Pointy End First?
In your 2015 BoatU.S. Guide To Trailering you said, “It’s best to take an incoming sea to the port or starboard side, just aft of the bow, rather than dead
on.” I’m new to boating and still learning my way around the waters, and I’ve
been doing the opposite of what you recommend. I’ve always handled waves
created by big boats by turning my 21-foot Proline head on to a big wake.
Would you mind explaining this concept? Marlon Mejia
TOM NEALE: Marlon, what you’re doing isn’t so bad, and many people take waves
head-on because taking them on the beam or too far aft of the bow can capsize you,
depending on the size of the boat and the waves. But it’s usually better to turn into
them, but not dead straight into them. Let them hit your boat just a little to either
side of the prow. If they hit you directly on the bow, there’s greater likelihood of the
bow cutting under, the wave allowing it to wash over the bow, perhaps into the boat.
If they hit your boat just aft of the fine point of the bow, you’ll probably have a drier
ride and less likelihood of the bow plowing under.
But when handling a boat, you often have to vary your tactics for different circumstances. These could include steepness of waves, separation between wave crests,
wind, the boat itself, loading, and other
factors. Seldom is any one tactic always
the best method in all conditions because
things change so much. For example,
if the wave coming at you is too high,
there could even be the risk of flipping,
depending on how you handle it. And
then there are the multiple wakes on a
busy weekend coming at you from many
different directions. We really have to
watch what’s happening and react to the
I admire your efforts to learn these
things. Practice and experience should
make all this easier and more intuitive.
Get the feel of meeting different waves in
different circumstances to help you find
what works best. It’s best to begin learning in smaller waves and safe conditions.
My Compass Points To Empty
My 1985 Whaler Outrage has had four
sets of motors, but only one compass.
And it’s low tide in the compass all of
the sudden. The fluid inside is slowly
dissipating. Do I need a new compass?
Cape May, NJ
TOM NEALE: You’ve got a great boat
and it’s good to keep it well equipped.
And there’s nothing like a good compass.
Normally, you can repair that problem.
Compasses will sometimes leak out their
fluid, particularly when older. The fluid
may leak slowly past a seal in the filling
plug or elsewhere. Unless the compass
body or dome is cracked, a refill will usually fix it up. If there’s a crack, it will have
to be sealed.
Examine your compass closely. Often
there’s a plug in the base which you can
unscrew to add the new fluid. Go online
to the manufacturer’s site where you
can usually download the manual for
the compass, or at least get their phone
Only use fluid recommended by the
manufacturer. Of course, manufacturers
Practical Boater ASK THE EXPERTS
Edited by Tom Neale