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What are your Marine Weather Limits?-gctid803242

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    What are your Marine Weather Limits?-gctid803242

    I pretty much check both the marine forecast and weather forecast daily. I'm in my third year as a boat owner which is why I watch so keenly. I tend to stay away from big weather days. My only experience (as a boat owner) of anything I would consider bad or rough, was a short trip I did along the Juna De Fuca, coming from Pedder bay to Victoria Harbour during a Gale Force wind warning as forecast by Environment Canada (See Beaufort Scale List on Environment Canada's website HERE). I was a little sketched out at the beginning, because the winds were howling pretty good in the bay. I spoke to one of the dock hands who had gone out to the mouth of the bay check the waters in the skiff. He said it was blowing good out there, some white caps were forming but the wind was a north east wind, sending the waves in the direction of Victoria Harbour. He said if I stuck closer to the shoreline, that I could just surf the waves as I drive and it shouldn't be much of an issue. In the end, he was right. A bit of crashing and bashing around, but not so much that I was concerned.

    This got me to thinking about the wind warning itself. I've been out in a 'Strong Wind Advisory'. and again, nothing I couldn't handle. I started to think that these wind warnings are a bit more for sailboats, than cruisers or power boats....or at least, the 'Strong Wind and Gale Wind' advisories. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that there are other factors to think about before heading out (wind direction, tides, kind of boat you're using, etc) but I've never really had a discussion with a boater about how they approach marine wind weather before heading out, so I thought I'd ask. What are your limits? What is too uncomfortable to you?
    2001 Bayliner Ciera 2455

    It really depends on your local area. I stick my nose out of our harbour. Many days it is way to rough to get out, even though the forecast looks good. I check the buoy reports, and see what the wave heights are like. I base my outings on this more than anything. If it is too rough we stay in the harbour.

    Unless you need to get somewhere, being out in any sort of weather is no fun.
    1987 3818 Hino 175
    "Knotty Girl"
    Prince Rupert B.C.


      I think it depends on the size and style of your boat. I had a 16' Fiberform with an old Merc 50, and even though the seas were calm, I quickly learned what a small craft warning meant. While I did make it back, I almost pitchpoled once, had 2 waves nearly knock over my boat, and arrived back in the harbor with a collection of 3 seat hicks and one large skid mark on my seat.

      So, when looking for a new boat to handle those same waters, I came to what I have now. I have handled Force 7, and she shook it off, but I have little interest in testing any water beyond that. If it happens, I'm sure I would be okay, .....but who in their right mind would ever want to test their life jacket at the expense of their boat?
      "B on D C", is a 1989 2459 Trophy Offshore HT, OMC 5.7L, Cobra OD, Yamaha 15hp kicker. Lots of toys! I'm no mechanic, just a blue water sailer and woodworker who loves deep sea fishing.
      MMSI: 367637220
      HAM: KE7TTR
      TDI tech diver
      BoD Puget Sound Anglers North Olympic Peninsula Chapter


        My general rule is that I won't go out if the sustained winds are forecast above 20kts.

        I have got caught out in much worse -- story time -- one time transiting from Victoria to Bamfield in our prior boat -- 288. Winds hit 35kts at Sooke (unforecasted) and we finally turned into the Sooke harbour to seek shelter in a protected cove overnight. Wind was so strong it caused us to keep dragging anchor so we finally had to find a spot at a private marina that was closed for the night. Winds had died down the next morning between Sooke and Bamfield. Right as we reached Cape Beale the winds were back up to ~25-30 and the swells stacked up to 6' plus -- at the Cape seas get very confused as they bounce off the shore. Had the boat on plane as slow as it would go (about 12kts) and we launched it right out of the water because the wave had stacked up so sharp.

        Turned the corner towards Bamfield and the water quickly died down to nearly flat. 5 minutes after making the turn, the boat overheated as the launch out of the water caused a mussel that had been growing in the raw water intake to dislodge and block the intake flow. Got the kicker fired up and made it the last mile to shore. Had the overheat happened 5 minutes sooner we would have been in major trouble.


          Kids wanted to go to the roller coaster park.. So I brought to us instead... at least that's the story I tell when we get back to the dock and our legs can no longer hold us up....
          Crash Override
          1989 Bayliner 2455
          Ford 351W (5.8l) OMC Cobra
          Mods: Custom pulpit, 8 million candle power of LED lighting, Lowrance Hook 5, Uniden UM380BK VHF w/8' Whip, Custom 3,000lb cable drive winch w/150 cable+rode, Sound system, upgraded sleeping quarters.


