Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Going Offshore, and Making it Back

 Note: use web version view to see videos...

Freedom Boat Club requires additional training for members who want to go offshore, with emphasis on how to navigate heavy seas. The FBC training-checklist also requires instruction on how to run an "inlet."

In our area, we have rivers and sounds opening to the ocean, but we don't have any man-made inlets as Florida does. An inlet is a narrow opening in the coast in which you might find an outrushing tide encountering an incoming swell lifted by an onshore breeze and shoaling. When this happens, the waves pile up closer together; the peaks get higher and the troughs get deeper. Our river and sound entrances DO experience this phenomenon, but the effects are spread out across a longer and wider area than a Florida inlet.

Videos produced by YouTubers at Florida's Haulover Inlet show the hazards of running an inlet and point out that speed and boat loading are critical to avoid "stuffing" the bow. (Burying the front of the boat under a wave and taking on massive amounts of water in an instant).  

This video is the perfect visual training aid, as the captain of this vessel stuffs her hard at about 1:43.

Taking heavy seas over the bow instantly reduces a boat's stability, and makes it prone to capsizing right. now. Before you can get your vest on. Unless your boat is self-bailing, that blue water coming over the bow has nowhere to go but into the bilge, so the size and condition of your bilge pumps might be important. 

While the danger-area of this inlet is a short stretch, imagine being out in the open ocean with heavy seas, and miles to go before you sleep. Taking one wave over the bow makes your boat much more susceptible to another, and things can go south very quickly. In any situation involving rough seas, putting on life preservers might preserve your life. 

Here's another great resource-video for those headed out into the deep blue sea. This video is an excellent point of departure for offshore training, with perhaps the most salient point being that the number one piece of safety equipment on your boat is that brain between your ears...

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