WHEN THE GO­ING GETS ROUGH

PRO CAP­TAINS SHARE AD­VICE ON WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE UN­AVOID­ABLY CAUGHT IN ROUGH CON­DI­TIONS

Soundings - - Contents - BY LOUISA BECK­ETT

There are two types of boaters: Those who’ve been caught in rough weather, and those who will. Three pro­fes­sional cap­tains share boathandling tips.

Capt. Todd Anderson was skip­per­ing a 55- foot Ocean from Marsh Har­bour in the Ba­hamas across the Gulf Stream. He was head­ing for Hills­boro In­let in South Florida when the squall line came his way. “It was slick calm— I mean it was bath­tub calm,” he says. “We were prob­a­bly about 60 or 70 miles off of Hills­boro In­let, and we started to see the cloud tops off in the dis­tance, and then I started hear­ing re­ports on the ra­dio of se­vere weather com­ing. We went ahead and kept charg­ing, try­ing to get to some pro­tec­tion.”

Anderson is no novice at the helm. He’s a pro­fes­sional cap­tain who has worked for Hat­teras Yachts, Jar­rett Bay, HMY and Blue­wa­ter Yacht Sales, as well as for pri­vate boat own­ers. Even still, that storm caught him off guard. “It went from slick calm to about 12-foot right on the nose,” he says. “It was blow­ing 50 knots or more.” He tried tack­ing back and forth, so as not to go head-on into the steep seas. “This was an older boat, and there was some debris in the fuel tanks,” he says. “We lost an engine.”

About 30 min­utes later, the squall line had passed and Anderson was safely in Hills­boro In­let—with dam­age to be re­paired and the type of story that many boaters share about un­avoid­ably get­ting caught in rough con­di­tions. Yes, it hap­pens to the pros too, and they have tons of real-world ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind their ad­vice for bat­tling those types of seas.

For starters, know what’s most likely to land you in rough seas in the first place. Try­ing to stick to a planned cruis­ing itin­er­ary, as Anderson did, or brav­ing rough weather dur­ing a fish­ing tour­na­ment, are com­mon prac­tices among boaters who end up deal­ing with lousy con­di­tions off­shore.

In rough seas, speed, di­rec­tion and trim be­come more crit­i­cal.

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