When are the seas too rough to take the boat out?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mrsrobinson, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. mrsrobinson

    mrsrobinson New Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    Richmond, Virginia
    1995 Sea Ray 330DA - Sold
    2001 Regal 3780 - Sold
    Big ones
    [FONT=&quot]I was not sure where to post this so I dropped it in here.

    If you have seen some of my recent threads, you probably know the Mrs and I want to step up to a bigger boat. We currently own a 330DA and we boat on the James/Appomattox Rivers, occasionally venturing down to Hampton/Norfolk, VA. So we are fresh water river boaters and the 330DA does great for us. We occasionally get some chop on a windy day or where two waterways meet, but nothing serious.

    We want a bigger boat for 2 reasons: 1) we want to keep our boat in Hampton so we are closer to the Chesapeake Bay and 2) since Hampton is a 90+ minute trip for us from home by car, we would stay on the boat for longer periods of time when we go down there so we want more room.

    Still with me? Bueller, bueller....

    So we keep hearing from other 330DA owners and even 40DA owners that when they bay is choppy/rough they do not go out. We have even heard nobody goes out when it's too choppy/rough.

    The unknown to us, since we are river boaters, is what/when is the point where you do not go out? How does one know this? Sure, if a storm is coming I am not going out. But if the forecast is great, how do I know we can take the boat out? Is this something you learn from experience or are there some guidelines? Is there a broadcast of some kind folks listen to and they hear something that tells them "not going out today, too rough". And, if it's too rough at 9AM, will it be better at noon? :huh:

    Thanks,[/FONT]
     
  2. Sundancer

    Sundancer Active Member

    Jul 20, 2005
    Prosser, WA
    30 year old CLASSIC 300 DA, towed almost anywhere behind the Duramax Duallie Crew Cab.
    16 cyl, 700 cu. in./Alpha I's
    Some people are fair weather boaters. Maybe that comes from years of experience or inexperience? I'm not sure. I figure when the waves are coming OVER the bow, it's time to head back. Of course, that's assuming I can turn around without catching a wave broadside and swamping the boat. The boat can usually take more than the owners are willing to put up with. So it's really whatever you are comfortable with. A bigger boat gives you more options in rough weather though. We've idled along on some of the lakes around here and about every 10 waves, one will come over the bow into the boat. I look around and I see other boats on plane slamming across the water. I'm not comfortable doing that because it seems so hard on the boat. So, we just idle back in those conditions. It's rough, but I've never had any concern that the boat couldn't handle it. Usually one of my crew gets sea sick and is hovering over the head! :)
     
  3. mrsrobinson

    mrsrobinson New Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    Richmond, Virginia
    1995 Sea Ray 330DA - Sold
    2001 Regal 3780 - Sold
    Big ones
    I have been in seas on the 330DA where water was coming over the bow and splashing onto the windshield. In fact, the water froze on the windshield as it was below freezing. That was an interesting day..thank goodness credit cards double as ice scrapers too!

    I was concerned at first, but figured it out and she handled it fine.

    Even then, I cannot tell you how high the seas were that day. How does one know? Educated guess?
     
  4. ImpulseIII

    ImpulseIII Active Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    Jersey Shore/Venice FL
    2001 410 Sundancer
    Caterpillar 3126TA
    We have had the boat in some real crap and never felt that the boat was in any sort of jeopardy. Its a mater of adjusting your speed to the conditions and paying close attention if the weather appearers to be deteriorating. Sometimes the ocean or the Chesapeake can be like a pond and then very quickly turn into a real mess. We do not deliberately go out in miserable or overly windy conditions but sometimes thing's change when you are out or sometimes you have to get home and need to do so in conditions that would normally keep you in port. The bigger the boat, generally speaking, the better to make way in less that ideal conditions.

    Want to buy a bigger boat??:wink:
     
  5. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    I can't wait to see the answers for this one..........


    In practice, whether or not to go out is going to boil down to 2 things......can you get in and out of your slip in the winds/seas you have and not damage your boat or others near you? If you aren't sure....stay in the slip. The other consideration is going to be how much abuse and discomfort you and your passengers care to endure......too much and boating ceases to be fun for anyone.

    So, know your limits and don't exceed them.

    As far a winds/current and getting in and out of a slip, I can handle a boat fairly well and my particular boat has no bow thruster but is one of the best handling Sea Rays built and, while it isn't pretty and I don't break anything, we do ok in 25-35 kts of wind across the slip. Those conditions are usually dock party days for most of the others in the marina.

    You didn't ask what the boat can handle, but it is going to come up........the short answer is that a 40' Sea Ray can handle more than its occupants want to. There will be a time when you get caught in heavy seas. For us, the last time was a 40 mile stretch with 10-12' seas . We just slowed to about 12 kts and secured everything that was loose and chugged on home......it was just a "that wasn't fun" experience, but had we not had good electronics and a great autopilot, it would have been a real long miserable day.

