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Hatem

NIGHTMARE WAVES!!!

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Hey fella's

Iggy warned me to be really careful with a bowrider on the ocean, getting caught up in an unanticipated storm, and for the most part I was very careful after he told me this. Warning, this post is long.

I checked in on the forum yesterday as I was still mentally recovering from the nightmare that was Saturday, when I logged onto one of the threads someone started about what size Chaparral to get for Lake Michigan. I read through the first 2 pages and IIRC, most recommended a boat bigger than 22ft. Then there were a few testimonials of scary experiences with waves which made me feel right at home since the day before, I went through my first horrifying experience with GIGANTIC waves.

Problem was, we were pretty excited to get out since this was going to be the first time to have kids on the boat, the Admiral's 11 year-old nephew and his twin sister and their father. Six of us on board and I checked the weather that morning and either I misheard or the weather reported was wicked wrong because once we got there, launched and got out of the harbor, we noticed we were getting some pretty good bopping. I decided to throw the anchor and chill a bit, have some munchies and shoot the breeze when that same breeze was throwing us around like a rag doll. I knew something wasn't right since the only boat visible was a sailboat about 3 miles out and nothing else but us! I told everyone to get seated, brace up because we gotta get outta here and at least make it back to the harbor and I warned them it was going to be a little bumpy. I knew something wasn't right and the weather was changing rapidly. No sooner than we pulled anchor and put it in throttle my ultimate fear became reality. We got clobbered!

We must've hit 6-8 footers and maybe even higher at least 7 times, hard to tell because it was so nightmarish I felt I was on survival mode. The 276ssx was airborne at least 2 of those times that I can remember because we hit the water on the way back down and that's when I remembered what Iggy had said it's possible for the bow to get under and being a bowrider, easily overwhelmed. That's probably the worst thing that could happen and my anxiety went through the roof.

I tried getting on plane to see if we could at least ride the top of the waves but there was no way, of course! That was MUCH worst and probably the reason we were airborne those 2 times. I had to reduce throttle to about 8-10mph, sometimes cranking it up and sometimes slowing it down just to cope with the conditions of the waves and to make headway. I didn't know whether to go parallel with the waves or confront them directly while at the same time head in the direction I'm supposed to.

Found myself going out to sea on several occasions just to avoid rocky islands and to make it around one of the two peninsulas in the way so those instances I was going directly into the waves which was BRUTAL! For the most part, our direction back to the harbor put us at a 45 degree angle to the incoming waves anyway which seemed to be the least painful of all directions. 45 minutes felt like 45 hours of horrifying, nightmarish painstaking and fearing for our lives moments.

I started thinking about survival modes incase we went overboard or flipped. Put the radio around my neck and cell phone in pocket. Kept giving people instructions left and right but one thing I noticed that the Admiral pointed out later was that even though she could see the fear in my face and eyes, she said if it wasn't for my constant messages of warning for waves and reassurances and comforting everyone that we'll eventually get out of it, things would've been a lot more stressful for everyone, especially the kids. I didn't notice I was doing that and it had that impact so I was happy about that, at least. I'll admit it easily, I was freaked out scared out of my mind.

Much of the fear was of course due to my inexperience. Had I been through that once before I most likely would've been less frightened, but it was still bad enough to have made a lasting impact. It didn't help that the skies were turning grey at the time too.

The pounding of the water on the hull and from the landings was tremendous! I thought of the Kevlar enforced hull (lol seriously) and how that was actually a bit reassuring, believe it or not! I kept thinking about the Volvo Penta and hoping it wouldn't give out, or the stern drive to keep cranking that duo prop and please don't break! Any other time you can crap out just not now and between the motor and the outdrive and that fabulous boat, that Chaparral 276ssx was a champion! Finally got the harbor and the water was much calmer and sun came right out. Some residual wind that made our docking one of the toughest but still, it was a relief to be back to safety.

Was the 45 degree cut through the waves the best thing to do? I figured for sure not to go parallel with the waves since I could see us getting rolled over that way, for sure. Going directly into the waves was just too aggressive in my opinion. What about speed? I'm thinking slow enough to make headway yet enough not to get shoved around by the waves like we did? Perhaps there's some other secret trick. I'm sure many of you have experienced something like this. Please share so we can all learn.

