navigate rough seas

Navigate Rough Seas

ALWAYS check the weather forecast prior to departure…even when it’s sunny out. Wind and rain can come in quickly and the sea states can also quickly change. The size of your boat and the severity of the weather will play a big part in how you navigate being caught in foul weather.
First, determine the severity of the weather, and the direction it’s moving, and then identify the closest safe harbor. Getting to safety is most important, even if you have to travel away from your intended destination. Bridges, docks, and the leeward side (the side the wind is not blowing) of small islands can provide some shelter.
If you have to travel against the waves, angle your boat at roughly 45 degrees and add power to ensure you are on top of the wave, to find the most comfortable ride and safe handling speed. If the seas are very rough (white caps), point the bow of the boat directly into the wind and waves (look at trees, flags, or direction waves are rolling) and provide enough power to keep the boat on top of the cresting waves. The goal is to stay on top of the crest of the waves.
As you roll over the waves, try to avoid hitting the face of the next wave too low, as it could cause the bow to go underwater and for water to wash through the boat. This is dangerous, as it could potentially flood the boat. If you are finding the water is close to or has come aboard your boat, then you need to your increase your speed.
Driving a boat in rough water is no easy feat and it’s tough to know how fast or how slow to go when you’re navigating these rough seas. A good way to learn the correct speed and how your boat reacts to waves is to practice navigating other boaters’ waves AFTER they are out of close proximity. A boat’s wake will give you a good idea of how to handle rough seas and provides confidence when the weather or seas change abruptly.
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