What Should You Do When Operating a Boat in Large Waves & High Wind?

Rate this post

Last Updated on April 22, 2019 by Bill Lewandowski

Operating boats in rough seas is one of the scariest things you can encounter as a new captain. If you are revising for a Boat Ed or Quizlet type test and want to know the answer to the question “what should you do when operating a boat in large waves and high wind” then the short response is below followed by some rough water boating tips.

When operating a boat in large waves and high wind you should direct the boat head-on or at a slight angle into the waves whilst reducing your speed. Don’t approach large waves at the beam of your boat, as this can lead to a capsize.

Now let’s get into a little more detail about why this should be the case, and how you should best to do it in order to keep yourself safe in large waves and high winds.

How to operate a boat in rough seas

Guidelines and safety advice recommend that you don’t approach waves in a parallel position to your beam. If you do so, a breaking wave of 30% your boat’s length could capsize you with a direct hit.

Sailboats can recover from this type of large wave hit, but for powerboats it can be a lot more dangerous.

  1. Try to stay away from large waves: and by large, that means how relative the size of the wave is to your boat.
  2. Never take a wave on your boat’s beam: the best way is to take them at a slight angle to the bow as this reduce the chances of your boat getting pounded and diving into the wave.
  3. Don’t get caught up in breaking waves: do everything you can to avoid breaking waves completely.

Here’s a great graphic from the Royal Yachting Association of the United Kingdom with their advice on what you should do when operating a boat on large waves and high wind situations.

How to drive a boat upwind (image copyright: RYA.org.uk).

Tips for rough water boating

High winds, rough water, are a dangerous mix, even for the most experienced of sailors. Many a boater with thousands of hours of skippering has been taken by surprise.

And don’t think it’s something that only happens when there’s bad weather and wind. Even on a hot summer’s day, a storm can come out of nowhere with the right mix of heat and high-pressure.

To help you keep on step ahead of nature, I’ve compiled a few tips below to help you handle rough water boating – above all though, don’t take any risks and always have 100% attention on the weather forecasts.

Boats in rough seas are a killer, and for a beginner, it’s easy to panic and end up making the wrong decision.

  1. Check the weather forecast before you set out.
  2. Calculate the wind knots to give you an idea on how big the swells could get.
  3. Wear the right weather clothing and personal flotation devices (PFDs).
  4. Keep your speed down and maintain your speed.
  5. Keep your navigation lights switched on to aid visibility.
  6. Switch off any electrics if lightening starts to come down and don’t touch metals.
  7. Always have a boat safety and emergency kit on boat.
  8. Always ensure you have enough fuel on board to cover all eventualities.
  9. Change your boat’s course to head towards calmer waters.

Boats in rough seas – example videos

I trawled though YouTube looking for examples of boats in rough seas so you can see just how dangerous this can be. Rough water boating is scary as you can see from the clips below.

#1: Boat tips for rough water and large waves

#2: Incredible boats in rough weather compilation

#3: Rough water boating with some massive waves

What type of planing hull handles rough water the best?

In my personal opinion, I’ve experienced boats in rough seas perform best when they are the “twin hull” type as they can handle chop and moderate swells really well.

I believe this is down to how the boat lands back onto the rough waves, as air gets trapped between both hulls, acting like a cushion when the boat drops down onto large waves and rough water.

The last word…

If you have come to this website to simply get a quick answer to a boat safety exam and test, then I hope it’s helped you out.

But! Please don’t just skim read for an answer as this topic is one of the most essential you can learn inside and out if you are planning for taking a boat out to sea.

I don’t advocate cheating. I do advocate safe seamanship, safety, and caution.

You are viewing this post: What Should You Do When Operating a Boat in Large Waves & High Wind?. Information curated and compiled by Kayaknv.com along with other related topics.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here