the Feel of your Boat
by Tom Neale
This is a continuation of Tom's Tips from his section of
web site. Go to his section there for many more tips on this
subject and others.
1. Learn your boats pivot points. Wind blowing your
boat from aft the bow will tend to turn it differently depending
upon the angle of the wind and the particular characteristics
of your boat. For example, if your boat has a lot of windage
forward, a gust from 45 degrees will exert a major influence
on the bow. If most of the windage is aft, that same gust
will exert less of an influence on the bow, although still
affecting the boat.
2. Study and learn from special circumstances. For example,
a light powerboat with a high light bow, when breaking over
a high wave in a storm, may be suddenly blown up or sideways
by the wind, as the wind hits that bow. If the helms person
isnt expecting this and ready to handle it, the results
could be dangerous. Other special circumstances include running
before the waves and high winds in any kind of sea. Learn
slowly in less severe conditions so that youre prepared
for the bad times.
3. Talk to others who have the same type of boat. Learn from
4. Learn the use of spring lines. Different boats behave
differently with spring lines. Practice with your boat, first
when there is no wind or current and then when there is.
5. Before docking asses the potential effect of current and
wind on your boat as you pull in. It isnt enough to
know that the current is generally running in one direction.
Often there are eddies around a dock or shoreline that can
be quite a surprise if you arent aware of them in advance.
6. Especially on smaller powerboats, the distribution of
people aboard may have a significant effect on ride. This
may become more important during bad weather. For example,
it normally enhances performance to have weight down low rather
than on a fly bridge. Or, when running before the seas, your
boat may perform better if most of the passengers are aft
rather than forward. Experiment with the effects of passenger
distribution on your boat, to learn what works best under