All water vessels leave a wake trail, and in some cases, boaters may want or need to cross over one of these trails. Learning how to cross over a wake in a safe manner is crucial for a smooth experience. So, we’ve put together a list of tips you need for crossing over another vessel’s wake safely, to avoid rocking the boat and jostling the passengers or worse.
So, hop on board, and let us teach you how to safely cross over.
Errors To Avoid:
- Lack of Communication
- Being Too Close
- Going Too Fast
- Approaching at the Wrong Angle
To avoid making the mistakes listed above, you should always follow proper etiquette when crossing over another vessel’s wake.
First, Alert Your Passengers and Other Vessels
Everyone aboard your boat should be told before you begin crossing over. You can use a conventional announcement, or even develop some sort of code with your team and/or passengers.
Part of alerting your passengers is to make sure they are seated safely. Bow seating is not recommended, especially when we’re talking about an agitated sea. It doesn’t offer the necessary stability, and any movement could throw your passengers. Make sure your guests are not seated forward of the helm; sitting in the back will keep them secure, as security while boating is non-negotiable.
Notifying another vessel when you’re overtaking their wake follows principles that are similar to those of cars. For example, you use blinkers to signal turning or lane changing, and you wave when someone lets you merge. With boating, you can use a VHF Radio to let the other boat know what you’re doing. You can also flash them to let them know what’s going on. Regardless of your method, courtesy goes a long way on the water.
Second, Fall Back
Crossing over a wake might seem scary at first, but there is a way to do it both safely and easily. Make sure that you’re far enough from any vessel that might produce a wake; the further away, the smaller the wake. Always make sure there’s a visible distance before making any move. Being too close to a boat leaves room for a wake that might be too big to cross.
Third, Let Go of the Throttle
Attention to speed is vital when we’re talking about crossing wakes. That is because a slower movement can help minimize the effect of the wake on your boat. Slowing down can help lift the bow up and thus reduce the power of the waves. Throttle back to the minimum speed to ensure that crossing the wake won’t become an unpleasant experience.
Fourth, Approach at the Correct Angle
Turning into the wake is not the best approach. The bow should always point to the wake at an angle of 35-40 degrees. By heading parallel to the other vessel, you lead your boat in the correct position to avoid any impact. Cross the wave diagonally and slide over the crest to ensure that the impact won’t be too much to handle.
Overtake the Wake
Keeping a safe distance is crucial for overtaking. Choose your side for the pass-on, start turning towards that side and cross the wake at an angle between 45 and 90 degrees.
Don’t hurry; try to maintain a constant speed until the wave is reached. Then slowly decrease your speed and cross the wake.
Right Angle Crossing
Depending on the size of the wake, you have two options: large wakes will make you cross them at a smaller speed and at the right angles; smaller wakes call for more prudence in crossing. Either way, a course that is too parallel to the wake will only make your boat change direction.
It happens that sometimes you come at another vessel head-on. If this is the case, you can cross over in one of two ways. Similar to overtaking, the first approach involves slowing your boat down and turning into the wake. This also involves the right angles.
The second method involves crossing without a speed decrease. If you prefer to cross this way, make sure you’re in open water. When reaching the wake, make sure you turn away from it. This will allow you to run almost parallel to it. When the surface motion is the right angle to the course of your boat, gently steer up and over the waves.
Bonus Tip: Return the Vessel to Plane
Now that everything has passed and you’ve crossed the wake, it’s safe to accelerate again. Re-accelerating allows you to return the boat to plane. You’ve made it!
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Crossing over wakes can and should be done safely, for everyone’s sake. Even if it might sound like a scary thing to do, following some simple procedures can help you sail smoothly. This article comprised a few of the elements you need for greater confidence at the helm.