THE GOOD SEATS

Where your crew sit or stand may af­fect your boat’s safety and per­for­mance.

Boating - - SEAMANSHIP - By Kevin Falvey

Keep­ing crew on the con­stant move is a nor­mal part of many a day sail or cruise. While not needed to that de­gree aboard power­boats, we mo­tor­boat skip­pers should con­sider our crew mov­able to the ex­tent that we can in­crease safety and en­hance per­for­mance.

One of the big­gest rea­sons to move crew is when one or more de­cide they want to sit on the bow of the boat with their legs dan­gling over the side. The at­trac­tion of such a perch is ob­vi­ous. But if they were to fall off the bow of a boat un­der power, even one that’s just idling along in a no-wake zone, chances are al­most 100 per­cent that they will be run over by the boat.

For ref­er­ence, a boat mov­ing at 5 knots (about 6 mph) is mov­ing at 9 feet per sec­ond.

Never al­low crew to ride up on the bow un­less their en­tire body is in­side the boat and in­side any rail­ings. If there are no rail­ings, crew should not be rid­ing on the bow while the boat is un­der­way. I’ll add that many boats now have stern lounges that can be ar­ranged to face aft. Some of these es­sen­tially pro­vide seat­ing on the swim plat­form, which is fine for the sand­bar or cove. But if the mo­tor is run­ning, crew should not be on any such seats.

An­other rea­son to move your crew per­tains to sta­bil­ity. De­pend­ing upon the sea con­di­tions and the size of your boat, too many peo­ple on one side can cause the boat to list dan­ger­ously. Also, boats with fly­ing bridges can have too many peo­ple up top, which may also com­pro­mise sta­bil­ity. The boat can flip, yes, but doesn’t have to for tragedy to strike. If it leans too far, it could dip a gun­wale and scoop a wave. We know our boats, and it’s up to us to err on the side of cau­tion. In­struct crew to take turns rid­ing on the bridge, or take turns on the side with the best view of the frolick­ing por­poise.

As for per­for­mance, mov­ing crew can have ef­fects that range from fine-tun­ing to dra­matic. An ex­am­ple of fine-tun­ing might be ask­ing one per­son to move from port to star­board to counter some wind-in­duced lean, and then to move back again as your course changes. A more dra­matic ex­am­ple of how crew po­si­tion­ing af­fects per­for­mance is en­demic to pon­toon boats but can oc­cur aboard any boat with bow seat­ing, whether that be a bowrider, dual con­sole or cen­ter-con­sole. When crew is en­cour­aged by comfy lounges to all sit in the bow, the stern is raised. Put enough peo­ple in the bow and the boat’s props can have a hard time stay­ing hooked up once on plane. We are re­spon­si­ble for plac­ing crew so this doesn’t hap­pen. As stated above, it can be as sim­ple as hav­ing crew take turns us­ing the “good seats.”

For safety’s sake, and to en­hance the ride qual­ity and per­for­mance of your boat, be con­scious of your crew’s po­si­tions and re­mem­ber to move them if, in your judg­ment, it is nec­es­sary.

Our sail­ing brethren re­fer to crew as mov­able bal­last, need­ing friends and fam­ily aboard to move from one side to the other in or­der to bet­ter bal­ance the boat. In­struct crew to take turns rid­ing on the bridge, or take turns on the side with the best view of the frolick­ing por­poise.

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