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Old 25-06-2015, 14:41   #1
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How much Wake is "No Wake"?

I like clearly defined rules to follow and I like to please people with my compliance to rules, but I've had times to question my interpretation of the "No Wake Zones" that are common in the waterways we traverse.

"No wake" is an unclear subjective term; afterall, a waterbug skimming on a pond leaves a well defined wake. When I slow to 6 knots I produce about a 4 inch amplitude wave or this would be about 8 inches from trough to crest. I usually think of this as my compliance with a "no wake zone" and I rarely have a complaint from those fishing, on docks or kayaking.

Sometimes I will find someone screaming out a "No Wake Zone" reminder to me with this speed and wake. Of course, some boats at 6 knots will produce a wake three or four times mine. Usually, if someone is disturbed by my wake, they have something like an 18 foot boat tied to a cement dock with no fenders and expect no rocking to occur.

I know,.... I know..... I've heard the meaningless definition, "slow to idle speed so that your progress does not produce a wake." The trouble is that "Idle" represents a lower yet still undefined rpm and not a speed and no wake only exists without movement. Many harbors use a 6 kt. speed limit to control wakes and that makes more sense.

So, what are the opinions, given that even a dragonfly skimming the water leaves a wake. How much wake is no wake?
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Old 25-06-2015, 14:46   #2
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Most "no wake" zones I have seen also have "5mph" signs posted. That is pretty specific.
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Old 25-06-2015, 14:59   #3
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

I Can't help with a 'no wake' definition, but coming up through Hollywood, Fl. on the ICW yesterday, there were several 'Minimum Wake' signs, which clarified themselves by noting 'maximum wake 15"'.
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:01   #4
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

In Tennessee it is defined as:

Quote:
“No wake” is defined as a vessel traveling at or below idle speed, or at such speed that the boat or its wake (waves) is not sufficient to cause possible injury or damage to other persons, boats, or property.
And in Minnesota:
Quote:
No-wake defined:

Slow no-wake speed means the slowest possible speed to maintain steerage, but no greater than 5 mph.
The former is wishy-washy, at least the latter has a defined absolute maximum speed.

[Edit] because I saw the post above, Florida does define minimum wake:

Quote:
Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as "Slow Down - Minimum Wake" must operate fully off plane and completely settled in water. The vessel’s wake must not be excessive and cannot create a hazard to other vessels.
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:02   #5
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

A few months ago there was a 50 foot ish turbine powered tender to a megayacht anchored off sausalito. I heard someone come on the radio asking them to for gods sake slow down. They are doing about 10-12 knots, I'm guessing. Their response back was, "We're at idle".

Myself I cruise at 5MPH so leave it at standard power in no wake zones. Like the OP, I have a very small bow wake and an almost non-existant stern wake at 5 knots under power.
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:03   #6
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Interesting...

There is a 5 mph limit in the development where I live. Is this speed limit for safety or to protect all the floating docks from wake damage?....or both?

To me idle/slow speed is mostly irrelevant....the wake is the issue. A pontoon boat can cruise by my house at 7kts....oh wait....boaters use kn and leave an insignificant wake. A jetski or other PW can leave a HUGE wake at 5 kts if the operator chooses to.

And what about current? We have tides where I live which could produce a 3 or 4kt current.....one would barely move at all at idle speed or at the 5 kt limit if going against it. So in order to make any kind of way against this current, one HAS to produce a small wake....maybe even a not so small one.

They way I look at it is I don't want damage to my floating dock....any wake that causes excessive movement of my dock is no good. It's a total judgement call.
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:32   #7
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
In Tennessee it is defined as:
How does one travel BELOW idle speed?

Mark
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:40   #8
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

While everyone has their opinion of no wake, in my wintering area, there is an ongoing discussion of the wake problems involving the state government, Coast Guard and water users. It probably will lead to more regulation than anyone wants.
Wakes cause damage. Big wakes more damage and many small wakes cause damage as they add up. A dock near me has installed cameras to record passing boats. I live on a big boat and I maintain a private dock and have had many repairs because of wake damage. Even though the dock is open to a river ship channel, the most damaging wakes come from yachts and one Corp of Engineers cat, passing a mile away. Sailboats, even at speed, usually put out non-damaging wakes. The worst are power yachts traveling more than idle speed including small open boats plowing water. Ships often pass with unnoticeable wakes. How can they do this but weekend boaters can't?
Wakes cause wear on dock equipment, pilings, lines and boats in their path. A worker nearly had both legs broken when sitting on this dock with his legs between the dock and my boat. Without someone shouting a warning, he probably would have. The boat wake was from a 35' yacht.
When I pass a dock, I idle with one engine in gear, probably 3 knots and no bouncing boats, no squealing pilings, and no complaints. How can I do this but others can't?
If those of you, too self important to slow down, and failing to pass docks at reasonable speeds, eventually we'll have wake nazis. That hurts everybody.
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:47   #9
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

When one sees a no wake area it's typically directed towards the power boat crowd.
Being a former powerboater that came over to the dark side, sailboats being a displacement hull really do not create a wake to speak of when compared to a powerboat planning hull.

Any forward movement other than idle on a powerboat puts up a wake you could boogie board on.
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:49   #10
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
How does one travel BELOW idle speed?

Mark
By constantly going in and out of neutral?
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Old 25-06-2015, 15:50   #11
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
How does one travel BELOW idle speed?

Mark
Curiously, Florida uses the exact same language. I guess some lawmaker thought it was clever.

Maybe put in neutral, drift, put in gear at idle, neutral, drift....
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Old 25-06-2015, 16:40   #12
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Ok, I must confess. There have been some times when I was actually proud of being asked to slow down in order to produce less wake while operating my sailboat.
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Old 25-06-2015, 16:41   #13
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Decency, it seems, must be legislated. How nice.
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Old 25-06-2015, 16:51   #14
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Florida has changed "No Wake Zone" to "Slow Speed/Idle Speed Zone". In fact Florida has so many signs you have to go slow to read them. Google "slow Speed" and you will have pages of material to read. If you are traveling at a speed to create a wake and you enter a "Slow Speed Zone" and you cut your engines, you are still ticketed because of the following wake entering the Slow Speed Zone.
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Old 25-06-2015, 16:57   #15
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Re: How much Wake is "No Wake"?

Regardless of the posted speed limits etc. Displacement hulls will throttle up ... just because they can and no one will stop them. Some of these boats wait until past the last bouy (or arrive at it) to turn and throttle up in Northport. This sends a huge wave/wake which rolls all the moored boats. It's very annoying. Sailboats hardly leave a wake at 5 knots.

What's the hurry???
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