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Old 02-26-2009, 10:23 AM
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Default How to navigate a boat through a rough inlet?

For example when entering an inlet in a following sea and you have 4-6 or 6-8' seas. I'm talking nasty conditions where the waves are really slamming you.
Do you want to stay the same speed as the waves or power through them? What about in a head sea? Would you drive a 30' boat differently than a 50' or 60' boat?

Guess I can't edit the title. A "Rough inlet"

Note from Mod 4: I fixed it for you!
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:36 AM
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For tight following seas, it best to try and match the wave speed and ride the back of one in. This is not always easy and if not careful you can find youself in a broach situation.

For a head sea I want to take it easy so I don't launch off the waves. That beign said, I also don't want to drop the bow straight down over the wave and spear into the next one.

Remember tabs up in a follwing sea and down in a head sea, but in a tight head sea going into an inlet I adjust my tabs modestly and use the trottle.

Both situations require situational awareness and tight hands on the throttle and wheel.

As for driving a 50-60' boat differently verses a 30, well....hell yea.
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:51 AM
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For example when entering an inlet in a following sea and you have 4-6 or 6-8' seas. I'm talking nasty conditions where the waves are really slamming you.
Do you want to stay the same speed as the waves or power through them? What about in a head sea? Would you drive a 30' boat differently than a 50' or 60' boat?

Guess I can't edit the title. A "Rough inlet"
That's a wide range. There's a big difference between 4' and 8' seas. The degree of difficulty also depends a lot on the size/type of boat and your skills. In very serious conditions, the best way to enter an inlet in following seas is to ride the backside of a wave in. Its not all that easy to stay right on the backside, you have to constantly adjust your speed. Its also complicated by the fact that you may not be able to see over the wave. If so, you have to use other methods to ensure that you stay in the channel. You also have to fight the fear that the wave (right) behind you will catch you because it won't as long as you stay right on the one in front. You have to make sure you do not go over the wave in front because that can put you into a possible broach situation.

Going out in the same conditions you need to keep your bow as high as possible and your speed down. Speed is critical. To slow and you won't be able to keep the bow up enough and you may not have enough steerage - especially if there's a strong outgoing current. To fast and you can stuff the bow very seriously taking on too much greenwater and possibly pitchpoling the boat. Even if you do it all right, you may take some greenwater, but as long as the boat is within reason for the conditions, you should be ok.

The best thing to do is practice this stuff at the nasty inlet of your choice in *moderate* conditions.

Ken
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:22 AM
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Growing up I did my first boating in & out of a bay that almost always has a breaking sea across the mouth of it. It is very appropriatley named HUNGRY BAY. It is a narrow, shallow, rocky entrance. The bay is only usable by small OBs up to maybe 24'.

Before going out you have to study the frequency of the sets. Every 7th or 8th wave is usually larger than the rest followed by the smallest of the set. The trick is to move as soon as the big one or 2 go by &, as already said, do it at a speed so as not to launch off incoming waves.

Coming do just the opposite. Study the conditions & follow on the back of the biggest wave of the set keeping an eye on what might be breaking behind.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:16 PM
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Kinda off the point but I've encountered inlets on several occasions that made me so uncomfortable that I just waited it out. The conditions have always changed fairly quickly and I never regretted doing it.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:38 PM
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WOuld you use the same techniques for navigating a less the nasty inlet? How would you suggest a novice practice navigating an inlet without getting themsolves in to much trouble? This is great info thanks.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:38 PM
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Waves come in in sets... generally from 7-11 waves. There is usually 1 wave break from each set. You have to sit and watch if its that rough. Find the break and run in on the last wave's back. Size of boat, sea conditions, power you have... there are so many variables that this question can not be right out answered. If its too rough and you can not read the sets then wait it out a while.

in wort case senario and if you face a short inlets backing her across the bar is an option, though rarely done. I did back my old 1972 trojan across Bogue Inlet's bar (NC, very NASTY inlet) one time. That boat had no power. Would not recommend backing across the bar though.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:53 PM
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In the small fast boat, never get on the face of that wave--one hand on the throttle, the other on the helm (a good place for a spinner knob if you have to give rapid hard rudder). Keep the stern square to the seas.

A displacement larger boat is different; you may not have the speed to stay on the back of a wave. Again keep the stern square to the waves, and you may have to give throttle and rapid rudder to keep from broaching.

I agree with sitting and watching the waves before you proceed--looking for the best break, for the best wave set and double checking the channel--plus watching another boat go through the inlet. Also if you wait for high slack water, it may be much better than at low water or an ebb tide.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:15 PM
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I have come into a couple of inlets that made me stand up and take notice. One was in Cuttyhunk with really big rollers coming in. I was in a 24' boat. I let a big wave go under me and rode the next one all the way in. It wasn't too bad, just scary. Had to stay on the throttle to match the speed. As the depth changes, the wave speed changes. I also trimmed up my outdrive to keep my bow in the air. You don't want to drop onto plane and pick up speed in a situation like that.

Came into the Merrimack River in Newburyport, MA one time with 6' confused seas. Again, trimmed the bow up, hand on the throttle to constantly adjust speed and keep the bow up. Slowed down just before hitting a really big wave. Splashed a lot of spray in the boat and stressed a lot, but got through it. My wife voted to wait it out, but I felt OK giving it a try.