    Also, keep in mind that your wife and passengers probably don't understand what is going on as well as you do. While you may be comfortable in certain conditions, if the others along a scared, it makes for a bad experience for everyone.....do it enough times and your boating gets abbreviated.
     
  6. Turtlesboat

    Turtlesboat Minister of Media TECHNICAL Contributor GOLD Sponsor

    Feb 4, 2007
    New York City
    1996 450DA, TNT, Caribe dink w/15hp OB.
    3126 427HP TD transmissions
    If we get to the boat and the weather isn't great (my dog won't jump on because it's rocking too much) we change it to a shopping day.

    I don't like following seas, mostly because i don't have enough experience in them, so if it looks like a white knuckle day I just don't go out. I'm sure as I get more comfortable I'll be able to venture out on questionable days and be able to get home if things turn south but I don't consider it fun. But if I have guests, their tolerance is even much lower than mine so I try to keep an eye on them to see if it's time to head in.


    oops, I see Frank said that. What Frank Said.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2008
  7. unlvrebel

    unlvrebel New Member

    341
    Mar 24, 2008
    Clearwater, FL
    2005 220 Sundeck
    2002 Dodge Durango 5.9L
    5.0 Merc
    To paraphrase Potter Stewart, you'll know it when you see (experience) it.
     
  8. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    "A rule of thumb is that a boat can handle seas up to 1/2 it's length"

    I'd like to know the source of that particular guideline. I must be a real wuss ........ I"m not going to be out in 22'+ seas.
     
  9. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    You are a wuss Frank. I can handle 24 foot waves.... Let's see... that would mean the waves would be over the hardtop on my bridge... yep... I can handle that.

    The "rule of thumb" I've always heard (from a Coast Guard "rough water handling lecture") was a boat is typically comfortable in waves up to 10% of it's water line length. But that is very dependent on the wave structure/frequency and hull design. The Sea Ray hull design isn't the most forgiving thing in a chop... But a Viking is a different story. Most boats can handle much more than that but that's the "rule of thumb" where you shouldn't have to be concerned about people being scared/throwing up and you can plane without pounding.

    It also depends on the boat style... an open bow boat can not handle anywhere near the seas something like a closed bow Sundancer can handle.

    I also judge based on if the wind is increasing or decreasing. If you have 20 knot winds and 4 foot waves and the wind is increasing, the seas will be steeper than if you have the wind decreasing.

    I will also say that most people can't judge wave height. When I was cruising two summers ago with a group, some people called the waves we were in 8 footers... they were 4 footers...

    My major weather rule is never go out in weather that has a name.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2008
  10. Alex F

    Alex F Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.
    Besides being in agreement with everyone’s posts, I think it also depends the reasons to go out. Most of the time we’re going out to a destination where it’s pleasant to spend a day on water for fun with family and friends. So, if the wind is stronger and waves are larger than what feels comfortable heading to the beach, then like Frank said it’s a dock party or I can pick a close by protected destination. As for other reasons to go out, I think the first showstopper is the small craft advisory. I’m in the bay most of the time, so even with the small craft advisory I was fine in my 240DA.

    One time we planned a fishing trip with 2 other friends and I knew the conditions were a little rough, but since I couldn’t find anywhere SCA warnings I decided to head out. As we headed out I finally herd SCA warning, but we were about 40 min in to the trip and getting closer to the inlet. The inlets, I think are the roughest. Before making final decision I asked my buddies if they’re comfortable and told them if we make the decision to go through the inlet and it’s too rough we’ll turn around and adjust accordingly. Despite the fact that I got caught couple of times in Florida quick rolling storms (while vacationing there on my 240) this was the roughest conditions I ever been. However, I felt very comfortable in the boat and myself. As a precaution, I wasn’t too far from shore (no more than a mile and while fishing we were drifted very close to the shore). The wind wasn’t too strong, but waves were around 6-7 feet (large and rolling not too fast). After fishing for about 1-1.5hrs I saw that one of my friend started feeling not too good, so we packed and made our way back to the bay.

    The experience showed me that the boat handled these conditions great giving me even more comforting level. I was able to keep it on plane just enough to ride the waves and not to smash it. I hate when the boat hits the bottom hard. We have lots of stuff and I don’t feel like breaking anything or cleaning the big mess.

    Now that we’ve purchased 320DA I feel like being on the small ship, of course comparing to the smaller boats I've owned. I have great comfort in the boat handling. However, I wouldn’t even think of taking my family and kids to start our way out in 4-6 feet. Most of the time it’s not going to get better fast enough to enjoy the journey. As for the times if you’re caught while being out, no worries about the boat, it will handle it.

    Hope this helps a little.