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How big will your next ocean / bay boat be ? :)

Something with a cabin, Cyclo, for sure. As cool as bowriders are, they're not necessarily ocean-style boats and limit your traveling distance.

Most of the floor drains, if not all, drain directly overboard so the question becomes how much water can the bow and cockpit take before getting overwhelmed? I'm thinking it's much safer with a cuddy/cabin that has a covered front to just push most of the water right off.

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Was the 45 degree cut through the waves the best thing to do? I figured for sure not to go parallel with the waves since I could see us getting rolled over that way, for sure. Going directly into the waves was just too aggressive in my opinion. What about speed? I'm thinking slow enough to make headway yet enough not to get shoved around by the waves like we did? Perhaps there's some other secret trick. I'm sure many of you have experienced something like this. Please share so we can all learn.

Its call "Quartering" taking big waves at an angle. Your more like a sailboat zig-zagging. I give a little gas to get up the wave then ease off a little while you going down the other side. Speed is what ever makes you and you guests comfortable.

You did a Great job of keeping your wits and keeping everybody calm, Captain. :clapsmiley:

.

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Same thing happened to these boaters in FL. Notice the front passengers are wet.

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You need to take a boating course about the limits any size & type of hull can take on. NO dealerships !!

& always check several sources for crappy weather reports. I do T V radars. www.wundeground.com & the marine vhf weather channels.

If it is a possible blower coming ? Cruise upwind & return down much faster.

DO NOT EVER let the bow slide sideways !! It can roll you over or beat the driver & passengers so bad that they fall down or out of the boat. Been on one of those rides. There is only dumb luck left at that point.

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Wow I could not imagine 7-8 footers. Sounds like you did it right. 45 degrees or quartering seems to be the least brutal for taking big waves. Does you boat nose up high right before it planes out. Mine does and I found that keeping it at that speed right before plane kept the boat in water and breaking waves. I am not sure what it would do in the seas you were in. In the 5 foots I was in it kept us high enough that barely any water was breaking over the bow. We got sprayed a lot but did not get bounced around to bad.

I did quite a bit of reading about piloting open water before my trip to the Great Lakes. Also I had the VHF on , and was constantly checking the phone for the weather radar. In my case we did not have a storm, the winds just started gusting up to 18 mph out of the north west, and that was enough to make the water angry

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All is well what ends well! Check this one as the beginners luck but please be better prepared the next time. A few comments ...

The wall of water looks very intimidating when a boat slides from wave's crest into through, and you are looking down and there is nothing but water above. In reality what you are seeing is the diagonal surface of wave which is around 50% longer than the actual wave's height ... regardless, it's the warning sign that needs not to be ignored.

Study the weather and the forecast shortly before the trip, double check at the last moment before and during the trip. Have an app on your smart phone or tablet to do this. The RadarUS or MyRadar apps are good ones. I never leave for any longer cruise without downloading the latest GRIB model and studying it. GRIB is the mother of all mariner weather forecasts based on collection of various weather data sets ... I would not bet against it. There is a PocketGRIB app that allows you to download, study, and take with you the most recent GRIB weather model for your area. The radar apps supplement GRIB models with local weather events.

Read about and study boat handling in general, and in stormy weather. There are "common sense" techniques of boat handling in rough sea that some of which you just discovered, and specialized techniques to be used during storm, or after engine failure, or when going gets tough and you just need to wait it out. You need to know when and how to position the hull, how to tack, how to ride the waves (speedup up the wave, slowdown down the wave ... reverse in extreme cases, etc).

Do not run when it is too late. If you can outrun the weather do it ... if not, slow down. Slow and steady wins the game.

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Its call "Quartering" taking big waves at an angle. Your more like a sailboat zig-zagging. I give a little gas to get up the wave then ease off a little while you going down the other side. Speed is what ever makes you and you guests comfortable.

