Find­ing the groove of the mo­ment.

Boating - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Falvey

As I swung the wheel and changed course, my buddy John switched po­si­tions. He’d been stand­ing on the port side of the con­sole, his right hand on the T-top’s pipework and a Snap­ple in his left. Now, word­lessly, and with no prompt­ing from me, he’d moved to the star­board-side, where he now held on with his left hand and sipped iced tea from his right. A true switch-hit­ter.

He’d barely com­pleted the move be­fore a shot of spray came aboard, dap­pling the port side of the con­sole.

He’d barely com­pleted the move be­fore a shot of spray came aboard, dap­pling the port side of the con­sole. John knew that as the boat swung beamto the wind, the boat would ship spray ev­ery few waves, given the bois­ter­ous chop in which we were run­ning.

“John” is Capt. John Ra­guso, who has more sea miles un­der his boats than most, in­clud­ing yours truly. Keep­ing your crew safe is the first mea­sure of good sea­man­ship, but keep­ing your crew com­fort­able is im­por­tant too. Even though I am a firm be­liever in the prin­ci­ple that states those who don’t want to get wet oc­ca­sion­ally should choose a dif­fer­ent sport than boat­ing, run­ning your boat so as to pro­vide as dry a ride as pos­si­ble is one mark of good sea­man­ship.

First of all, be aware of where peo­ple choose to be aboard your boat. Keep­ing them dry might be as sim­ple as ask­ing them to move. Most peo­ple aboard for the day don’t come with Capt. John’s level of self-suf­fi­ciency. It’s your job to move them as your head­ing changes, the wind or tide shifts, or sea con­di­tions change.

Of course, of­ten you have to take ac­tion to stay drier. Slow­ing down can help keep you dry in a head wind, pro­vided the waves and cur­rent are such that you can run slow enough to main­tain head­way and con­trol. On the other hand, go­ing slow means “break­ing” water farther for­ward on the hull, and can in­crease the chances of water that’s be­ing thrown up get­ting blown aboard. So, other times it pays to go faster or trim out the drives a bit to raise the bow higher. Do­ing ei­ther causes water to break farther aft along hull, de­creas­ing the chances of water blow­ing aboard. How­ever, too much trim or too much speed might re­sult in pound­ing or por­pois­ing. On many oc­ca­sions, the choice is not be­tween tun­ing the boat for a com­fort­able ride or an un­com­fort­able one, but rather bal­anc­ing the lev­els of sev­eral causes of dis­com­fort against the ex­pe­ri­ence of the crew you have aboard, the abil­i­ties of the boat, and the amount of time for which you need to en­dure the dis­com­fort.

In short, it might prove most ben­e­fi­cial to run so you have achieved, if not a truly dry ride, at least a drier ride, and one that doesn’t come at the ex­pense of too much slap­ping or too much Sea World be­hav­ior from your boat.

Keep­ing the boat level across the beam en­sures it will throw equal amounts of water to each side. The con­verse of this is that a boat will throw more spray on the side that is most im­mersed. Use this to your ad­van­tage by trim­ming the boat — ei­ther with trim tabs, en­gine/drive trim or by shift­ing weight and crew — so it is higher on the wind­ward side. Do­ing so helps keep more spray out, though it will re­quire more con­cen­tra­tion and ef­fort to hold your head­ing. It’s a great tech­nique, es­pe­cially when run­ning on one of the wettest head­ings of all: wind and sea strik­ing your boat on the tran­som cor­ner.

All of this ad­vice is to be taken in mea­sure against the myr­iad vari­ables you, as skip­per, face on any given day on the water. Im­ple­ment them in­cre­men­tally un­til you find the groove of the mo­ment.

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