    Good luck with the upgrade,
    Alex.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2008
  11. Gunn

    Gunn Active Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Potomac River - MD
    2003 280DA and 1995 Sea Ray 175
    Twin 4.3l and 3.0l, all w/ AlphaI GenII drives
    Somewhere I came across a simple formula a couple of years ago to give an estimate of what a boat could handle. Multiplying one thing with another, then dividing. Involved the width of that boat, in addition to length. Sheesh, I wish I could find it.
    In any case, for my 18' boat, it calculated to be 3' waves. Which I would tend to agree with, though you won't catch us in those kind of waves in this boat! It would not be pleasant. Not to mention its a bowrider, and I probably wouldn't last long. :)
    But you guys have fun with your 10-12 footers, i'll just pretend...
     
  12. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    I could have sworn someone said earlier their 20 foot bow rider could handle 8 foot waves... Probably a Tiara.
     
  13. Woody

    Woody Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Nov 20, 2007
    N. Wisconsin/Lk Superior
    2005 420DA
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    Maybe this will turn into another bowrider to the Bahamas debate. What is everyones definition of "handle it"?
     
  14. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    Good point. I was referring to running 2+ hours (cruising somewhere) and no one is bitching or throwing up.
     
  15. gerryb

    gerryb Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 12, 2006
    Somers Point, NJ
    "On Vacation"
    2006 40 Sundancer
    E120 Radar & Garmin 5208
    QSB5.9 380 Cummins
    The 10% rule works for us...I don't like going out in 4+' waves; 1-3 are fine though - with a 31' LOA the math works...
    Wind is the other factor I pay attention to when getting the NOAA reports in the morning. Maybe the 50% rule applies to wind? Meaning that wind speed (Knots) less than 50% your LOA? That's also about right for us - I don't like to be out when the wind hits 15 knots or so.

    These guidelines have been proven to be very reliable for us, at least for our boat, as to what to expect out on the water.

    We did a Marinemax getaway last year in a small craft advisory and it was tough on the crew, especially the inlet and Delaware Bay but we made it there. 4+ waves and 15+ wind. I would not have gone out that day if it were not a scheduled event though. Went out another day where no waves, but wind at 15-20 and bringing her back into the slip was interesting...but doable. YMMV.
     
  16. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    Well on my 240 then (do you count the swim platform) I can go in 11 to 12 foot sea's.

    I don't think I'm gonna try that no thanks, it's a boat not a submarine.
     
  17. MAKC

    MAKC Member

    499
    Oct 23, 2006
    Windsor Locks, CT / Milford, CT
    2005 320 Sundancer
    Twin 6.2 Mercruiser w/V-Drives
    I'm of the opinion that you should know your limits and stay within them. Im sure the boat will handle more than i am willing to, but i choose not to test that theory. Keep an eye on the weather, marine forecasts, and even use a laptop to get current doppler loop info on the area you are traveling through. It'l give you a pretty decent idea of what to expect and make decisions based on it. Traveling in rough seas with the family will surely ruin the experience for everyone and shorten an already short boating season up here in the northeast. :)
     
  18. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    When I read your post, I thought you were agreeing with that... I see you actually were *not* so I apologize for calling you an idiot behind your back.

    Come on! There comes a time in wave height your engines can't push the mass up the incline, even tacking into it, and your boat will pitch poll... that is unless it gets swamped and sinks from a wave breaking over the front. I have a 20 foot bow rider and it's good for about 2-3 feet before it starts to swamp.

    I took my 480 out in Gale Warning with winds pushing over 35 knots ONE time and it was STUPID. I had a wave break over the side and about wash my oldest son right out of the cockpit... I learned the sliding door leaks and the cockpit doesn't drain real fast unless the door is snapped open. I was out looking for trouble and I found it. No way a a 24 foot open bow boat can handle 12 foot waves unless they are very low frequency swells.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2008
  19. Larry&Leisa

    Larry&Leisa Active Member

    Oct 26, 2006
    Keystone Lake Oklahoma
    1999 330EC
    454's
    3' ers are plenty for me in our 240SD. I found mself in a precarious postion once, about the 2rd time I had our boat out, between and slightly aft of 2 houseboats at the start of a poker run. And they were acting like they were in the performance class... well needless to say... I don't like 5'+ for sure. :smt100
     
  20. mrsrobinson

    mrsrobinson New Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    Richmond, Virginia
    1995 Sea Ray 330DA - Sold
    2001 Regal 3780 - Sold
    Big ones
    So how does one know wave height? From radio/broadcast reports? Is that the only source or is their a salty dog way to figure it out? If we are in 3-4' waves and it's acceptable to us, how do I know I am in 3-4' waves?

    Gary, how would I know if the wind is decreasing? From broadcasts over time increments?

    Generally I am hearing there is a definite "DO NOT GO OUT POINT" and then there is "experience and your comfort level is your measure".
     

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