You did a Great job of keeping your wits and keeping everybody calm, Captain. :clapsmiley:

Nice to learn a new term, quartering. Interesting, some of the things in life that you kind of luck-out on just based on common sense, life experiences in other fields that are somewhat interchangeable and trial & error just like this - ending up doing what is SOP without knowing it. I even mentioned in the first post the throttle speed changes just like you said because that just seemed like the instinctive thing to do. The top of the waves were an absolute fright, knowing what was to follow and the two times I didn't reduce throttle, we went for a really good flight and the open bow took A LOT of water. Admiral said she felt her feet were in a stream of water, but thankfully it would drain out pretty quickly. Imagine a rookie, only his 6th time out going airborne in a 29ft boat with 6 people in it including 2 11 year-olds!? Not a pleasant, learning experience but to hear we did a few things right is very encouraging. Thanks, Matt.

Same thing happened to these boaters in FL. Notice the front passengers are wet.

That's what it looked like when we were anchored before things went south rapidly. The bottom must've been sandy smooth because in the few minutes we thought we were attempting to stay still, anchor was not holding at all and we drifted towards shore by a good margin. That was another thing that made me decide to get going.

You need to take a boating course about the limits any size & type of hull can take on. NO dealerships !!

& always check several sources for crappy weather reports. I do T V radars. www.wundeground.com & the marine vhf weather channels.

If it is a possible blower coming ? Cruise upwind & return down much faster.

DO NOT EVER let the bow slide sideways !! It can roll you over or beat the driver & passengers so bad that they fall down or out of the boat. Been on one of those rides. There is only dumb luck left at that point.

Right off the bat I figured sideways was a death trap, Cyclo. I think most people would've picked up on that.

I signed up months ago for the USCG seamanship course with my son. It starts September 10th. I was hoping to take it before we bought the boat to be more prepared but it didn't work out that way, unfortunately. Hopefully it'll have some advice regarding boating techniques in severe conditions. Definitely need to learn survival procedures once overboard. I think that's a whole other course on its own.

I've been taking the weather forecast pretty seriously and checking the seas every time we think of going out and that's why we've only been out 6 times since July 1st. There's been many a weekend and even weekdays where we had the availability to take her out but didn't because it was just a bit too windy. So we have been doing diligence. Even when we trailered the boat all the way to Cape Cod for vacation. I didn't push the issue and never put the boat in the water the entire time because even though the weather was absolutely perfect, the tide revealed the craziest looking sandbars I have ever seen. Those things scare the living daylights out of me and she never saw the water the whole week we were down there. So I try to be as careful as possible but here in New England there's a saying (I think it's pretty common in many places, actually) - "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes" and this was a perfect example. Despite the water being a little unsettled, this was actually a squall or front of some sorts that passed and pushed through and we just happened to get caught in it. Once we reached the harbor the clouds dissipated a bit, sun came out and the winds calmed down quite a bit. I'm guessing the harbor is also calmer just be virtue of being a bit enclosed from the open ocean.

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On Saturday I went from Scituate to P-town. A 26 mile run in open water, so Hatem and I were about 30 to 35 miles apart that day. I too checked the marine weather ( NO you did not miss anything!), winds were 5 to 10 with gust up to 20, seas 1 to 2 foot waves. Well the report in it self was fine, BUT I am convinced that the wind & the current just reinforce of the waves. If was rough out there!!! I could not get on plane with out slamming and pounding into the waves. So for 3/4s of the trip I did 8 to 10 MPH.

The waves were more like 2 to 3 feet, but when they hit, the waves were over the bow. At times it hit the windshield and the top of the arch. These waves had force behind them that you just would not believe. Now you have experience, no doubt about that. Sooo when are you installing that extra pump???

Being in a bowrider, it MUST have been something else!! My boat is bigger and taller and I was not happy at all, scared no, as long as I went slow. Now all is safe, you made it back and you learned something. Being out on the ocean is a new whole world as you found out.

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Wow I could not imagine 7-8 footers. Sounds like you did it right. 45 degrees or quartering seems to be the least brutal for taking big waves. Does you boat nose up high right before it planes out. Mine does and I found that keeping it at that speed right before plane kept the boat in water and breaking waves. I am not sure what it would do in the seas you were in. In the 5 foots I was in it kept us high enough that barely any water was breaking over the bow. We got sprayed a lot but did not get bounced around to bad.

