Originally Posted by Cookee
And how do you Fall back when driving into breaking surf with a big headwind?
For reference what is your background - not knocking you or anything but with only four posts I need to know who I'm taking advice from!
I have around 8500 hours of driving small boats (5m -25m) in all sea conditions and have trained special forces, military and fast rescue drivers, I was also instrumental in founding a military and professional driver school in the UK.
I have chased Pirates and terrorist from places such as the Bay of Bengal, Yemen, Somalia, and South America at speeds from 20knot to 75knots. I also design and manufacture military RIBs in Asia.
The reason I say it was an accident waiting to happen is, If you look at the video there was some better sheltered water to his Stbd stern and I guess this is where he had started from.
It looks as if he poked his nose out into a head sea with a large breaking wave and a frequency of about two or just over boat lengths.
This is a seriously bad situation as the wave frequency is too long to allow the boat to stuff the next wave, and just the right length to launch him vertically and with wind assist, dump him the way it did.
The wave frequency was also to short for him to make a turn safely, unless very experienced and do the turn by surfing the front face of the appraoching wave.
He also had all his crew behind him so his CG was also well back.
Given that he had probably misread the conditions and was hoping to punch through the inshore waves to get to a safer longer wave, he got stuck in the worst position.
A lot of people get into this problem when they have come out from the shelter of a headland or when initially attempting to leave harbour. Bangor is particular bad for this condition.
Falling back involves absorbing some of the wave energy by letting the wave push you back by getting the boat straight on the wave and reduce throttle as the wave approaches, (this guy was actually powering into and up the wave).
Simply falling back in this situation would ulimately lead him to be driven on shore, so he would also have to slide slightly to the right on each wave until he could break out and dash for the more sheltered water which was astern to his right.
Long ago I had a situation similar to this in the English Chanel and I spent over two hours of falling back and side slipping until I could get into the lee of the Isle of Wight. Requires a lot of concentration and is very stressful. On that occassion I thought I was going to loose the boat through my own physical and mental exhaustion.
I also nearly lost a boat when departing Bangor in a similar situation as in the video, but survived only just, by letting the first one push me back and then quartering the next waves so as to change the wave frequency relative to the boat length, as I couldn't get back to shelter and had to keep going for deeper water.
In another situation I got caught by some very bad monsoon conditions between Yemen and Somalia, but as I was aready in deep water well away from land I was able to tie coils of rope to a 50metre length of rope tied to the bow bollard to act as a sea drogue, and sit out the storm.
In these situations there are no hard and fast rules for survival and much comes down to reflex actions, knowing your boat, experience and confidence.
Simply punching waves is not always safe, and often you are better to go through or under a head on wave than risk a backward flip by going over the top.
If you do get stuck and have to keep going into the weather then consider slightly quarteing the the wave, the amount of quarter depends on boat length compared to wave frequency, but as you ride up the face the wave keep plenty of power on and hard steer into the wave as the crest approaches to limit the risk of being rolled over.