Rough Water Tips from David Swendseid
Different types of rough water
Swendseid purports that there are various types of rough water scenarios. For example, navigating in 4m wave swells is categorically different to climbing the faces of compressed waves, which in turn is different to running on roller waves generated by large vessels.
There is the 1m high wind generated chops and boat traffic chops such as cross wake that are usually limited to small areas, as well as reflected waves, which are basically waves generated by the waves crashing on bluffs or vertical walls.
Identifying the scenarios you could run on depends heavily on experience. Some, you may be able to ‘quarter’ or ‘chop’. Some, you simply cannot and will be forced to run the vertical rising faces. There may also be situations where you are running with or against the direction of the waves, of which are two strikingly different scenarios.
Life jackets and flotation devices
Above all, safety is always first and that means life jackets and flotation devices. Full life jackets are highly recommended on fast runs or in seriously rough water. The submerged and deploy air chamber inflatable types have been known to fail before.
Besides life jackets, always make use of floatable seat cushions. Flotation devices are useful when things go wrong when you are in the water where more than one person is in life threatening situations. They can also be used to provide a higher seating position for the driver to get a good view of what is ahead when encountering big waves.
Pre-launch safety checks
Swendseid rigs his bass boats differently to the average professional bass angler. He stresses the importance of pre-launch safety checks. It is imperative that you secure all your items such as batteries, tackle, electronics and etc., to prevent them from vibrating and breaking when you are on long runs on choppy water.
As a case in point, Allison bass boats are built with dedicated cavities to house batteries that can be bolted down securely. From a safety point of view, things can get ugly if a battery breaks free from an unsecured tray when the boat is running. A loose battery can easily blow a hole in the storage deck and cause substantial damages in the boat.
If you make long runs in rough water with waves 1m high or more regularly, invest in a hull that directs water well. Swendseid currently runs an Allison BasSport Pro XB-21 which is purported to be the best in the class after having fished and setup many other bass boats.
The XB-21 has the longest keel in its class. A longer keel bridges and breaks up water better. The XB-21 also has a steeper padded v-hull angle. This allows the bottom of the boat to slice through waves better than most standard v-hulls which minimize pounding effects.
While most bass boats have a 4-bolt pattern for their transom, jackplate and outboard motor, the XB-21 has a 6-bolt pattern. Driving fast on rough river conditions generates high loads as well as fatigue that causes bolt failures that lead to outboard detachments.
To be continued…
We rode and climbed waves and swells on the Allison BasSport Pro XB-21 bass boat