Thanks for your feature on rogue waves (April issue and on www.yachtingworld. com). I was on board a yacht in the Bass Strait one night 30 years ago when the masthead light 60ft above the deck disappeared into the trough of a wave that picked the whole boat up and dumped it back down.
It was a 14-tonne steel boat and we suffered serious damage as the wave went over the top. I think a lesser boat would have imploded while underwater and gone straight down with all hands.
The wave was much larger than all the others; it was racing across the ocean and hit us on the beam, maybe 20-30° further aft than the rest of the waves.
I’d call it a rogue, although the first description on board as we came out the back of it was a bit more colourful.
Leaving Cape Town in May 2010 we had 30 to 35-knot south-westerlies. Waves came in groups of four followed by giant peaks that came at serious speed. We saw 600ft tankers just disappear in the troughs of the big ones. I was a changed man after witnessing that.
I think rogue waves are created by (many) multiple waves which coincide and build to a height much large than the average waves in surrounding water. You can see it in a small way looking at a rough swell and see occasional waves which are much larger than the normal ones.
Rogues would have much greater volume and the speed can be explained by the angle of incidence of the waves. If you bring two rulers together at a slight angle, the rulers move slowly but see how fast the incidence between them travels. Lessen the angle and the incidence speed becomes more extreme.
I thought rogue waves were a myth until I was hit by a 30ft wave off Cape Fear. The sea state was only 8-10ft. I could feel the water dropping the moment before the solo monster rolled through. It hit abeam.
It was travelling so fast the boat didn’t have time to roll, it barely made 30°.
I was working on a cargo vessel 25 years ago and met 16m waves in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We often had a few rough waves, but some were bigger.
But I think the waves in Biscay can be worse even when they are smaller.
All clewed up
Thanks for Skip Novak’s article on your website about storm sails. I’m due a new main and, guess what, it’s now definitely getting four reefs!
Just a thought: the clew needs some extra consideration. There could be a need for a cheek block on the boom for that rare occasion. All the blocks at the