There’s nothing that can make you feel quite as small and scared as boating amidst a raging sea. Strong winds, high waves, and crashing waters can rattle even the most experienced boaters, causing a sense of panic to grip the senses and cloud judgement. But don’t let the situation get the best of you.
While it might seem like you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature’s wrath, there’s actually a lot you can do to navigate those tough waters and make your way to safety in one piece. So what should you do when operating a boat in large waves? Here’s the low down.
What to Do in Large Waves
According to the Boat Ed Exam study guide, the first thing you have to do is to instruct everyone on board to wear their life jacket. The quizlet also states that in some cases, you might be able to ride out the large waves and make your way to the nearest dock or shore. But if you’re already caught in a storm and the conditions prove difficult to navigate, you may want to consider riding out the harsh weather before you move along.
Under no circumstances are you encouraged to take on breaking waves. These waves can capsize even the largest, most powerful boats. So try to braze yourself and keep your passengers secure while you wait the conditions to get better.
How to Operate a Boat in Rough Seas
There are some serious dangers to navigating choppy waves in stormy conditions, including falling overboard and capsizing. If you decide that you might be able to inch your way to shore without costing your safety, see to it that you observe the following guidelines:
Dial down your speed to less than 10 mph so you can carefully navigate the waves. The slower you go, the less your engine has to fight against the conditions. This also means that your boat won’t resist the waves and thus cause too much dipping at the stern.
Avoid Meeting the Waves Head-on
Keep your bow at a 45° angle against the oncoming waves. If you’re navigating a smaller PWC however, you might be able to get away with meeting the waves dead center.
Keep your Passengers Low and Centered
If there are other people on your boat, tell them to stay closer to the center of the deck. It might also help to ask them to sit down on the deck floor to centralize the boat’s center of gravity.
Empty the Bilge
Turn on your bilge pump and get rid of any excess water. This should allow your vessel to sit higher on the water so that you aren’t as easily overcome by strong waves.
Toss an Anchor
If a full-on storm is assailing your boat and your engine gives up on you, then it might be time to throw out your anchor. See to it that you deploy the anchor from the bow of the boat. This should keep you from drifting, and may help reduce the chances of swamping.
Tips for Boating in Rough Water Conditions
No one ever wants to be caught in rough waters. But even with all the preparations, you might still find yourself muscling it out with strong waves if and when Mother Nature decides to throw a curve ball. If that’s the case, then you might want to keep these tips in mind:
Better Safe Than Sorry
Poor weather conditions are some of the most common causes for accidents and fatalities in the world of boating. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a part of the statistics. Just remember what should you do when operating a boat in large waves, keep calm, and wear your PFD’s to minimize the dangers and get back to shore in one piece.