            I have missed a lot of fishing tripe out of Seward, AK listening to the weather station, sometimes you need to stick your nose out there and see.
            Pat says: DO-IT-RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

            Bayliner 3870 "ALASKA33)
            Twin 350 GM power
            Located in Seward, AK
            Retired marine surveyor


              I have been out in straits of Juan de fuca taking on green waves in my 26 ft searay for an hour in the same area you speak of. When we entered the harbor the harbor master met us and his comment was "you were out there in that?" Well we kind of got caught in it. It was during the Swiftsure sailboat race and the harbor master said we just brought in 3 demasted sailboats. It was gale force winds

              Me personally I rather enjoyed it as did my kids but the wife was pissed. I really don't know what the winds were or the size of the wave but my 26 ft was completely on the wave with probably still 10 feet up with breakers. Green waves at the top and submarine at the bottom. It was scary enough that I didn't want to turn around and get sideways.

              Pretty much most commercially fabricated boats will take much more than you can. There will be those times that you will get caught in bad weather so learn from it as it comes but don't exceed your abilities.

              My limits are thunderstorms and big mother breakers large swells don't scare me large following waves. Sometimes though it's not worth going depends what the planned trip is.

              By the way the staits can get extremely nasty and I have friends that gave up boating because the Straits scared the bejeebes out of them

              Those same Straits at 26 kts.

              Straits of Juan de fuca august 6th 2015 bayliner conquest

              1989 Avanti 3450 Sunbridge
              twin 454's
              MV Mar-Y-Sol
              1979 Bayliner Conquest 3150 hardtop ocean express.
              Twin chevy 350's inboard
              Ben- Jamin
              spokane Washington


                What are your Marine Weather Limits?

                This is a serious question and unfortunately requires a long answer. What my limits are are likely irrelevant to yours. You may be far more experience than me or far less? So if you are asking for the reason to defining what you and your vessel can handle you need to answer, to yourself, some questions.

                I've boated for over 50 years, 29 of them commercial fishing from the Washington boarder to the Alaska boarder. I've done this with three different sized salmon trollers. Every one of those vessels responded differently in poor weather with there various states of loading. I have also owned four pleasure boats and each of them also handled differently in the various weather. I presently own a Bayliner 3870 for a bit over a year. I am still learning what kind of weather she can handle while error-ring heavy on the side of caution. I hope I never find out what she and I can't handle!

                So in considering what weather is 'your' personal limit here are a few questions on variables you should consider:

                - What is the design of your boat. I've seen a small boat handle a particular sea condition far better than a vessel almost twice it's size. The sea conditions can make major differences. Bigger is not always better but usually is.

                - How is your vessel stowed? What is the state the fuel and water tanks are in? Full is best, but if not fuel, empty may be the next best option if for some reason you MUST travel in poor weather. Surface movement of liquid in any tank can be a major concern in poor weather. All gear must be secured and heavy stuff as low as possible in the vessel.

                - What is your skill and experience as the skipper and the same question for those on board as passengers or crew?

                - What is the mechanical condition of your vessel? You can be doing just fine in poor weather but what happens if you lose an engine, or both, in the case of many sport vessels? Put your vessel in neutral in a moderate sea to find out how she handles in that condition. It is usually an eye opener.

                - How much dirt has accumulated in your fuel tanks since they were last cleaned? Have they ever been cleaned? As the years go by too much dirt comes in with the fuel. It settles in the bottom of the tank(s). It can then be mixed with the fuel in heavy seas with the ability to plug the fuel filters.

                - Do you know the 'local' conditions of where you physically are or will be boating in? Some areas are forgiving, some aren't! Long before finding yourself in trouble you should speak with folks that 'know' the areas you will be cruising in. The experienced folks 'know' the key trouble spots to be avoided in the various directions and conditions the weather and tide. They usually have gained this knowledge by talking with other experienced folks or the result of terrifying personal experiences. I've found that most are willing to share their knowledge if approached in the right manner.

                - Consider why you are going out or why you are leaving the anchorage if already away on a trip? One of my favorite saying on this is 'God hates a coward, but punishes a fool'. I have often asked myself when considering leaving an anchorage in poor weather, 'Am I being brave here or foolish?'