Dave, the bow looked like it was pointed to the sky for the first few waves when I still hadn't picked up the throttle. That put me in a major panic mode. The slam coming off of those was indescribable. I was worried about the hull cracking or splitting in half I had never experience anything close to this before, only videos. So yes, it went up, and then bang!

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On, "Definitely need to learn survival procedures once overboard." Make up a "ditch bag" and that USCG class will teach you, what you need to put in it for the type of boating you do. As in flares, PFDs, maybe a PLB, whistle, compass....................

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Huh, that does not sound good. I made a bad assumption, I guess that this is a strategy for most boats. I imagine bow design and weight plays a big factor. I know I was pulling almost 2500 Rpm an barely braking the 8 mph mark. I am a gear head and for what ever reason having that motor laboring behind me made me feel settled. Weird I know.

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All is well what ends well! Check this one as the beginners luck but please be better prepared the next time. A few comments ...

By being better prepared, do you mean not go out of the harbor or any great distances or something else? I knew it was a bit windy and weather said seas 1-3ft and those are actually very manageable, been in them and it wasn't too bad. This was almost a freak thing that caught us by surprise, I think?

The wall of water looks very intimidating when a boat slides from wave's crest into through, and you are looking down and there is nothing but water above. In reality what you are seeing is the diagonal surface of wave which is around 50% longer than the actual wave's height ... regardless, it's the warning sign that needs not to be ignored.

That's very interesting, Richard. So is it possible that they weren't as high as I thought because of that deception?

Study the weather and the forecast shortly before the trip, double check at the last moment before and during the trip. Have an app on your smart phone or tablet to do this. The RadarUS or MyRadar apps are good ones. I never leave for any longer cruise without downloading the latest GRIB model and studying it. GRIB is the mother of all mariner weather forecasts based on collection of various weather data sets ... I would not bet against it. There is a PocketGRIB app that allows you to download, study, and take with you the most recent GRIB weather model for your area. The radar apps supplement GRIB models with local weather events.

Read about and study boat handling in general, and in stormy weather. There are "common sense" techniques of boat handling in rough sea that some of which you just discovered, and specialized techniques to be used during storm, or after engine failure, or when going gets tough and you just need to wait it out. You need to know when and how to position the hull, how to tack, how to ride the waves (speedup up the wave, slowdown down the wave ... reverse in extreme cases, etc).

Do not run when it is too late. If you can outrun the weather do it ... if not, slow down. Slow and steady wins the game.

Good stuff. Something that warns you of impending doom so you can get the heck outta there or not even go there in the first place.

Aside from reading the weather and recognizing the dangers, the other part of boat handling is crucial, for sure. Wonder if there are courses that teach this specific stuff? I'm sure there is.

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HG, glad you came out of this okay. Without a doubt, weather has been the scariest thing I've had to deal with to date. We don't get those kinds of waves, but we can get some very wicked t-storms and squall lines on hot summer days that are concentrated on a relatively small footprint but are absolutely brutal. Most of the time they can be outrun or maneuvered around but occasionally it's several miles across and you're just screwed.

Glad you discovered quartering - I had mentioned that on one of my earlier posts this summer about handling head seas and rough water... it's basically tacking for powerboats and it can be a good technique to smooth out the ride. Your Admiral put her finger on the most important thing - regardless of what you think or know to be your skill level, as the skipper of the boat you are usually the most expert person aboard and more in tune with what is going on than your passengers and crew. Communication is key to keeping everybody calm - helping them anticipate a big wave or warning them when you are heaving over a roller is the single best thing you can do. Hopefully everyone including you were outfitted with life jackets and you had the killswitch lanyard attached to you because that sounded pretty intense.

Did you get your Navionics tablet rigged up yet? That is one situation where the chartplotter can really come in handy to avoid those shoaly areas and you can see depth figures on the chart so you can subtract the wave heights and determine what course you'll be safe from bottoming out.

