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Old 04-09-2012, 06:22   #1
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Steering Through Rough Water

I started a thread a whiles back discussing how to steer correctly through tide rips, rough water, large wakes, etc. there were a number of replies outlying some maneuvers such as zig zagging, pointing the bow at angles and so forth. Since then I have put many miles under my belt but can't seem to find the right spot for my boat; hunter e33.

When I get into some nasty weather or a large wake is coming at me, the only maneuver I can do that won't throw the boat around is to head directly or just slightly off the line into it. If it hits me at any other angle i get uncomfortably close to a knock down; at least it feels that way. Even after the initial swaying my boat wobbles about for some time and it's very difficult to stay on course and correct the heeling.

This has been tried both under power, sail and a combination of the two. It seems every powerboat I encounter just tosses me around silly. Am I doing something wrong here?
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:18   #2
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

Broad stern, flat under body, fin keel, light displacement...
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:29   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeddyDiver
Broad stern, flat under body, fin keel, light displacement...
So what your saying is that it's the boat and nothing I can do about it? Am I in danger of capsizing or does it just seem that way? It's very difficult to make any headway on a trip when I'm constantly going off course every time a boat passes me.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:41   #4
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL View Post
I started a thread a whiles back discussing how to steer correctly through tide rips, rough water, large wakes, etc. there were a number of replies outlying some maneuvers such as zig zagging, pointing the bow at angles and so forth. Since then I have put many miles under my belt but can't seem to find the right spot for my boat; hunter e33.

When I get into some nasty weather or a large wake is coming at me, the only maneuver I can do that won't throw the boat around is to head directly or just slightly off the line into it. If it hits me at any other angle i get uncomfortably close to a knock down; at least it feels that way. Even after the initial swaying my boat wobbles about for some time and it's very difficult to stay on course and correct the heeling.

This has been tried both under power, sail and a combination of the two. It seems every powerboat I encounter just tosses me around silly. Am I doing something wrong here?

Well, I think you may be worrying a bit too much about the rolling around. I have a Hunter 31', and if you have the older design that I do (big wide stern that slopes in toward the boat?) they ARE very tender, and they DO really bounce around in a wake.

But you also then have a very high freeboard, and while your boat will roll around, it's unlike that a boat wake will take you out.

As long as the boat is wobbling, the water is still unstable. Hunters of this type settle down quickly when the water settles down.

but I believe you are right; the best way to handle it is to point the bow as much into the wake as you can, because then the smallest width of the boat is hit by the wake. But you'll still bounce around a little. It's really important to secure everything below even on a very calm day because those other boaters just INSIST on going out on a pretty day -- those stinkers!

As for steering, you just have to methodically practice. The same thing that makes the boat tender means you need a light hand with the wheel. Correct your steering before you think you need to. it's really easy to oversteer, and that will result in increasing that sensation of being in unstable water.

If you can't take the bow through, maybe you can turn and take it on the stern. The stern is buoyant. I went through a HUGE wake in Miami on a similar boat a couple of weeks ago. The stern rose up and stayed four feet (yes) up in the air for several seconds, but then settled down very gently. That boat took out a HUGE swell but it wasn't really anything dangerous.

It's going to take more than a wake to knock over a 33' boat.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:43   #5
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

You have it about right--large wakes and seas should be taken at about 40 degrees from the bow. Putting the sails up will dampen the rolling.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:45   #6
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

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Originally Posted by TeddyDiver View Post
Broad stern, flat under body, fin keel, light displacement...
... hard chine ...
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:59   #7
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

" Broad stern, flat under body, fin keel, light displacement..."

EXACTLY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL View Post
So what your saying is that it's the boat and nothing I can do about it? Am I in danger of capsizing or does it just seem that way? It's very difficult to make any headway on a trip when I'm constantly going off course every time a boat passes me.

You can't let yourself go off course every time a boat passes you, but a ten second correction is just ... sailing. It's not like driving a car. On a car, if you have gusts on a bridge you just hold the wheel more tightly (here they close the high Skyway Bridge when the winds get too high).

If it's as unnerving as you say, try steering directly into the wake. As in, perpindicular.

Handling wakes is really about comfort and cabin contents, not safety. Why did you choose the Hunter? It was probably the cabin layout and appearance, right? Everything in a sailboat is a trade-off. For every feature you like, there will be some negative.

How much do you typically heel when you sail? I have found that my Hunter 31' (older design, 1983) goes fastest -- really fast -- heeled at 25. That's a lot of heel, but she goes through the water like greased lightning under the right wind at that degree of heel. I've seen her hold a sustained 7.3k with no current helping us out.

If you can learn to take it, these boats win races. They go fast, and when you have them set right for the conditions, they're going too fast to roll.

I would urge you to find a way to get comfortable with the boat's tender nature, or, if you get caught in a storm, you will be terrified, probably for no reason. Get comfortable with heeling. If it's really a problem, find a really good sailing instructor. Take him or her out on *your* boat and let them teach you how to handle her characteristics.

You'll go out on a Catalina 30' from the same era and find that she sails significantly differently than your boat does. That doesn't make your boat dangerous, but IMO a Hunter 33' is like galloping on a spirited stallion. The solution isn't to try to get her to trot like a little pony -- it's to learn how to ride comfortably at a gallop.

PS -- one hidden advantage of a tender boat is that she responds quickly to whatever you do (right or wrong -- grin).

I would tell you to avoid shallow, confused water, even if the chart says you have enough water. But I'm talking about a lot more than a transitory wake there. I'm talking about waves that build up, then the winds shift, and/or a current from a third direction. The "feedback" you get from the boat will be much harder to "read."
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:02   #8
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
You have it about right--large wakes and seas should be taken at about 40 degrees from the bow. Putting the sails up will dampen the rolling.