                - Is the weather building or slacking and at least question if the forecast appears to be accurate?

                - What is state of the tide? When is the next change? Will it run with the wind and somewhat 'lay' the seas down or against it? Sometimes you are doing OK then the tide changes and you are in big trouble as the waves build and shorten from the current running into the wind.

                - There are likely a number of other variables that I have forgotten or have still to learn?

                And after everything is said and done, if you are a pleasure boater, and not a commercial boater, this whole process is supposed to by a 'pleasure.' Always strive to keep it that way wherever possible. I know some folks get pleasure out of risking their lives and those that may need to rescue them. For those folks my last saying I live by is - 'Maturity is learning from others mistake so you don't need to make them yourself.'

                Take small steps while learning the characteristics of your vessel and your personal skill level.

                Last, all but two of my workmates and friends that were lost at sea were commercial fishermen that fished the open ocean. They all lost their life in the Gulf of Georgia. What many 'outside' commercial fishermen referred to as a 'mill pond.' Weather they would seek shelter and anchor up in 'outside' they ran through in the 'mill pond.' My other two friends that lost their lives had the transom of their vessel fall off in heavy weather, also in the 'mill pond'. Mill pond indeed!

                Steadfast 70 - John
                16' lap straight with B&S inboard, my 1st commercial fishing adventure
                17' run about with original 80ph Volvo, fun with some exploration of the coast
                25' Chris Craft - lots of fun exploring further north on the BC coast
                32' wood commercial salmon troller - ice boat, hard work & fun
                41' wood commercial salmon troller - ice boat, hard work & fun
                38' Permaglass commercial salmon troller - freezer boat, harder work & fun
                1987 3870 with 175 Hinos - back to mostly fun again & exploration


                  My limit depends on who is with me.

                  I know my boat will take way more than most people will.


                  My motto as a youngster was

                  "calm water is for scotch and bathtubs"
                  Boatless at this time

                  A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including their life."


                    This is a most excellent movie a true story about a coastguard rescue. It might give you a different perspective about the ocean.

                    I think its still on Netflix

                    Here is the trailer

                    The points made so far a good ones. We should always be safe and know our limits and not do stupid stuff. Sometimes it just happens and things close in on you best be prepared if you can.
                    1989 Avanti 3450 Sunbridge
                    twin 454's
                    MV Mar-Y-Sol
                    1979 Bayliner Conquest 3150 hardtop ocean express.
                    Twin chevy 350's inboard
                    Ben- Jamin
                    spokane Washington


                      As has been stated already most boats will handle bigger seas than we reliase while everything is working as it should the trouble happens when it goes wroung and it's the little things that come loose / something shifts breaking something you take a big wave on the nose and you don't notice the 20year latch on the hatch just broke next wave is now in cabin bilge pump doing it's best to empty I've hepled a few people over the years in various seas and it's always been something you wouldn't think of that's got them into trouble I know the water's I boat in and have a 20knot rule I expand on that 20knot rule depending on forecast / tide etc but as stated by others try floating around with engine off in rough conditions it's an eye opener.


                        Burying the bow

                        Joon, Kathy, Jaden & Tristan
                        Uniflite 42 AC, DD 671N
                        93 3058 sold
                        92 2855 (day boat)
                        91 Fourwinns 205 (lake boat)
                        Longbranch WA
                        Life is Good


                          More important than the size of the wind waves, is the direction.

                          We can take a serious wave from the bow. A little less astern, and a lot less to the beam.

                          Other than that its size. we go out in seas regularly in the 4788 that we would not consider in the 2859

                          An extra 20', and 25,000 pounds makes a heck of a difference

                          KEVIN SANDERS
                          4788 DOS PECES - SEWARD ALASKA - LA PAZ BCS MEXICO

                          Whats the weather like on the boat

                          Where am I right now?


                            I listen to all the reports and then go have a look. Last summer we were leaving False Creek (Vancouver, BC) for Ganges. For you eastern folks, we had to cross that gap between Vancouver Island and the mainland named Georgia Straight that's about 20-25 miles across. As we left, with the intent of going through Porlier Pass. The run across English Bay was fine, a little choppy, but not enough to slow down from our normal 25kn cruise. We were in our "sale pending" 1980 Bayliner 2950 Encounter Sunbridge that we bought in 1987. A bit later things built up such that I began to slow down, but still not any issue. The waves kept building and were steep enough that I was better off continuing to go straight into them rather that try to turn around. Others traveling with us had the same opinion so for the next three hours the boats got a thorough saltwater wash down. We ended up going through Gabriola Pass, miles north of our plan.

