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Old 11-24-2022, 08:21 AM   #61
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What a wonderful thread this has turned into. Thank you all again for sharing your experiences and perspectives. It's been super helpful to put our experience into context.

@airstream, thanks for recognizing our good in the moment choices and providing concrete tips on next time. We'll use binoculars next time (had them but didn't think about it). We will consider reaching out via VHF next time - we had tuned it to 13 but didn't hear anything. I also think the zoomed out AIS to monitor CPA is a great tip - it could really help with planning. We could have crossed the channel further south, well before we even saw that ship and been pretty far away by the time it passed had we known what we know now.

Never thought much about subs or subs throwing a wake. Good to have on radar. Given we were in Poulsbo, we were near a 'no go' zone, it's good to have in our brain! Happy Thanksgiving, All!
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Old 11-24-2022, 08:24 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by soin2la View Post
Whales like to play in big ship wakes.
https://fb.watch/4t2Wfdy3pd/

https://fb.watch/4t2NGronf8/
Another reason to have the binoculars out!
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Old 11-25-2022, 02:03 PM   #63
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It's a long thread so someone may have mentioned this...
- If there's a choice, head for deeper water rather than shallower
- Be aware of the reflection of the wake off the land
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Old 11-25-2022, 02:56 PM   #64
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You did well, but there are a few additional take aways. Obviously watch your surroundings and if at all possible move to mitigate the wake as best you can. You did that. Then there’s what my uncle called “rigging for silent running”. Lockers latched, anything that can move put away or lashed down. You get the picture. If possible, never take a ships wake, or a lot of small boat wakes, on you beam. The wake of a tractor tug is steep short interval and usually pretty tall. That “bone in her teeth” is an indication of their speed, and it’s faster than you think. The worst is probably a submarine. The wake of them isn’t evident from the front, but even at a fair distance is downright nasty. The good news is they are escorted at a very low speed starting well west of Port Townsend, I think. Just be aware that they can look like a T from a distance.
Thankfully, you are safe.
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Old 11-25-2022, 03:26 PM   #65
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Welcome aboard!
It just takes some time (days) on board to learn what your and your boat's capability. Start with some smaller swells and work your way up (and down).
Don't be afraid of stopping ahead of the swell and pick your moment to cross.
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Old 11-25-2022, 05:39 PM   #66
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similar experience

We have a 42' Nordic Tug and had a similar experience going the other direction a few weeks ago. A large freighter was heading north in the traffic lane. We were also heading north, but stayed to the east of the shipping lane and went very slowly to allow the freighter to pass. We thought we had left enough space before turning west to cross the shipping lanes. We were also surprised by the magnitude of the freighter's starboard wake and had that same 'oh shit' moment dropping down in the trough. As we continued west, we caught up with the port wake and had a hard time shaking it. Lesson learned for us as well!
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Old 11-25-2022, 08:49 PM   #67
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In San Francisco estuary waters, ships don't go fast enough to make significant wakes.

Tug boats, ferries, and recreational boats often make significant wakes. I normally cut the throttle to idle and turn into significant wakes.
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Old 11-26-2022, 09:31 AM   #68
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On passage our rule was to not cross behind a VLCC, large container ship or cruise ship unless there was >2nm. Once you get something >1000’ going at their passage speed they create suction and wake. Often what you see as wake is misleading as to the impact it will have on your boat.
In coastal waters they are going slower but still can really disturb the surroundings. We don’t run in shipping channels. It’s deceptive how fast they’re going given they’re so large so you can’t trust your eyes. AIS/radar is better in this situation. Especially when they are the overtaking vessel. Rather than the channel we run parallel as far away as local depths allow. Before the wake strikes change orientation so your not struck on your beam. I’d rather go up and down than roll. Typically will slow down a bit as well. We don’t pass in front of a ship unless there’s a huge safety margin. So generally much prefer to just slow down and wait for them to go by. Depending upon how fast they’re going will wait additional time for the suction and wake to mostly clear.
We plan ahead. Things like going up the Delaware to get to the C&D. Will wait to cross whenever there’s no one around that will bother us. Then proceed up the C&D entrance side until we get there.
In NYC hug the Brooklyn side if going to LI sound or the NJ side if going to the Hudson. Find if you plan ahead you can stay away from shipping almost all the time.
Though not the same (the wake issue) we once passed too close to a large ship going the opposite way on the St. Lawrence River. We got sucked into its wake. We lost compltet control of the boat and were at the mercy of the dynamics of the turbulence, more than a bit frightening. I, the captain, had thought we were a safe passing distance away. Now I know to keep far away from these monsters, as far away as possible anyway.
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Old 11-26-2022, 11:58 AM   #69
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CJ totally agree it’s the suction effect you’re not prepared for. The wake you see but somehow (at least for me) you don’t fully appreciate the suction. On passage set our zone at 5m on both radar/AIS for one screen By time the time you appreciate CPA, time to closest approach and vectors to allow maximum separation 5m is the bare minimum We set the other screen as far out as we’re getting good returns. We treat these vessels as being on AP with no one at the helm. On the very rare occasions they’ve responded to a VHF call English wasn’t their first language so by the time a meaningful conversation has occurred the intercept is over. Stopped trying to call years ago.
Same coastal. Rather just get out of the way. Do listen to 9,13,16 but calling to ask “state intentions “ makes no sense to me. First the commercial guy is busy with other stuff. Second he’s usually confined by the situation so there’s little chance he can or will change course Third his intentions are usually pretty obvious if you stop and think for a moment. End of day if you don’t want to be waked stay out of the way of the big boys.
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Old 11-26-2022, 12:28 PM   #70
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All good advice, but a lot of people overestimate how narrow Puget Sound is. Often less than 1, 2 or 3 NM wide.
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Old 11-26-2022, 01:38 PM   #71
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BIG Wake

