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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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  #1  
Old 07-09-2008
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Cool Of powerboats and wakes

While doing my captain thing down in Miami, the land of big fishing boats and lots of tournaments, I, naturally, was subject to being smashed by an awful lot of huge wakes.

This led me to saying things like "Gosh darn him" and much, much worse. Occasionally over channel 16.

One fine Sunday afternoon, after a little trip just out of Biscayne Bay to do a little diving, we were returning through Stilt Town when a large Viking fishing boat came roaring back from somewhere. Cat Cay, I think.

Anyway, this particular yacht was a resident at the same place I was. I knew the captain well, we're friends.

Said yacht, moving at about 25 knots, blew past me just a few yards away. I was doing about 7.5 knots, which is almost all Breeze has in her under power. Like most Sedans, the Viking was digging a trench behind her. Since I was already as far to the right of the channel as I could get, I had no choice but to take the wake of this monster beam-on.

I looked at the flybridge, and there was my friend, the captain, looking forlorn and sad. He gave me a theatrical shrug. The owner was driving.

Needless to say, the Viking was back in her slip by the time we arrived an hour or so later. I got the docklines on, and went down to have a little palaver with the owner of the Viking, who was still there with his fishing buddies, and still swilling beer.

My captain pal knew I have a bad temper, and that I have a real problem with big powerboats 'waking' their sailboat brethren. I don't think, however, that he expected what I said. I said, "Tom (not his real name), what the hell were you doing?"

He gave me a smart reply, and I just nodded. Then I said, "You thought it would be fun to hit me with your wake. I tell you what. Why don't you and your buddies come down and hop on Breeze. You captain can bring your boat out and duplicate what you did to us about an hour ago.

Well, the crew of rather inebriated fishermen thought this would be great fun. So they piled onto Breeze and we muttered back out into Biscayne Bay.

My buddy brought the Viking out, moved off a ways to get a good running start, and reproduced the wake.

Fishermen went flying all over the boat. One of them partially fell on one of the huge primary winches. All of them were shocked at how violent the motion from the wake was.

The owner of the Viking sobered up quickly. He'd been thrown nearly off the boat. "I owe you a real apology, I think. I never realized..."

This worked that one time. Sadly, not nearly enough folks who drive big power yachts get a chance to experience what their wakes are doing. Worse still, most of them don't realize they're responsible for the damage their wake causes.

I admit I have a tendency to blow my stack when someone 'wakes' me. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. But maybe, just maybe, if more of us took the time and effort to actually show these guys how violently a sailboat rolls, and how much stuff gets launched below, they'd be a little more courteous.

Just a thought, anyway...
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Old 07-09-2008
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I cant believe the guy actually took you up on that offer. I agree with you I hate getting waked. It was almost comical this past weekend with the 4th of July and all. My harbor entrance is relatively wide but not so much that you can avoid following the rules of the road and it also has two huge rock jettis on either side. As I was coming in on the right side of the channel, I watched as 3 huge power boats, 38+ feet came roaring in from outside of the channel gunning it and waking the sh*t out of me just to make it in before me. One guy missed the jetti by only about 4 feet just so he could squeeze in first. Then literrally as soon as they get 5 feet in front of me into the "no wake zone" they throttle down to about 2 knots. Mean while me who has been motoring in straight up the channel the correct way there before any of the other boats and doing a consistant 5.5 knots the whole way now has to slow down to struggle from running these other boats over. They blast past me then slow down to almost nothing meanwhile if they had just stayed behind me they would have got to their slip quicker! My girlfriend had to literrally restrain me with a sail tie from jumping onto their boat and going postal on them. One of these days...
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Old 07-09-2008
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Gary,
That's a great story, I like your approach. Waking by nitwits is something I've grown to despise and live with at the same time. I've really come to appreciate those who are courteous enough to slow down and always give them a big wave. There is another hand signal I'd like to give the others but have not done so yet.
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Old 07-09-2008
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Classic, I love it! Great story.
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Old 07-09-2008
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Unfortunately, far too many powerboaters are completely clueless, in fact clue resistant or clue proof would be more accurate, when it comes to understanding what kind of damage or injury their wakes can cause. Also, many don't realize that coming down off of plane right near an anchorage is about the worst thing they can do. When a boat drops off of plane, the wake it creates until it slows to a reasonable speed is enormous.

And, yes, most of them don't realize that they're responsible for any damage or injury that occurs due to their wake.
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Old 07-09-2008
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I see this all the time. Because sailboats can be as big as their boats I think sometimes they don't really feel that they're doing anything buzzing past them. I had a friend who was really good about slowing down for people rowing or operating other human-powered craft but wouldn't slow down for sailboats until we had a chat!
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Old 07-09-2008
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That chat didn't involve using a rubber radiator hose filled with sand, did it?? If not, that's always an option for later.
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Originally Posted by merlin2375 View Post
I see this all the time. Because sailboats can be as big as their boats I think sometimes they don't really feel that they're doing anything buzzing past them. I had a friend who was really good about slowing down for people rowing or operating other human-powered craft but wouldn't slow down for sailboats until we had a chat!
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Unfortunately I am not at liberty to discuss the methods used during the chat but suffice it say that he now will not go past a sailboat doing anything over 2 knots
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Old 07-09-2008
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A large sport fisher from New York basically plowed through our goup of sailboats waiting for the opening of the Bridge of Lions in St Augustine, FL. All the boats were severly "waked" as he butted to the front of the line. When the bridge opened he took off, pedal to the metal, rocking the boats on the other side of the bridge. He continued straight out - straight out of the channel which turned a sharp right a few hundred yards from the bridge. When we passed him on our boats a few minutes later, our wakes didn't rock the high and dry motor boat. I guess we could have warned him on the VHF, but for some reason - no one did!
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You probably couldn't have warned him on your VHF. If 1 in 20 boats driven that way have a VHF on, its a lot. And if they have it on, its channel 9 for fishing info and gossip, not 16.
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