Came out of Portsmouth, NH one time in my 33' boat. Had very tight 8' seas that taperd off as you got away from the inlet. My wife said do it this time (the bigger boat gave her bigger conjones) but I wasn't so sure. We tried it and I took 3 waves over the bow, serious amounts of water coming over the bow, couldn't find a speed that felt comfortable. The bow was thrown way up and then felt like I feel off a cliff and dropped. I was going really slow and was afraid if I went slower I couldn't steer. After the third wave, I cut the wheel as hard as I could, gunned it, and managed to turn around before the next wave rolled me. I got on the back of a wave and rode it back in and stayed the night. (won't listen to the wife anymore)
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:18 PM
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good stuff , keep it coming , stuffed a 34 proline coming in ponce inlet once [ was on the boat any way ] and always wondered what he should have done different .
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReelNauti View Post
For tight following seas, it best to try and match the wave speed and ride the back of one in. This is not always easy and if not careful you can find youself in a broach situation.

For a head sea I want to take it easy so I don't launch off the waves. That beign said, I also don't want to drop the bow straight down over the wave and spear into the next one.

Remember tabs up in a follwing sea and down in a head sea, but in a tight head sea going into an inlet I adjust my tabs modestly and use the trottle.

Both situations require situational awareness and tight hands on the throttle and wheel.

As for driving a 50-60' boat differently verses a 30, well....hell yea.
Good advice!!!!
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
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WOuld you use the same techniques for navigating a less the nasty inlet? How would you suggest a novice practice navigating an inlet without getting themsolves in to much trouble? This is great info thanks.
Medic....most inlets in NC are pretty tame- they don't tend to be much different from the surrounding conditions.....Of course in bad conditions, any inlet can be a little hairy. The advice given here on handling seas is sound, so no need in it being repeated.
I've heard that Oregon Inlet gets pretty nasty, but I haven't been there.
The biggest thing to watch for here is the inlets changing. Almost all of them here get dredged, and sometimes the channel route will change-same with the ICW. If you follow the buoys, though, it's a pretty good bet you'll do OK.
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:53 PM
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Oregon can be a bear in certain conditions... as well as Hatteras and Bogue. When the Inlet looks bad, I'll first off lower my props to make sure I have no ventilation issues, then just ride a wave in. There's some inlets I've been out of that were so shallow, (New River), that that was the only way to get back in was to ride the wave in
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:00 PM
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Here was a nice day going back into Hillsboro Inlet, FL with an outgoing tide. Yes, that breaking sucker was IN the channel.



As described above - waited, watched and learned. Timed it right and rode the back of the small one between sets
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:12 PM
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The direction of tide and wind play an important role. On the west coat generally best to cross at slack tide and avoid wind and tide direction opposing each other. Also the CG will advise best timing windows. The Columbia Bar is a notorius man killer so caution and prior knowledge is urged. Google Columbia Bar and enjoy the read.
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:31 PM
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This is definitely not a task for a boat with minimum HP.

Great pix steve!
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:40 AM
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WOuld you use the same techniques for navigating a less the nasty inlet? How would you suggest a novice practice navigating an inlet without getting themsolves in to much trouble? This is great info thanks.
ncmedic,
Looks like you are from NC, always remember that if you don't feel comfortable going through an inlet you can alway's wait for a big 50-60ft Sportfisherman and follow them close. 99% of the fleet captains understand your situation and will even slow down to allow you to follow. Don't be afraid to call up on the radio and ask them for help. They will also keep an eye on you in case anything goes wrong.
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Old 02-27-2009, 06:34 AM
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ncmedic,
Looks like you are from NC, always remember that if you don't feel comfortable going through an inlet you can alway's wait for a big 50-60ft Sportfisherman and follow them close. 99% of the fleet captains understand your situation and will even slow down to allow you to follow. Don't be afraid to call up on the radio and ask them for help. They will also keep an eye on you in case anything goes wrong.
That's a good point! Big boats can be a lifesaver. Do like everone else said and ride the back of the wave. You want good power! I honestly don't care about tripple and quad boats at break-neck speeds but running an inlet is certainly a time you want power and ability to move fast.
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Old 02-27-2009, 07:02 AM
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I was a commercial fisherman in Oregon. My port was Winchester bay on the mouth of the Umpqua, we call it the Jaws the swells here are huge with rocks right next to the channel it has claimed many a boats and fisherman. I would work the throttle and wheel to get the best ride in or out, you are just a cork on the swell ride you maybe going straight when you are let down you could be 10-20% turned crank the wheel hit the throttle just to do it all over again .In the hole it is a wall of water in front you feel like you are going to be crushed you look behind you can't see nothing but a wall wave . I have taken one over the top of the wheel house here. You keep your head about you and you give the JAWS a lot of respect.
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:54 PM
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I agree with you fishnutz if you mean Masonboro or Morehead (they are both deep and wide for ship traffic)but, all of the NC inlets except Masonboro and Morehead can be terrible. New River where I run is usually not deeper than 6'....many times less across the bar and an outgoing tide with a S wind will make it nasty because of the quick change in depth. Many NC inlets force you to run at least part of the time beam or quartering the prevailing seas because of the channel and that is what makes them dangerous. The advice on wave sets and matching the speed of the wave set is right on when running with the seas. The other way running into a head sea you have just got to either slow down enough (sometimes I have to come in at displacement speed with enough power to steer) and that's all you can do or slip out when the smaller wave sets come through. Sometimes you come through NRiver and the boats close by are disappearing in the wave stacks. The biggest thing is experience and don't be afraid to throw in the towel until you gain some experience on better days. Hardest part of that is the shallow NC inlets are rarely the same when I leave at 5:30 as it is when I come back through in the evening. The other bad part of most NC inlets is they are skinny at the bar break and some nut finds a way to force you to the margins.
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Last edited by Greg Manning; 02-27-2009 at 05:57 PM.
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