Well handled, captain... :beer-7687-1:

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Only got caught on the Chesapeake once in 44 years. 30' Sea Ray Sundancer, and step one was throwing wife and daughter a life vest. Throttled every wave until I could get up river. Visibility was zero and we lost a trawler from the next marina. 44' low power bathtub looking thing with a very elaborate teak interior. She rolled, and the owner and his wife had to kick out the windscreen to escape. The Mrs. took in a mouth full of diesel fuel when they broke the surface, and was messed up for a week or two. The boat sank in 35' of water and sat at the mouth of the Sassafras River for 2 years. It even had it's own obstruction marker. Weather report was for a perfect day until 30 minutes into the storm. W

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On Saturday I went from Scituate to P-town. A 26 mile run in open water, so Hatem and I were about 30 to 35 miles apart that day. I too checked the marine weather ( NO you did not miss anything!), winds were 5 to 10 with gust up to 20, seas 1 to 2 foot waves. Well the report in it self was fine, BUT I am convinced that the wind & the current just reinforce of the waves. If was rough out there!!! I could not get on plane with out slamming and pounding into the waves. So for 3/4s of the trip I did 8 to 10 MPH.

The waves were more like 2 to 3 feet, but when they hit, the waves were over the bow. At times it hit the windshield and the top of the arch. These waves had force behind them that you just would not believe. Now you have experience, no doubt about that. Sooo when are you installing that extra pump???

Being in a bowrider, it MUST have been something else!! My boat is bigger and taller and I was not happy at all, scared no, as long as I went slow. Now all is safe, you made it back and you learned something. Being out on the ocean is a new whole world as you found out.

You did warn me, Ig. Gotta hand it to you! :) Wow, that was crazy and it's still in our minds 3 days later. I didn't even think of looking at the RPM's I was just concentrating and these huge walls of water coming at us.

You know the other interesting part is the one floor drain right next to the co-captain seat or opposite the helm/captain seat where the Admiral was sitting, it has a very short distance to travel to the exit, drain hole which is almost right below and outside of that particular drain and when she told me later that her feet were in about an inch or so of water, I looked and figured it out that because of the proximity of the exit hole to the drain hole, the water was actually coming in from there also!

BTW, once we got to the harbor and were able to settle down a bit and gather our wits, I opened the engine hatch to look and see if there was anything wrong and much to my surprise, there was hardly any water in the bilge! That was one of the few gratifying moments.

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Only got caught on the Chesapeake once in 44 years. 30' Sea Ray Sundancer, and step one was throwing wife and daughter a life vest. Throttled every wave until I could get up river. Visibility was zero and we lost a trawler from the next marina. 44' low power bathtub looking thing with a very elaborate teak interior. She rolled, and the owner and his wife had to kick out the windscreen to escape. The Mrs. took in a mouth full of diesel fuel when they broke the surface, and was messed up for a week or two. The boat sank in 35' of water and sat at the mouth of the Sassafras River for 2 years. It even had it's own obstruction marker. Weather report was for a perfect day until 30 minutes into the storm. W

Holly Mackerel! Tremendous story.

Life vest passed out immediately is excellent advice! I realized later I was so consumed by what was happening that I didn't think of passing out life vests. The kids had theirs on but I'm glad you mentioned that very important step. Gonna have to make that an instinct.

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"because of the proximity of the exit hole to the drain hole, the water was actually coming in from there also!" Install a check valve or a flapper.

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1. By being better prepared, do you mean not go out of the harbor or any great distances or something else? I knew it was a bit windy and weather said seas 1-3ft and those are actually very manageable, been in them and it wasn't too bad. This was almost a freak thing that caught us by surprise, I think?

2. That's very interesting, Richard. So is it possible that they weren't as high as I thought because of that deception?

3. Good stuff. Something that warns you of impending doom so you can get the heck outta there or not even go there in the first place. Aside from reading the weather and recognizing the dangers, the other part of boat handling is crucial, for sure. Wonder if there are courses that teach this specific stuff? I'm sure there is.

1. I meant, reading the weather forecast before to stay put, and reading the real weather around you while out there to get the heck out of there before it gets seriously uncomfortable. If the wind is strong, could be as low as 10+ knots for your boat and your boating area, and blows from the right direction, the waves will build up ... no matter what the wave forecast says as it all depends on where you are in relation to wind and shore/land, and what the bottom profile is near where you are. It can be a beautiful sunny day, but when the wind blows ... be careful out there.

2. Possible, but it really does not matter if they were 8 or 5 feet high ... either might be not safe depending on the boat and skills.

