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Old 08-02-2021, 08:38 PM   #1
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Throwing a wake and those buzzing bass boats

My Nordic Tug throws a large wake when at full speed of 12-14 knots. Most of the time I travel at 8 knots or less and the wake is much smaller (as are the fuel bills!) but every once in awhile I need to get somewhere.


I am VERY careful about where I am when I open up the throttle. I make sure there no boats nearby, that I am far enough for shore for the wake to fully dissipate, etc. If I see another boat approaching, I drop my speed early until I leave little to no wake. It's not only the legal thing to do, it's just common courtesy as well.


We all know that many boaters ignore courtesy and constantly roll everyone else. I don't expect that to change much, unfortunately.


I have a different issue that I was wondering about the other day. I was making my way north through the lower reaches of Lake Champlain last week. I was cruising at relatively high speed and I appropriately slowed down when coming near anyone else.



There were a lot of bass boats blasting through the area at speeds over 50 mph. These boats plane so smoothly that their wake dissipates very quickly so they can run fast without causing damage (most of the time). Even if they zipped by me less than 20 feet away, their wakes did not bother me much.


However, any wake at all that I left affected them a great deal at those speeds. For the first ten or so boats that came through, I dutifully reduced my speed to no wake well before we passed but then I noticed the bass boats would hit my wake FAR behind me and go airborne. I seriously thought they were going to flip.


What seemed odd to me is that they made no attempt whatsoever to slow down, quarter the wave or just scoot around the wake entirely. Going airborne just din't seem to phase them.


The question then is what is our responsibility for other boaters who make no attempt at all to avoid potentially dangerous situations? I know that I am responsible for my wake but often I could not see the boats coming around a bend a long ways away. To entirely mitigate any effect of my wake, I would have had cruise at no wake speeds the entire day due to the POSSIBILITY that a bass boat might come screaming through. Their closely speed is such that they can hit a residual wake created by me far before it was possible for me to see them coming.


I reached the wide open section of the lake where wind driven waves overcame all wakes before I reached a conclusion on what to do other than cruise slowly all the time.


Interested in your thoughts.


(Jet skis were another issue - they clearly WANTED me to throw a large wake so they could play in it but I also wondered what my legal responsibility would be if they got hurt while intentionally playing in my wake)


Maybe I just need to boat midweek
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Old 08-02-2021, 08:45 PM   #2
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Most of the faster bass boats are a bit sketchy to run. Typically those guys have a hand on the throttle at all times, but many of them are pretty ballsy with how hard they push them.
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Old 08-02-2021, 08:51 PM   #3
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Wakes are a big pet peeve of mine. I whine a lot about it am many can attest. So first of all, kudos to you for being not only aware of your wake, but also that you give a damn.

Not sure of the size of your NT. My boat has a LWL of 38’. If I run the boat between 6.5-7 knots the wake is small enough that even the small fishing skiffs I pass aren’t bothered much. I try to give them plenty of room even so. I don’t bother to try and slow down to a no-wake speed about about 4 knots outside of no-wake zones.

If I crank the boat up to the max speed of about 12 knots, I dig a huge hole in the water and throw a massive wake. I just never go that fast. It is loud and expensive.

Depending on the size of your NT, I would imagine that your 8 knot cruise puts out quite a bit more wake than it would at 6.5-7 knots. So, in an area where you are concerned about your wake, rather than go to a very slow no-wake speed, you may see what happens if you drop it down around 7 kts. My guess is that the wake at that speed would be inconsequential to the boats around you as long as there is a reasonable amount of sea room.
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Old 08-02-2021, 08:58 PM   #4
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Well, it depends a bit.....
In a water way when most every boat is producing a wake I could argue to not slow down.



When a small boat shows up, decide what is appropriate.



Now, if a small boat is on the side, just anchored/fishing or hanging out, I could argue to slow.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:07 PM   #5
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In terms of going 7 knots, my NT 37 will cruise quietly and comfortably at that speed and I don't mind doing 7 or even slower nearly all the time and you are right that my wake is inconsequential beyond 50 feet or so at that speed. This weekend, I was racing sunset after being held at the locks. (I know all about schedules and boats but sometimes things happen)


I crawl along at absolutely no wake around guys who are stopped fishing in skiffs or paddlers. I want them to enjoy the day as much as I am and being rocked won't do that. Almost always get an appreciative wave.
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Old 08-02-2021, 10:23 PM   #6
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That's a good question: How does one anticipate future boaters who might appear suddenly and cross a wake you left five minutes ago? Obviously one could just go at no wake speed all the time, but that doesn't seem quite right either.

Do the 50+ mph boats bear any responsibility for how quickly they are moving -- such that they come upon a wake that you made before you even knew they existed? It seems like they should, somehow, but....
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Old 08-02-2021, 11:23 PM   #7
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Crazy boaters are on their own. ... My boat makes a minor wake at speed (six knots at cruise, seven at flank speed) but have been known to slow down for small open boats. Cruising speed:
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:12 AM   #8
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I don't worry too much about my wake if someone is passing me (in either direction) at two or three times my speed. If they slow down, I slow down. If not, they can deal with my wake. Or they can call me on the VHF and ask for a slow pass.