On my Hunter I go much more directly into the wake than that, and you're right, even just a heavily reefed main will help tremendously. Sometimes we need to remember that just because it has an engine doesn't make it a motor boat.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:03   #9
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

i was taught 3/4 to 7/8 angle for comfort,not perpendicular. try it. works well. but, if ye like hard steering in a fin keel boat, directly into it..fact.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:04   #10
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
i was taught 3/4 to 7/8 angle for comfort,not perpendicular. try it. works well. but, if ye like hard steering in a fin keel boat, directly into it..fact.

Having done it many times on my fin keel boat, it's not "hard steering" on my boat. It's one correction into the wake, and then a return to course, and that's that. There's precious little bouncing around. There's more to a Hunter than that fin keel.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:15   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames
" Broad stern, flat under body, fin keel, light displacement..."

EXACTLY.

You can't let yourself go off course every time a boat passes you, but a ten second correction is just ... sailing. It's not like driving a car. On a car, if you have gusts on a bridge you just hold the wheel more tightly (here they close the high Skyway Bridge when the winds get too high).

If it's as unnerving as you say, try steering directly into the wake. As in, perpindicular.

Handling wakes is really about comfort and cabin contents, not safety. Why did you choose the Hunter? It was probably the cabin layout and appearance, right? Everything in a sailboat is a trade-off. For every feature you like, there will be some negative.

How much do you typically heel when you sail? I have found that my Hunter 31' (older design, 1983) goes fastest -- really fast -- heeled at 25. That's a lot of heel, but she goes through the water like greased lightning under the right wind at that degree of heel. I've seen her hold a sustained 7.3k with no current helping us out.

If you can learn to take it, these boats win races. They go fast, and when you have them set right for the conditions, they're going too fast to roll.

I would urge you to find a way to get comfortable with the boat's tender nature, or, if you get caught in a storm, you will be terrified, probably for no reason. Get comfortable with heeling. If it's really a problem, find a really good sailing instructor. Take him or her out on *your* boat and let them teach you how to handle her characteristics.

You'll go out on a Catalina 30' from the same era and find that she sails significantly differently than your boat does. That doesn't make your boat dangerous, but IMO a Hunter 33' is like galloping on a spirited stallion. The solution isn't to try to get her to trot like a little pony -- it's to learn how to ride comfortably at a gallop.

PS -- one hidden advantage of a tender boat is that she responds quickly to whatever you do (right or wrong -- grin).

I would tell you to avoid shallow, confused water, even if the chart says you have enough water. But I'm talking about a lot more than a transitory wake there. I'm talking about waves that build up, then the winds shift, and/or a current from a third direction. The "feedback" you get from the boat will be much harder to "read."
Haven't yet gotten down my optimal heel angle yet. It's a very interesting ride altogether and I'm still,learning everyday. I've been out many times when winds pick up to 25-30 knots very quickly and I basically run home with my tail,between my legs, and I'm rocking and rolling the whole way back.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:20   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames

Well, I think you may be worrying a bit too much about the rolling around. I have a Hunter 31', and if you have the older design that I do (big wide stern that slopes in toward the boat?) they ARE very tender, and they DO really bounce around in a wake.

But you also then have a very high freeboard, and while your boat will roll around, it's unlike that a boat wake will take you out.

As long as the boat is wobbling, the water is still unstable. Hunters of this type settle down quickly when the water settles down.

but I believe you are right; the best way to handle it is to point the bow as much into the wake as you can, because then the smallest width of the boat is hit by the wake. But you'll still bounce around a little. It's really important to secure everything below even on a very calm day because those other boaters just INSIST on going out on a pretty day -- those stinkers!

As for steering, you just have to methodically practice. The same thing that makes the boat tender means you need a light hand with the wheel. Correct your steering before you think you need to. it's really easy to oversteer, and that will result in increasing that sensation of being in unstable water.

If you can't take the bow through, maybe you can turn and take it on the stern. The stern is buoyant. I went through a HUGE wake in Miami on a similar boat a couple of weeks ago. The stern rose up and stayed four feet (yes) up in the air for several seconds, but then settled down very gently. That boat took out a HUGE swell but it wasn't really anything dangerous.

It's going to take more than a wake to knock over a 33' boat.
Also, it's the new model so the design is slightly different. What do you recommend I do if I'm sailing along and a powerboat overtakes me from behind? If I point the bow in to the wake then I have to deal with turning a tack/jibe and steering the wake all at the same time. If I do nothing then it hits me abeam and I roll all over. When I let it hit from astern or slightly off my stern it's even worse and I loose all steering.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:20   #13
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

i was talking about my fin/spade ericson,ma'am.
3/4 to 7/8 angle woorks for ALL boats. but,then,you, flamer, have MUCH more experience than do i..lol...so, do what ye will--just trying to make your experience more enjoyable.....is no fun to bash into seas, as you are describing folks should do.
there is no real secret to heavy weather sailing except practice, practice, practice.......
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:24   #14
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

my plan of attack also varies on whether I am motoring or sailing. if you are sailing, you will cut through the wave much easier. highly unlikely you will capsize (I can't imagine a wake or chop that big). I haven't come close on my 22. Although it may feel like it knocked your fillings loose sometimes.

From the stern or stern quarter is best for my boat, but usually I take them at 45 degrees to the bow up the wave and then steer down the back of the wave comfortably.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:38   #15
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Re: Steering Through Rough Water

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Originally Posted by TeddyDiver View Post
Broad stern, flat under body, fin keel, light displacement...
Yup, you could also add:full sections forward. These boats are not the most pleasant when driven into a seaway,they sure seem attracive on the showroom floor though.
As mentioned above,there are always tradeoffs.
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