3. I think most of rough sea handling skills comes from knowledge honed by experience. There is literature, courses, and videos (real life cases) on the subject ... good and necessary starting point. Visualization and simulation in lieu of the real conditions is the next best thing to being a crew on a boat in real life.

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Hatem

You have been very fortunate to get into a " How to boat in dangerous waves. " Class

Many people have to wait years to take the same course.

Glad you had the good sense to quickly figure out what was better.

Only difference with a 186 in stuff like that is I increase power to keep some forward speed while climbing the backside of each wave. Then after tipping over the peak & heading down I shift into idle speed in foward 1/2 way down. Then shift to forward power increase, to climb up the next wave. It prevents the forward motion of a wave from pushing the bow to either side.

Scarry stuff when riding up & down the waves. It is a true " Seat of the pants " driving style.

I still think about every 7th wave is taller & stronger. I adjust the power sequence for the biggy.

Extremely tiring to do.

Worst case to me is having the windspeed be faster & stronger to overpower the boat & be forced to actually be moving backwards away from shore.

Still have to keep the bow into the waves & wait until I can regain forward travel towards land.

Next time I will do a MAYDAY MAYDAY to alert USCG I am in deep trouble & at the limit of handling the boat.

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I too got caught a couple of weeks ago. Wind blew so hard it ripped my Bimini, and waves were between 5-6 feet with blowing rain that reduced visability to about 10 feet. If I'd been in an open bow, I definately would have sank the boat.

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Well stated Duane.

That is why open waters & sudden squalls require a fully enclosed hard cabin with rear doors on the self bailing decks. A cruiser.

Great REAL RISK topic to discuss & set up survival of the people. Boats are replaceable.

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Its call "Quartering" taking big waves at an angle. Your more like a sailboat zig-zagging. I give a little gas to get up the wave then ease off a little while you going down the other side. Speed is what ever makes you and you guests comfortable.

You did a Great job of keeping your wits and keeping everybody calm, Captain. :clapsmiley:

.

+1 life's little lessons ;). I'll bet when you say its time to go next time no one will object. And you don't have to call MAYDAY to the USCG unless necessary, but you can call in and let them know your situation and position and projected route. They can, and will monitor you until safe. As long as your making headway and crew is safe ( might be bouncing a bit and not happy) keep making progress any way you can. Radio monitoring and good communication skills are a must. In those conditions all crew must listen and do what's asked by the captain...no questions asked. Not a time for a Democracy.

On the positive side you now know what type of seas that your boat can handle.

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HG, glad you came out of this okay. Without a doubt, weather has been the scariest thing I've had to deal with to date. We don't get those kinds of waves, but we can get some very wicked t-storms and squall lines on hot summer days that are concentrated on a relatively small footprint but are absolutely brutal. Most of the time they can be outrun or maneuvered around but occasionally it's several miles across and you're just screwed.

Glad you discovered quartering - I had mentioned that on one of my earlier posts this summer about handling head seas and rough water... it's basically tacking for powerboats and it can be a good technique to smooth out the ride. Your Admiral put her finger on the most important thing - regardless of what you think or know to be your skill level, as the skipper of the boat you are usually the most expert person aboard and more in tune with what is going on than your passengers and crew. Communication is key to keeping everybody calm - helping them anticipate a big wave or warning them when you are heaving over a roller is the single best thing you can do. Hopefully everyone including you were outfitted with life jackets and you had the killswitch lanyard attached to you because that sounded pretty intense.

Did you get your Navionics tablet rigged up yet? That is one situation where the chartplotter can really come in handy to avoid those shoaly areas and you can see depth figures on the chart so you can subtract the wave heights and determine what course you'll be safe from bottoming out.

Well handled, captain... :beer-7687-1:

Thanks, Keith. I do have Navionics set up on my Android tablet, just haven't learned how to use anything besides the basic charting yet. That's going to take a bit of time, I think. That must be incredible to be able to calculate the wave heights and the area depth?!?! Not sure if I'm geeked out enough to be able to figure that. Wish there was a course on just learning all the features on that app. It looks amazing.

On the lanyard, could you kindly explain what it's exact function is? From what I've been told and read, you have it attached to you in case you get thrown out of the boat and it kills the motor so the boat doesn't take off. Any other reasons?

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