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best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

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  • best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

    Was wondering if anybody had any pointers on how to best approach / handle ocean swell on a smaller boat, largely caused from bigger ships..
    Have a 14 ft boat with 35HP 2 cycle motor. When running it in the bay there's a lot of traffic from bigger boats and they create pretty big swell waves. I usually hit them head on and let the bow rise and land back on the water but wasn't sure if this was the best way? I tried riding them which was fun but wasn't sure if that could bring the bow down and nose into the water? Sometimes they are 3-4 high and it's pretty fun but should there be any worry/real risk?

    The boat has a vhull in the front and decreases to about a 10 degree V to back.

    Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by lbcboating; August 5th, 2013, 06:48 PM.


  • #2
    Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

    Well, that's a lake boat and doesent belong on the ocean, but in the bay it may be ok if your careful. Take the waves head on, but don't put too much power to it. If you stuff the bow, your boat could take on quite a bit of water
    1961 Custom Craft Sea Ray- 1964 Mercury 650. In family since new.

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    • #3
      Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

      Those are not swells, those are wakes. Swells are not caused by other water craft, will have a longer period, and won't be as steep. The best way to take wakes is at a 45 degree angle and slow enough that you won't hurt yourself or the boat, but fast enough that you don't get swamped.

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      • #4
        Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

        Originally posted by Mischief Managed View Post
        Those are not swells, those are wakes. Swells are not caused by other water craft, will have a longer period, and won't be as steep. The best way to take wakes is at a 45 degree angle and slow enough that you won't hurt yourself or the boat, but fast enough that you don't get swamped.
        On a larger boat I would agree, but he's only got 14' and a very low freeboard on that type of boat. I think his safest way is just to take them head on. No chance of swamping the boat that way, if the approach wasn't perfect
        1961 Custom Craft Sea Ray- 1964 Mercury 650. In family since new.

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        • #5
          Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

          I'm more agreeing with the slow and 45 degree point of view.....
          EdgeWater 205 EX
          Yamaha 150
          2012 Dodge Hemi

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          • #6
            Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

            that's what I was thinking .. I was referring to them more as swells because of the size of the boat.. The bow of the boat is built higher with a deeper hull, but from the area were the driver / passengers sit it's a lower freeboard but still has a rounded v hull underneath that continues to the rear. It's hard to see it in the photo but it's bigger than it looks ... It actually rides really well over the swells/wakes when taking them head on but not sure if it's best in terms of wear/tear on the boat.

            I wasn't sure about this when I was in the bay around larger boats so I experimented and found that when I approached them at an angel I didn't have much control verses taking them head on , although the front hull of the boat didn't splash back down on the water. I also tried riding them in the same direction at and easing up on the throttle so they "pass through" which worked well but wasn't always practical..

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            • #7
              Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

              I'm not a fan of the 45 degree theory. You get too low and your going to get rolled. Heading straight into them can be equally as bad depending on the frequency. I've stuffed the bow heading straight into the wakes of passing freighters while trolling more times than I care to remember.

              Having said that, if they are spaced such that I don't bury the bow on the next wave set I'll go at them straight on. Otherwise, I'll steer into them @ 22 degrees.
              Grady White 226
              200 Evinrude Ocean Pro
              Evinrude Renegade Offshore Prop

              Furuno FCV 587 Sounder
              Garmin 4208 Multifunction Display
              ICOM M504A VHF
              Shakespeare Galaxy 5225-XT Antennas

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              • #8
                Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                Originally posted by dingbat View Post
                I'm not a fan of the 45 degree theory. You get too low and your going to get rolled. Heading straight into them can be equally as bad depending on the frequency. I've stuffed the bow heading straight into the wakes of passing freighters while trolling more times than I care to remember.

                Having said that, if they are spaced such that I don't bury the bow on the next wave set I'll go at them straight on. Otherwise, I'll steer into them @ 22 degrees.
                When you steer in at 22 degrees how fast are you going?

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                • #9
                  Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                  Depends on the wave size and the period. Anywhere from 2.5 -30 kts.
                  Grady White 226
                  200 Evinrude Ocean Pro
                  Evinrude Renegade Offshore Prop

                  Furuno FCV 587 Sounder
                  Garmin 4208 Multifunction Display
                  ICOM M504A VHF
                  Shakespeare Galaxy 5225-XT Antennas

                  Comment



                  • #10
                    Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                    As a life-long wake jumper, I agree with Dingbat; 45* is too much but you want a slight angle.

                    The most important skill is varying your speed; you do this to pick your bow up. Only YOU and your boat can know how to do this, and that takes practice practice practice. You also need to know how to vary your speed with following wakes, and how to turn 180* on one wave.

                    Once you have this, your ocean swells will be easy. Chop, on the other hand, is harder but the skills are the same.

                    Just because you figure this out doesn't mean you can drive it to Catalina, though.
                    A man of constant boat tinkering.

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                    • #11
                      Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                      When in a small boat dealing with big wakes, I hit the wakes head-on with the engine/boat going full-reverse. Makes for a nice smooth ride through the wake.

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                      • #12
                        Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                        I'd like to be the guy selling lower units in your town. I can't think of a worse technique, both for your boat and for your crossing wakes safely.
                        Never shift from forward to reverse. Pause at neutral until the boat is close to a dead stop and the prop is practically not spinning. That includes when docking.
                        And so, don't come to a dead stop when a big wake is about to crest your bow!
                        A man of constant boat tinkering.

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                        • #13
                          Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                          Originally posted by mrdancer View Post
                          When in a small boat dealing with big wakes, I hit the wakes head-on with the engine/boat going full-reverse. Makes for a nice smooth ride through the wake.


                          Swamped alot boats have ya?

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                          • #14
                            Re: best way to handle ocean swells on smaller boat?

                            Full speed ahead I say!

                            "If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there!"



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