I once had a guy pass me at 45 knots (AIS).
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:21 AM   #9
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You are responsible for your wake, but at the same time, even bass and walleye fishermen must post a proper lookout I'm only personally aware of one civil case where a small boat traveling fast came to grief after crossing a larger boat's wake, and the large boat operator and captain were held harmless. This was on the inland waters of the United States.
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:31 AM   #10
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The rules governing the small boats includes using "prudent seamanship"...I doubt any court/board member would have a lot of sympathy for a boat driver doing 50mph overtaking another vessel likely producing even a generous wake without the proper sound signals or radio agreement.
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Old 08-03-2021, 11:07 AM   #11
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"What seemed odd to me is that they made no attempt whatsoever to slow down, quarter the wave or just scoot around the wake entirely. Going airborne just din't seem to phase them."

If the Bass boats were in tourney then covering ground and getting to spots first is of HUGE importance....getting air is small price to pay. More time traveling equals fewer casts.....
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Old 08-03-2021, 01:11 PM   #12
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tparrent,
I am no legal expert, and certainly not as it pertains to US law. However, it sounds to me that you are in the top 20% of all boaters when it comes to boat operation and concern for others (courtesy). You cannot anticipate when others may come along, you can only react to what you should reasonably see and/or know. You are not clairvoyant, nor can you be expected to be. The other boater, coming on to you at high speed (unexpectedly) bears some responsibility for how he/she responds to the encountered situation. To me, this is "common sense", and I don't see how the laws could violate that without mandating that everyone go at "no wake" speeds basically all the time???
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Old 08-03-2021, 01:44 PM   #13
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It's your responsibility to throw the nastiest possible wake around bass boats...particularly if they are participating in a fish killer tournament. I've caught these guys using bipolar glasses to scope out bass spawning nests in the marina the day before local tournaments. The come into the marina basin the next day and hook the mama fish that's guarding the nest, drive it to the weigh-in ten miles away and then turn it loose. The adult fish never gets back to the nest and the eggs and/or fry get decimated by predators. These "sportsmen" also hit the sides our hull with lures multiple times every year when casting/trolling for fish under our hull. Nasty people as a whole...nothing sportsmanlike about them. Any time you have a chance to wake/sink a bass boat in open water...do so...vigorously.

Mom and pop fishing at anchor are a wake free zone for me.
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Old 08-03-2021, 02:09 PM   #14
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Our boat can make a wake that would be ruled involuntary manslaughter under the wrong conditions,
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Old 08-03-2021, 02:54 PM   #15
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So my boat can go up one plane, can cruise to roughly 25 knots. I'm in a damned if you do, damned if you don't when it comes to making people happy.

As noted in the early comments, a boat on plane leaves a smaller wake than when plowing through the water at displacement speed. If I go past some boats, I know I'm going to be viewed as the monster on the water if I don't slow down. But if I slow down I'm pushing out a much larger wake. If boats are reasonably close to me, I slow down and watch them rock and roll. I know if I speeded up they'd be convinced I was a bad guy.
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Old 08-03-2021, 03:00 PM   #16
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So my boat can go up one plane, can cruise to roughly 25 knots. I'm in a damned if you do, damned if you don't when it comes to making people happy.

As noted in the early comments, a boat on plane leaves a smaller wake than when plowing through the water at displacement speed. If I go past some boats, I know I'm going to be viewed as the monster on the water if I don't slow down. But if I slow down I'm pushing out a much larger wake. If boats are reasonably close to me, I slow down and watch them rock and roll. I know if I speeded up they'd be convinced I was a bad guy.
I know that feeling. The 2 choices for me for a small wake are doing 6.5 kts or less, or doing 16+ on plane (and trim down a bit to flatten the wake more when passing). If someone isn't going 6 kts or less and I'd like to pass them, it'll have to be on plane.
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:06 PM   #17
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On a bass boat going 50, yanking the throttle back to idle will still travel a long way before dropping off plane. That said they see you coming and could choose to slow down in time. Either unaware, aware but don’t care, or are completely under control
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:25 PM   #18
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I've caught these guys using bipolar glasses to scope out bass spawning nests in the marina the day before local tournaments. The come into the marina basin the next day and hook the mama fish that's guarding the nest, drive it to the weigh-in ten miles away and then turn it loose. The adult fish never gets back to the nest and the eggs and/or fry get decimated by predators. These "sportsmen" also hit the sides our hull with lures multiple times every year when casting/trolling for fish under our hull. Nasty people as a whole...nothing sportsmanlike about them.
There is a special place in hades for people that fish over beds....and then to release far away from bed is not only cruel but hurts future populations so they are only hurting the local fisherman and women.
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Old 08-09-2021, 03:53 PM   #19
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I have a Grand Banks 42 and when over 10kts I put out a tidal wave. I know exactly what you are talking about. In my opinion I think you did your do diligence in slowing down for the boats to pass and if they are going so fast as to catch up with your previous big wake then that’s on them. If they decide to take a big wake at high speed then they are responsible for their actions……I always slow down for bass boats, pontoon boats, etc.
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Old 08-09-2021, 06:13 PM   #20
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I had a pleasant experience yesterday with a 50' anti-trawler. It was one of those overgrown ski boats that can kind of plane and throw out a huge wake. He came up 100 feet away at 15 knots (I'm zipping along at 6kt) throwing out a wake that could be surfed. Just as I'm deciding whether to turn away to give me time to stow everything aboard and warn passengers, he's about 100 yards ahead and momentarily slows to 9 knots. Wake disappears. I kept the same course on the AP, but went through the no-wake window that he created. He returned to hogging through the water. Probably increased his TOA by 15 seconds. I didn't know those guys ever looked off the stern. I called and thanked him.
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