Encountering Waves – How To, with Captain Bob Jones

Driving your Riviera on a calm harbour or bay is relatively simple. You select the speed appropriate for your needs and the conditions – other boats, other people using the waterway – and relax.

But remember that, at planing speed, things can change rapidly. Debris in the water, another boat appearing unexpectedly, wash from another large boat can all upset the driving conditions and spell danger.

When you head out beyond the safety of the harbour, you will encounter waves. Rivieras are designed for the rugged conditions around Australia’s coastline and can almost certainly handle more difficult conditions than their owners ever wish to encounter. But it is up to the skipper to develop the skills needed to handle wave conditions.

The first factor is simply speed. The faster you travel, the quicker the waves come upon you. And no two waves are ever the same. In any group of waves, there will be some that are smaller than average and one that may be up to twice average height. And you probably won’t know how big that wave is until it is virtually upon you.

And remember that, for every large wave, there is almost certainly a deep trough following behind and you will not see it until you are falling into it.

Safe drivers slow down. Build in a margin of safety. Taking five knots off your speed when conditions build up will not only make for a safer passage but it will be more comfortable for you and your crew.

Learning to drive a planing boat in wave conditions is a learned skill, and there is no substitute for practice. Take it easy and learn how to read the waves and adjust the throttle to suit conditions.

In future editions, we will discuss reading waves as well as driving in head seas and following seas.



Click to enlarge image: Captain Bob Jones.

Captain Bob Jones.