The use and abuse of a list­ing boat

The use and abuse of a list­ing boat

Boating - - CONTENTS - By Kevin Falvey

It should be ob­vi­ous, I sup­pose, that a boat run­ning level across its beam will ride bet­ter. When lean­ing to one side — list­ing — a boat is con­tact­ing the water on one of the two ba­si­cally flat hull pan­els in­stead of a sharper V shape.

If ev­ery­one aboard rushes to one side to see the whale, the shore­side man­sion or the cool boat about to pass, bad things can hap­pen.

As a re­sult, a list­ing boat will gen­er­ally ride harder, and wet­ter too, be­cause spray will tend to get thrown ver­ti­cally rather than out to each side.

List­ing also in­duces a turn to the side in which the boat is lean­ing. This, then, re­quires more at­ten­tion to the helm and more phys­i­cal ef­fort, es­pe­cially if the boat is equipped with ca­ble steer­ing or is pow­ered by a tiller­model out­board.

A wrin­kle in­volves boats with flat bot­toms, which have no water-slic­ing V shape to speak of. Way back in the hey­day of the Jersey watermen, it was dis­cov­ered that a list­ing Gar­vey (the penul­ti­mate flat-bot­tomed boat type) pre­sented its chine cor­ner to the water in a way that tended to smooth the ride. There’d still be the steer­ing issue to deal with, but like boats them­selves, tech­niques of seamanship of­ten prove a com­pro­mise of one sort or another.

I’ve seen bay­men in my lo­cal Long Is­land wa­ters load a skiff with bi­valves so that the gun­wales were damn near at the sur­face of the water. This was on calm days with lit­tle boat traf­fic, and by ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als toil­ing for their daily bread. Still, list­ing, even a lit­tle, would not have been good. Dip­ping a rail might have proved tragic.

We recre­ational boaters have to deal with what might be called a “live load” and there­fore need to be at least as care­ful. A small boat — and I term most boats un­der about 35 feet as small — with a ca­pac­ity load of crew aboard presents the op­por­tu­nity for the skip­per to ex­er­cise judg­ment, ex­pe­ri­ence and au­thor­ity. If ev­ery­one aboard rushes to one side to see the whale, the shore­side man­sion or the cool boat about to pass, bad things can hap­pen.

First of all, the boat’s go­ing to want to steer to one side — and there’s a boat, a whale or the shore nearby that must be avoided. Sec­ond, the list­ing boat is go­ing to present your crew with a slanted sur­face on which to stand. Third, the gun­wale on the side of the boat to which ev­ery­one rushes will get lower to the water. Add in an er­rant wave or wake of just the right size and at just the right mo­ment, and all three of the boat’s re­ac­tions to the move­ment of live bal­last can be af­fected dra­mat­i­cally, re­sult­ing in catas­tro­phe. A tragedy of just this sort oc­curred aboard a small tour boat in up­state New York some years ago.

I can’t tell you how to speak to your crew. They are your fam­ily and friends. And no one can imag­ine the in­fi­nite com­bi­na­tions of wind, weather and sit­u­a­tions. What I can say is that good seamanship dic­tates the need to load our boats with care and see that the load re­mains se­cure. That holds true whether the load is a cooler full of ice, bushels of clams, or the peo­ple we care about most.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.