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Swells-what can my boat take

Old 03-14-2019, 11:09 AM
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Default Swells-what can my boat take

I have a 30 foot W/A Centruy with twin 300 hp Yamahas. This is my second season of boating and I think Iím more skilled then I was my previous year. My biggest question is can my boat handle 3 to 4 foot swells? Iíve onto ever taken her out in 2 foot swells. So I was wondering what yíall would think
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:17 AM
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Safely or comfortably?
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:19 AM
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Details--Yes, can handle 3 to 4 and even 10 to 12 foot "swells"..if the period is long enough 15 seconds or so. Long period will result in a gentle up & down on the "swell".
Shorter the period the more abrupt the movement and the ride. swells with a wind causing significant chop on the surface--a "disorganized" sea can cause additional problems.

So--like many things--no easy, cut & dry answer.
Usually a boat can "handle" more than the crew.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:21 AM
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Side seas quarter sea or head on? I was in 3-4 with occasional 5 recently and head on sucked REALLY bad in a 31 cat. 22mph is about all I could do somewhat comfortably. Side sea or following was just fine at 32-34 mph. I donít see 3-4 being unsafe in that boat at all. Going straight into them is prob gonna suck. Only 1 way to find out......
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:08 PM
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true to life 3-4 in the gulf will be safe in that boat

it will be a bumpy ride tho
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:09 PM
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The better question is how much chatter can your teeth take.
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:59 PM
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It can handle it no doubt but anything over 5 to 10 knot wind especially 10 to 15 plus you better have your helmet and mouth guard on because it will be a bouncy one and no fun to captain the boat not to mention breaking crap as well. Also schedule a chiropractor visit as well the following week if you plan on overnighting in 3 to 4s cuz I can assure you some 5s and 6s will be mixed in.
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:03 PM
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All the above answers are good answers. This is where experience is important or gained.... as they say any idiot can steer a boat but experience will teach you! Be safe and careful out there!
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Old 03-14-2019, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Twin Vee 26 View Post
Safely or comfortably?

hopefully both
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:47 PM
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What I call a swell is nicely spaced out rollers. Sure that boat will be fine. So would a canoe. In the Gulf, a true spaced out swell is really rare. Typically its going to be a close and often confused chop with wind probably around 15-20+kts. Can the boat handle it? Yes, but why go out in 3-4' chop in a medium sized boat. If a storm blows up and its already that rough, youre in trouble. Not to mention, and again I mean a "real" 3-4' chop, not the 1-2' that many people would call 4-5's, wouldnt be fun at all to fish in.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:06 PM
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Lot of good advice, but the boat is seldom the limiting factor. The operator and his/her expertise and experience in operating in foul weather conditions are what is important. I would recommend that you take your boat out with an experienced Capt when it is rougher than you have normally operated in, and see what each approach to the waves does and how your actions and reactions affect the boat. You don't want you first experience in rough water to be when you are out fishing with family and a storm sweeps in. Be proactive. That boat will handle almost anything the Gulf will throw at you, especially if you are ready for it.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by aqua-holic View Post
Lot of good advice, but the boat is seldom the limiting factor. The operator and his/her expertise and experience in operating in foul weather conditions are what is important. I would recommend that you take your boat out with an experienced Capt when it is rougher than you have normally operated in, and see what each approach to the waves does and how your actions and reactions affect the boat. You don't want you first experience in rough water to be when you are out fishing with family and a storm sweeps in. Be proactive. That boat will handle almost anything the Gulf will throw at you, especially if you are ready for it.
x2!!!
Try to get some more experience before ya head out during a cold front and the fog.
Usually your ass will tell you when to go/no go...
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Fisherfoster View Post
I have a 30 foot W/A Centruy with twin 300 hp Yamahas. This is my second season of boating and I think Iím more skilled then I was my previous year. My biggest question is can my boat handle 3 to 4 foot swells? Iíve onto ever taken her out in 2 foot swells. So I was wondering what yíall would think
Iím pretty close to your situation but a 27í CC and twin 150ís. 3í is my cutoff for comfortable fishing, I canít run comfortably it takes forever to get anywhere, and drifting gets tough to do anything with a 4-5 second interval. I donít know what my safe limit is but I have no plan to stick around in 4 footers.

Also a super important thing to remember is not only are these forecasts, but also they are an average of the 66 percentile of waves. So a 4í forecast means 3 footers with a lot of 4+ footers mixed in. Then the models say about 1 in every 1000 waves will be double that height so at some point in the day you very well could encounter an 8 footer if the forecast models are correct.

Also even if you could handle the waves in the open water, what is the pass going to look like when you get back? Thatís the part that would scare me the most. 4í seas, meeting an outgoing tide, in the east pass means 6-8í white caps on the sand bar. No way in hell am I going through that!!!

Last edited by bluescholar; 03-15-2019 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:54 AM
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Swell or local wind generated Waves? That makes a huge difference!
I can easily have 10ft swell with a 20 ft boat as long period is above 10 seconds and no considrable wind is creating white caps
As shorter the period is, steeper the waves become and more difficult it will be to navigate.
These series of surface gravity waves are not wind waves, which are generated by the immediate local wind, but instead are generated by distant weather systems, where wind blows for a duration of time over a fetch of water. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swell_(ocean)
OP is probably asking for local wind generated wave hight and not swell!

