet.

Yes. Virtually all of the harbors and marinas have breakwaters or sea walls. Our marina is on a small lake that accesses Lake michigan through a dredged east-west channel. Long jetties reach out into Lake Michigan...a fairly common configuration in towns that used to have railroad and car ferry service. Things stay fairly calm on the "little" lake unless the wind and waves are straight from the west. In that instance, waves off Lake Michigan roll straight down the channel and light up the little lake along with all of its marinas. A few years back a two day gale had four and five footers rolling through marinas. Lots of boat and dock damage. I recall a 55' Flemming with cleats ripped out and a big gash in the side from two days of endless heaving and slamming aginst the dock. Not a good time to be a live aboard. Boats at anchor in the middle of the lake ended up stuck in the mud at the eastern end.

Those marinas directly on the big Lake (not very many) have a sea wall...typically with a north or south entrance. Interesting maneuver if big waves are pounding in from the west. Big problem with silting, in those locations.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:58 PM   #34
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There are certainly times when having some extra power comes in handy. Following seas is one of them. Coming into inlets in particular. I avoid using the wheel and run the boat with the throttles to stay properly positioned on the waves, preferably the wave. Getting your speed right can make things a whole lot easier in following seas on the open ocean too. My big tub has a fat butt and can get moving uncomfortably in seas coming from the aft quarter, it is my wife's least favorite boat motion. Some artful tacking is needed at times too.

There have been several times when we were glad we could get out of the "trawling" mode and into leaving a big carbon footprint.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:03 PM   #35
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There are certainly times when having some extra power comes in handy.

There have been several times when we were glad we could get out of the "trawling" mode and into leaving a big carbon footprint.
Amen, brother!
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:06 PM   #36
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Standard practice if at anchor or at a mooring is to have your engne(s) on line and possibly in gear when severe conditions are forecast.

At least on the East Coast the USCG brodcasts the Captain of the Port order for all large ships at anchor/moored to bring main prop online. Granted their anchoring system is really different than small boats...but most of the boaters I know follow the same practice. The real problem for many rec boaters is keeping a cometent watch at the helm if something goes wrong and power would help.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:29 PM   #37
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Standard practice if at anchor or at a mooring is to have your engne(s) on line and possibly in gear when severe conditions are forecast.

At least on the East Coast the USCG brodcasts the Captain of the Port order for all large ships at anchor/moored to bring main prop online. Granted their anchoring system is really different than small boats...but most of the boaters I know follow the same practice. The real problem for many rec boaters is keeping a cometent watch at the helm if something goes wrong and power would help.

Good practice...if there's somebody on the boat.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:33 PM   #38
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Standard practice if at anchor or at a mooring is to have your engne(s) on line and possibly in gear when severe conditions are forecast.

At least on the East Coast the USCG brodcasts the Captain of the Port order for all large ships at anchor/moored to bring main prop online. Granted their anchoring system is really different than small boats...but most of the boaters I know follow the same practice. The real problem for many rec boaters is keeping a cometent watch at the helm if something goes wrong and power would help.
That's interesting. Are the moorings bow/stern? Here they are, they aren't a single hook up. here in Catalina there are two main harbors, Avalon and the Isthmus/Cat Harbor or commonly called two harbors. The moorings are different between them. Avalon puts the boats very close together and there is a float block under the water between the aft mooring and your boat. I'd say it's about 6 or 7' below but it's a large block of foam and that makes it move around. There is a break wall for Avalon also. I don't think having a boat in gear would work except in the worse conditions.

I have talked to skippers that have used their engines in gear during an event but I haven't heard our local coast guard advise doing it.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:20 PM   #39
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That's interesting. Are the moorings bow/stern? Here they are, they aren't a single hook up. here in Catalina there are two main harbors, Avalon and the Isthmus/Cat Harbor or commonly called two harbors. The moorings are different between them. Avalon puts the boats very close together and there is a float block under the water between the aft mooring and your boat. I'd say it's about 6 or 7' below but it's a large block of foam and that makes it move around. There is a break wall for Avalon also. I don't think having a boat in gear would work except in the worse conditions.

I have talked to skippers that have used their engines in gear during an event but I haven't heard our local coast guard advise doing it.
If you are tied to something and possibly going to exceed its limits or the connectors limits...your engine thrust could only help. If not...at least it's running and warmed up in case something lets go.

The Captain of the Port wouldn't issue an "anchorage" advisory/order to recreational and small commercial vessels...but it's meaning shouldn't fall short of our taking it under advisement.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:42 PM   #40
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Caltexflanc - We currently live in the PNW where rough water probably doesn't really enter into the equation unless one is crossing larger stretches of water. .
Not so, the pacific northwest has lots of very dangerous waters that can catch you off guard. Then the river bars and inlets, harbors, down to San Francisco bay are all pretty hairy except under certain conditions. Some are not recommended under any circumstances unless a matter of life or death. Humbolt bay, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Running-the-Bar.html, Newport Oregon, and this one of the smallest harbor on the coast of a coast garud vessel entering the bay demonstrates our sissey fied waters of Oregon. and this one of a party boat entering is realy an eye opener
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