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Watch Your Wake!


Capt. George East


  • HOW TO BE COURTEOUS AND PREVENT YOUR WAKE FROM DISTURBING OTHERS.

 

  • HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BOAT AND YOUR PASSENGERS WHEN OTHERS AREN'T SO COURTEOUS.

QUESTION: Why should I care about my wake?

ANSWER:

  • Maritime Law plainly states that you are responsible for any damage caused by your wake.
  • Common courtesy to your fellow boaters on the waterways.


QUESTION: Me and my boating buddies run slow in our mid 20's to mid 30's cruisers so our wake shouldn't be a problem. Right or wrong?

ANSWER:

  • Right if you are running 8 mph or less. WRONG if your "slow speed" is in the 11 to 18 mph range. At those speeds your planing hull boat is in transition from hull speed to planing speed. The result of that power setting is a disaster for you and everyone on the waterway. Your boat's engines are straining, your fuel economy (mpg) is worse than if you were running at full throttle and you are MAKING THE LARGEST WAKE THAT YOUR BOAT CAN MAKE AT ANY SPEED!! Try that some time and look behind you and see what is happening to your wake.


QUESTION: What can I do to prevent my wake from disturbing others?

ANSWER:

  • Be aware of other boats and their location.
  • Boats most likely to be damaged by your wake will be at anchor; rafted to other boats at anchor; tied to a dock at the shore or pushed up on a beach.
  • When running at an efficient planing speed small to mid size cruisers ( 25' to 30') need to stay at least 250 yards clear of the above boats. Larger cruisers and motor yachts need to maintain at least 500 yards clear when running on plane.
  • IF YOU ARE AT ALL IN DOUBT ABOUT YOUR WAKE SLOW DOWN TO A MINIMUM WAKE SPEED WELL BEFORE YOU REACH THEM!
  • IF YOU WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE ABREAST OF YOU TO SLOW DOWN YOUR FOLLOWING WAKE WILL STILL HIT THEM WITH FULL FORCE!



QUESTION: What about overtaking a slower boat?

ANSWER:

  • When overtaking a boat that is running much slower than you are
    at any wake making speed pass well clear (at least 200 yards) to allow him to maneuver into your wake at 60 to 90 degrees with his bow. If the waterway is too narrow or too crowded to allow that then SLOW DOWN TO MINIMAL WAKE SPEED. Contact the slower boat on the marine radio and ask him to slow to an idle and then you can pass him at your minimal wake speed and not cause any damage. THIS IS KNOWN AS A SAFE PASS. It is used extensively on the narrow sections of the Intercoastal Waterway.


QUESTION: How can I keep from having my passengers tossed and around and my boat damaged while underway by a large wake from another boat.

ANSWER:

  1. The absolute best defense is "situational awareness". That is being aware of other boats near you and their course and speed.
  2. If you see a boat coming toward you making a large wake slow down to just above idle and turn your bow into the wake. Do not speed up until you have passed through ALL the waves from the wake.
  3. When being overtaken by a boat making a large wake, turn your boat so that you are moving away from the wake long enough to allow you to make a turn back toward the wake with your bow entering the wake at about 90 degrees at a speed of just above idle.
  4. Taking wakes with the bow of your boat at a speed just above idle is always the safest and most comfortable method of dealing with large wakes.

 

Above, two kids who got swamped by a large cruiser wake re-enact their panic. A 41' Sea Ray aft cabin came on plane less than 50 yards from the bowrider, and even following the advice above, it was hard to prevent the bow from getting stuffed.

Fortunately, nobody got washed overboard when the boat filled with 6" of water during the event. Rollers from faster-moving large boats tend to be closer together than those from slower barges, and can even flood the decks on a towboat or houseboat. Thank goodness for working bilge pumps and a self bailing hull on this little boat! Photo by Capt. -Eric

 

When the waterways are narrow or crowded it is you the captain's responsibility to be sure your boat and your passengers are properly prepared for a large wake and also for you to be alert and ready to take the proper action to mitigate damage or discomfort.


FINAL NOTES: Most wake damage and discomfort are caused by skippers that are unaware that they are doing anything that would harm someone's boat or passengers. However there are some skippers out there who know better but really don't care. If you follow the above procedures you will be ready for both kinds. Also if you wake someone and they call you on the radio to complain just apologize. It takes two people to have an argument and an apology will diffuse the situation.

Be careful and have fun out there. -Capt George



Capt George East
USCG MASTER 100 GRT
george@paradigmyachts.com

 

Capt. George East
Paradigm Yacht Sales

George East has been boating since he was seventeen, has had other interests including flying (FAA licensed pilot) car racing, and snow skiing, but he has always remained an ardent boater. After earning a USCG captain's license some 25 years ago, George spent time as a delivery and demonstration captain for one of the major motoryacht manufacturers.

During this same period, while he was building a successful construction and ready mix concrete company, George still found time to own and operate several boats including two Chris-Crafts, a Gulfstar, and two Hatterases.

Fast forward to the present to find George retired from his businesses, devoting all of his energy to boats and the boating industry. George currently holds a 100 Ton USCG Master's license. His specialties are classic Chris-Craft and Hatteras yachts. George instructed with the U.S. Power Squadron for 15 years, and is now a broker with Paradigm Yacht Sales in Louisville, Kentucky and Cape Coral, Florida.

 

This article was contributed to this site by Paradigm Yacht Sales, Louisville's largest brokerage.

Whether you're looking to buy or sell a boat, you can reach them at:

Paradigm Yacht Sales
P.O. Box 1043
US Highway 42
Prospect, KY 40059

877-468-7594 Toll Free
502-292-0444
Fax: 502-292-0442

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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