                            I'm not sure how much that played into the Admiral giving me the go ahead for a larger boat, but I'm thinking there were other reasons too.

                            In a lifetime of boating, I've called in to miss work one time because of weather. I'm not one that thinks I have to risk everything to be somewhere, I would rather get up at zero dark thirty to get back. And have.
                            P/C Pete
                            Edmonds Yacht Club (Commodore 1993)
                            1988 3818 "GLAUBEN”
                            Hino EH700 175 Onan MDKD Genset
                            MMSI 367770440


                              I have one weather limit for sure and that is thunderstorms. If there are thunderstorms around I will generally stay in port. Now, I have been caught out in them 3 or 4 times during my boating career. Of course on my last boat a 99 3055 I did have radar so I had a much better handle on storms as I had it set up to pick up rain. I could dodge or sometimes run around the fringe of a storm.

                              As to rough waters I would say that my limit is 16' waves. I say that because I had to come home from Put in Bay Ohio the Memorial Day weekend back in 1997. At that time I owned a 1996 2855 Ciera Sunbridge. She was a fantastic boat and to this day she was the best rough water boat I have ever owned. The winds that day were out of the northeast, definitely not a good direction if you are out one Lake Erie. I had an emergency at home that needed my attention so I decided to head home to Bolles Harbor about a 35 mile run across the lake. I turned on the VHF to one of the weather channels. They said there was a small craft advisory with gale force winds and waves up to 20'. I saw several larger boats leaving so I thought I would just follow one of them.

                              It seemed like a good idea at the time. I headed out but all the larger boats turned south towards Ohios northern coast. I was out there all alone. Fortunately with the winds from the N/E I had them at my stern. With one hand on the wheel and the other on the throttle I headed towards home. I kept checking the weather. They announced sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts to 55 knots. As I moved away from the islands out into the open waters of the lake the waves got bigger and bigger. I decided to throttle up and down as needed but keeping my speed so that I was travelling faster than the waves.

                              As I climbed up the back side of one wave I would throttle up so that I could climb the wave. The 454 Bravo III system got a workout that day. Once I crested a wave I would throttle back as I slid down the forward side of the wave. I was making pretty good headway. There was a few times I did not throttle back quickly enough and I would bury the bow in the back side of the next wave and green water washed over the whole boat. As I was making my way home at the time I really was not scared. I felt I had the skills to do the job and the boat was handling the conditions wonderfully. The normally 1 hour trip took me 3 1/2 hours.

                              As I got closer to Bolles Harbor the waves started to get lower. Still rough but not the 16 footers I was running through in the open waters of the lake. I finally made it to the entrance to Bolles Harbor. Then I cruised the rest of the way to my marina. The guy working the marine asked me where had I come from. When I told him Put in Bay he was amazed that I could have made that trip.

                              While crossing the lake I kept an eye on my depth sounder and most of the time the difference in depth from the top of the wave to the bottom was 16'. As with any rough weather you get some waves smaller than the rest and a few, some would call them rouge waves that are way bigger than others. One wave I crossed over according to my depth sounder was 22' high and I had several others that read 20'.

                              Looking back on it I do not think that I would want to do that again. But, at the time I had a boat that could handle it and had the power necessary for me to make headway travelling with the waves.

                              Fast forward to today. I currently have a 1981 30' Carver 3007 Aft Cabin. I don't think that this boat could handle those conditions as well as my 2855 did. In fact my 2855 was a better rough water boat than my 99 3055 was. I had the 3055 out in 12's a couple of times and it did OK. Last season I made a trip to Middle Bass Island in the Carver in 6' rollers taken off the forward port quarter. I ran just above hull speed and it took me 4 1/2 hours to get there. Being a sedan I am pretty sure that anything more than 8' I would not want to be upstairs. There is a lot more motion up there. In fact last year I made the trip standing as it was to uncomfortable to take those wave sitting down.

                              So, I guess if I have a limit it would be what I experienced on Lake Erie that day. Of course each boat handles rough waters differently, and by that I mean brand, hull type etc.
                              Rick Grew

                              2022 Stingray 182 SC

                              2004 Past Commodore
                              West River Yacht & Cruising Club