Biggest wake I've ever encountered was from a surfaced Trident submarine running at flank speed. At least 8 ft high. We were motoring in a Nonesuch 22 at the time. Took it bow on and what a ride!
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Old 11-26-2022, 03:28 PM   #72
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Submarines cannot do flank on the surface. 2/3 bell is typical.

But, YES, they do throw a big wake. Very noisy to be on the bridge on the surface with the turbulent water right under the sail.
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Old 11-26-2022, 04:41 PM   #73
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Last summer when transiting Grenville Channel northbound the Disney Wonder was quickly catching us. The channel was about 1/4 mile wide and 250’ deep when it finally passed us.

At 20 knots as compared to our 9 it was a heck of a ride from it’s 3 wakes. It took ten minutes or so for the channel to calm down from several 6 foot swells we took stern to.
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Old 11-26-2022, 07:33 PM   #74
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I’ve been boating Puget sound for more thirty years, and while now and then you get sub wake, in reality it’s pretty rare.
Shipping traffic, however, is busier than ever. And it seems like we might have a bigger class of freighter now. I don’t remember seeing the bigger ones 10 or 15 years ago.
I also remember as a kid on dads fishing boat in s.e. Alaska when we’d come across the state ferries in those narrow passages. No place to hide. No bow bulbs on the ferries back then. Green water over the bow more often than not.
You get used to it. It’s more annoying than scary.
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Old 11-26-2022, 08:07 PM   #75
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Thanks to all the additional feedback. Hearing about others' experiences and recommendations is particularly helpful. It's clear there is no single answer, but a range of strategies (distance, binoculars, positioning boat, awareness of tractor tugs, subs, and more, an extra chartplotter zoomed out, etc.) based on the particular context that can be really helpful. The next time we encounter a big ship and/or an unexpected wake we will be a lot more prepared thanks to all of your insights!
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Old 11-26-2022, 09:03 PM   #76
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It gets even more fun if you're put there in a fog bank.
Watching the water as the big green blob on radar goes past.
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Old 11-27-2022, 01:03 PM   #77
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It's kind of hard to not notice that a sub is passing by. If one did miss it, the little gun boats (not shown) would draw your attention to it. They always look more dangerous than the sub's wake. That's the Point No Point lighthouse right above the sub's rudder.
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Old 11-27-2022, 01:22 PM   #78
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It's kind of hard to not notice that a sub is passing by. If one did miss it, the little gun boats (not shown) would draw your attention to it. They always look more dangerous than the sub's wake. That's the Point No Point lighthouse right above the sub's rudder.
When I lived directly on the Puget Sound, surfaced subs would be see often and without escort.
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Old 11-27-2022, 01:38 PM   #79
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Submarines cannot do flank on the surface. 2/3 bell is typical.

But, YES, they do throw a big wake. Very noisy to be on the bridge on the surface with the turbulent water right under the sail.
Thank you for pointing that out. Yes the water was breaking at the foot of the sail.
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Old 11-27-2022, 04:09 PM   #80
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In the early 90's I worked on a cruise ship that was originally built for transatlantic travel in 1963, but just did Florida to Bahamas during my time on her. Her service speed was up to 30 mph, and her max speed was 35. At one point the company CEO was considering a marketing campaign showing her towing water skiers. She was such an amazing vessel and a huge part of my life.
Interesting story about the Oceanic, conceived in the late 1950s to (as you say) serve on the trans-Atlantic route. She was economically obsolete when launched, and reportedly was repurposed almost right away as a cruise ship. The big liners, Cunard's Queens, United States Lines' SS United States, withdrew from service by the end of that decade. The United States was reportedly capable of 37+ knots, or more than 40 mph - at a prodigious rate of fuel burn! The French Lines' stunningly beautiful SS France capable of 30+ knots, continued crossing the Atlantic until 1974, although her last years on that route were on a six-day schedule, in a doomed attempt to make the economics work.

According to maritime historians William Miller and Reuben Goosens, Oceanic's service speed was approx. 26 knots, and her maximum speed was 27.30 knots - just over 30 mph. Impressive for her day, and far faster than contemporary passenger cruise ships. According to Goosens, Oceanic was the brainchild of Aristotle Onassis.

Apologies for the thread drift here!
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