Main problem with long period swell is to adjust your speed to neither pund or even worst get airborne, the correct speed depend on swell height and period.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:17 AM
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Here is a link to one of the Live Buoys from NOAA off the Texas coast. Today is a good example of how to look at waves, and the different kinds. There are two main wave types to look at one is "swells" second is "Wind Waves".

https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_pa...?station=42035

As I type this the swell height (SwH) is 1.3' the Swell period (SwP) is 8.3seconds and the Swell direction(SwD) is SSE
The Wind wave height (WWH) is 4.9' the Wind Wave period (WWP) 4.5 seconds the Wind Wave direction (WWD) is NNE and the wind waves are currently VERY STEEP.

All this info can be found on the link from the live buoy. What this tell us, is that the swells waves and the Wind waves are going almost opposite of each other. In this case you can have standing waves that will be 5'+, extremly close together and face of the wave almost vertical. Any REC vessel owned by anyone on THT will get the shit beat out of it if it was on the water today in the Gulf off Mexico off the Texas coast. Could the boat take it, good chance yes. Could the captain and passengers take it, not without a lot of sore muscles,bruising and maybe worst.

Now to answer your question, it is not as simple as how high of waves can myself or my boat handle. It is a combo of wave height, wave period, wave directions and wave steepness.
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Old 03-15-2019, 01:03 PM
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I ran all the way to Thunder Horse in 4ft waves in my 26 a couple years ago. They were being pushed in from a hurricane off the tip of Florida. They were 10ish seconds apart and it was smooth as a baby's bottom going straight into them at 32 mph. All this to say that Jeepman nailed it.
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Old 03-15-2019, 01:06 PM
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The boat will surely take it more than people will
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bluescholar View Post


Iím pretty close to your situation but a 27í CC and twin 150ís. 3í is my cutoff for comfortable fishing, I canít run comfortably it takes forever to get anywhere, and drifting gets tough to do anything with a 4-5 second interval. I donít know what my safe limit is but I have no plan to stick around in 4 footers.

Also a super important thing to remember is not only are these forecasts, but also they are an average of the 66 percentile of waves. So a 4í forecast means 3 footers with a lot of 4+ footers mixed in. Then the models say about 1 in every 1000 waves will be double that height so at some point in the day you very well could encounter an 8 footer if the forecast models are correct.

Also even if you could handle the waves in the open water, what is the pass going to look like when you get back? Thatís the part that would scare me the most. 4í seas, meeting an outgoing tide, in the east pass means 6-8í white caps on the sand bar. No way in hell am I going through that!!!

spot on sw pass gets frieking sketchy when its 3 to 5s def 8 footers confused in the mix...
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Fisherfoster View Post
I have a 30 foot W/A Centruy with twin 300 hp Yamahas. This is my second season of boating and I think Iím more skilled then I was my previous year. My biggest question is can my boat handle 3 to 4 foot swells? Iíve onto ever taken her out in 2 foot swells. So I was wondering what yíall would think
Let's visit terminology for a moment. To some people waves are waves, and that's fine. To some there are a few different kind of waves. As it relates to us recreational boaters, there are swells and there are wind waves. Let's think of a swell like this. Have you ever been to the beach on a day that the wind isn't blowing but there are nice waves rolling in? Those are typically swells. They are far from their source of origin, normally spaced far apart and have a nice "rounded type shape to them.

Take a look at these swells.

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Then there are what we call wind waves. They are generated by wind in the immediate area. They are often close together and rather than being rounded in shape, they are steep in comparison. Take a look at these wind waves.

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The difference to us recreational boaters is really important in terms of how comfortable our boat ride is going to be. A term you'll hear boaters use often is wave interval. Not to be mistaken for wave length. Wave length is the distance between two wave crests. That's the time between when one crest passes and the next. Wind waves often have a very short interval on the Gulf Coast. 4 seconds isn't uncommon. Let's imagine 3 foot wind waves. Remember, the front of the wave is steep. It pushes our bow skyward then it comes back down right into the next wave. That delivers a punishing ride. In the swells pictured above, our bows rise gently and fall gently. A good analogy in terms of comfort would be the difference between driving over speed bumps at 30 MPH or going over small bridges at 30 MPH.

Some other wave terminology.

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I will tell you this. The way the Gulf Coast delivers 3-4 footers, none of us want to be out there in our recreational boats. On the Pacific Coast, they are often really comfortable because at that height they are often residual swells from a wind even very far away. They have a very smooth shape and long interval.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:47 PM
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X2 USCG and Jeepman.

For me 3-4 wind wave reported in gulf ranges from no fun / in the neigborhood of feeling unsafe (in a 42 CC)

I strongly suggest finding the bouys close to where you boat and compare your experiences to what is reported. What you are apt to find is that your, and others, perceptions of the waves you are in is off by quite a bit (factor of 2-3x).

Below is from a couple Fridays ago, wind was forecasted to lay down and didnt. Waves were worse than USCG image of wind waves above...

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