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what size of waves are safe?


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hello Al,

ty for the answer. i just wanted to know the experiences. i was out yesterday with a small mariah boat and got caught in a windy area (15+ knots) the sea was choppy and it was really a pita to get through. (i am new to coastal boating) since i plan to go with a signature i was curious if such a sea will also defeat a larger craft.

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In the ocean on a boat that size, my rule was that I would not go out into anything bigger than "3' to 5''". If its just an ocean swell and the crests are spread out, you can stand more than that. If the wind picks up and crests get closer together, then that becomes more of a problem. It seems to me that once the state of the water dictates the direction you must travel to maintain stability, then it's too rough to be there. I am sure that the boat can handle more than you can assuming competent handling but if you lost power in rough water and thus the ability to maneuver your boat to deal with big waves, then you are headed for real trouble.

I went out fishing once in a 22 footer. Seas were 4 to 6. SCW was in effect but I was stupid and went anyway. Stopped the boat to bring in large fish and we took a breaking wave right over the stern and had several feet of water in the boat until it could be pumped out and drained off. We went in right away.

BTW., got the fish, it was a large 25lb. Mahi Mahi. Great eating yes!, worth the risk...NO!

AL

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For the Admiral's comfort, I don't go out in anything over 2'.

I think the Sigs can safely handle 6' or more, depending on the Captain, size of the Sig, distance between waves, swells, wind, etc. but I don't want to try it.

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As mentioned above, the Signatures range in size, which will have a big impact on seaworthiness. Also, safety will have a lot to do with the frequency and type of chop you're hitting. If it's a rough storm and/or there are large waves or wakes coming from all different directions you could be in worse trouble than you would be in a steady, predictable chop of the same wave height. The worst case is a large wave from the side or stern that you didn't see coming that can flood the boat and cause it to founder. If the waves are breaking over the bow you need to be extremely careful and know what you're doing. If the waves are breaking over the sides or stern you're in very serious trouble. Most people shouldn't be out in seas that can break over the bow.

As for comfort in the waves, a good rule of thumb is a boat that is long enough to span three wave crests will feel smooth and safe because you are never really pounding into indivdual waves. Around the Gulf coast that means a 30' boat, roughly.

If you're new to coastal boating, or boating in general, strongly consider an advanced seamanship class (assuming you've had the regular safety class). It will cover boat handling in adverse situations. In the end, Captain's skill can have a much bigger impact on everyone's safety than the size of design of the boat. There are lots of videos out on the web of large seagoing boats capsizing and foundering in rough seas because the captain let it get out of control and/or got his boat into unsafe conditions.

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thanx for all the answers. i do not plan to go out in rough conditions just wanted to know if the boat is capable of handling the waves in case. i am at adriatic and travelling between islands is the main purpose of the boat, but the sea is frequently windy.

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I have a 260 and have been in 4' waves and it's not fun. I will only go out in 3' waves or under. Usually as the swells increase so does the wind, good luck docking when the wind is over 25 knots unless you are in a protected marina.

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in the adriatic, there are a _lot_ of marinas, so docking is no problem. the main problem is caused by crossing sea between islands. its about a 10-20 mile trip. even with minor (6-8 knots) wind there are waves which is really bumpy with a bowrider. this week we had 18-20 knots and 3-4' waves -> bad.

i am in the looking for a 280-290.

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Taking a bow rider in the ocean with waves that could potentially come over the bow is not safe. I have personally seen bow riders swamped by 3 foot waves. Go with a cruiser or something with an enclosed bow. Leave the bow riders to the lakes (minus the great lakes).

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El Coqui, I would normally agree with you, but the new 327 SSX can handle the waves a lot better than the "traditional" bow rider.

I hear you brother but it's the exeption to the rule and it still has a big hole on top of the bow. I've taken waves over the bow on my 330 and if it had been a 327 SSX I would have had many galons of water in the boat.

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+1 on pretty much all reply posts ( although I dont have a sig)......we went out sunday up through the pt pleasant canal into and out of the manasquan inlet ( for NJ boaters)...no wind but the swells were 4 to 6 ft......went out about half way to the buoy ( 1/2/mile) made a very wide turn and came right back in...the boat handled it just fine but it wasnt a pleasurable exp. ( no pun intended)...ppl in the bow looked up and only saw water when in between swells...really the only ppl going out , or I should say Staying out were hard-core fishermen or ppl with bigger boats....never checked the wave height cause it was more of a , hey were here, lets go out to the bouy ( 1 mile) and then turn around and come back in.....well made it halfway...never felt "unsafe" just a lttle bit "uncomfortable", and like i said the goal was to have a niece easy day on the water...Oh, BTW..handled the canal no problem what-so-ever and its like a wahing machine in there, lol.........Jim

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I've been out on 6' swells on my 310 but it wasn't for the fact that I rescued a sail boat, I wouldn't have stayed out too long. Turns out it took us 2 hours to tow the sail boat in.

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Seen,

As you probably already know, there are basically two types of hull designs: 1). Displacement hull. 2). Planing hull.

Certainly all Chaps are plaining hulls. This type of design provides for speed while riding on top of smooth water but they are not as stable as a displacement hull common to Keeled bottom boats like trawlers and monohull sailboats because while on a plane, they have a much higher center of gravity and of course will pound hard in a rough sea.

Thus most boats designed for ocean voyages use displacement hulls or a modified version of that. There is much more weight below the water line than above so while they may roll more in a cross sea because of their round bottoms, they are much harder to overturn. Because they can't get up on a plane, they must cut through the water more efficiently that a planing boat of comparable size.

With a displacement boat you give up speed for stability and ride comfort.

If I were travelling between islands all the time and was constantly exposed to rough conditions, I would not have a planing type of hull.

I would look at a trawler or similar type of boat that is designed to take on rough seas. It might take you 3 hours to get there instead of 1, but if the water is rough the trawler will more than likely out pace the Chap.

I'm sure that a lot of people will chime in on this post but I have experienced both many times and that would be my preference.

Al

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That's a good summary. There are also Ocean Class planing boats designed for big water. The downeast type of boats like this MJM example, or (civilian) pilot/patrol type of boats like this Nord Star example. They are stronger, stiffer, with much stronger rigging and designed from ground up as an ocean boat with zero defects.

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I have seen an interesting modifacation to a 24ft open bow boat. The owner made a bow cover out of fiberglass/gelcoat covered 3/8 plywood. He put a very spongy weather striping on the bottom to seal up the bow, and added criss cross straps to keep it down.

I thought this to very unique considering he only takes the boat out into the ocean (west coast) severa times a year. Totally cheaper than buying a different boat. Also had complete camper canvas covering from windshield to stern..

Any thoughts????

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hello all,

thanx for the sum-up. i was aware of the different design, but more like: fishing boats - speed boats. :) i know that a fishing boat is better in the rough see, but i would use mine about 50-50 cruising and crossing. also i like the chaps in general (design, quality of manufacture), would hate to loose those. as you have probably read i am aiming for the sig 280ish type of cruiser, but my recent sea experiences raised questions if the chap will be able to handle my crossing needs.

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