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Old 08 July 2021, 16:41   #1
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What's your wave height limit?

Hi.
Long time lurker etc etc.

I run a 7mtr coded rib for tours through our harbour and out at sea to local sightseeing spots etc. We started up this year. In our operating procedures I have a hard 'no' for anything force 5 and above and 'dynamic risk assessment ' for skippers (ie me).

I took 4 passengers out earlier for a tour which should've taken 2 hrs. Weather forecast was fine with predicted 0.6mtr swell. Once we got out there we had wave height of 5 or 6 feet. Nasty chop that slowed me down to around 12kn. The passengers seemed OK with it but I decided to cut the trip short and turn back to more sheltered waters (which they were also cool with) which was still choppy but not as much. Also not much to see. We ended up getting back half an hour early.

My reasoning was that it was uncomfortable and potentially hazardous and at that speed we probably wouldn't make it there and back within the time set for the trip. Since getting back I've been questioning my decision and second guessing myself. Wondering if I should've plowed on.

I guess my question would be have you been in that situation and what did you do? What's your wave height limit? I'm sure I did the right thing. There was a couple of waves out there that were genuinely concerning but I'm still wondering. Thanks in advance.
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Old 08 July 2021, 17:16   #2
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Originally Posted by Ribbed for pleasure View Post
Hi.
Long time lurker etc etc.

I run a 7mtr coded rib for tours through our harbour and out at sea to local sightseeing spots etc. We started up this year. In our operating procedures I have a hard 'no' for anything force 5 and above and 'dynamic risk assessment ' for skippers (ie me).

I took 4 passengers out earlier for a tour which should've taken 2 hrs. Weather forecast was fine with predicted 0.6mtr swell. Once we got out there we had wave height of 5 or 6 feet. Nasty chop that slowed me down to around 12kn. The passengers seemed OK with it but I decided to cut the trip short and turn back to more sheltered waters (which they were also cool with) which was still choppy but not as much. Also not much to see. We ended up getting back half an hour early.

My reasoning was that it was uncomfortable and potentially hazardous and at that speed we probably wouldn't make it there and back within the time set for the trip. Since getting back I've been questioning my decision and second guessing myself. Wondering if I should've plowed on.

I guess my question would be have you been in that situation and what did you do? What's your wave height limit? I'm sure I did the right thing. There was a couple of waves out there that were genuinely concerning but I'm still wondering. Thanks in advance.


If in doubt, bail out.
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Old 09 July 2021, 03:52   #3
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Agree with PD. The boat WILL take it but you and the Pax won't.
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Old 09 July 2021, 10:38   #4
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Originally Posted by Ribbed for pleasure View Post
Hi.
Long time lurker etc etc.
........
I guess my question would be have you been in that situation and what did you do? What's your wave height limit? I'm sure I did the right thing. There was a couple of waves out there that were genuinely concerning but I'm still wondering. Thanks in advance.
Welcome to RIBnet.

I dabble in commercial - although I target professional clients who are much easier to work with. F5 is a good forecast cutoff - particularly in sheltered waters. It allows for a potential F6 which here is a designated small craft warning. IMO wave hopping and clients are not a good mix. In more exposed waters, particularly where there are strong tidal currents, F5 against a spring tide could be horrendous - territory well worth avoiding.

I encounter oceanic swell on almost every job I do. In low wind conditions I'll entertain up to 1.5m before pulling the plug. These will be fairly long period and while they can look intimidating, are relatively benign. Factor in a contrary wind or tide and things can get sporty real quick.
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Old 10 July 2021, 05:36   #5
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Hi there

Which harbour?

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Old 10 July 2021, 07:54   #6
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One of the things with newbie passengers, especially if they've never been on a rib before is how they'll anticipate chop and rough seas if the wind gets up. If they are seated on jockeys then there's some compensation they can make by bracing against the backrest and use their knees, while others are going to sit there and absorb the shock, which isn't fun. I'd always err on the side of caution.
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Old 12 July 2021, 08:48   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ribbed for pleasure View Post
Hi.
Long time lurker etc etc.

I run a 7mtr coded rib for tours through our harbour and out at sea to local sightseeing spots etc. We started up this year. In our operating procedures I have a hard 'no' for anything force 5 and above and 'dynamic risk assessment ' for skippers (ie me).

I took 4 passengers out earlier for a tour which should've taken 2 hrs. Weather forecast was fine with predicted 0.6mtr swell. Once we got out there we had wave height of 5 or 6 feet. Nasty chop that slowed me down to around 12kn. The passengers seemed OK with it but I decided to cut the trip short and turn back to more sheltered waters (which they were also cool with) which was still choppy but not as much. Also not much to see. We ended up getting back half an hour early.

My reasoning was that it was uncomfortable and potentially hazardous and at that speed we probably wouldn't make it there and back within the time set for the trip. Since getting back I've been questioning my decision and second guessing myself. Wondering if I should've plowed on.

I guess my question would be have you been in that situation and what did you do? What's your wave height limit? I'm sure I did the right thing. There was a couple of waves out there that were genuinely concerning but I'm still wondering. Thanks in advance.


Sounds like you made a well reasoned decision and have good advice above. Only thing I would add is all considerations need to be aimed at the weakest link on board. The elderly, children, special needs etc. One persons fun can be another’s worst nightmare. Cancelling trips or turning back is an extremely important part of the job and par for the course
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Old 12 July 2021, 08:57   #8
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Spot on in my book, risk assessment is key as said, a good skipper should know the limits
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Old 12 July 2021, 09:56   #9
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Hello

You've already mentioned dynamic risk assessment above this is a key step in my book.

Only you, as the skipper sat there, can make the decision on what's safe, what's reasonable and what's achievable. As we know, todays decision will be different tomorrow base don all the different criteria mentioned above.

You made the correct call, deciding if you can have a plan B, have a 2nd location for a time killing circle or the ability to take punters to the ' secret cave' would be a logical step to ensure the time is used.

But no matter what people think - you're the skipper and the safety call is yours and yours alone.
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Old 12 July 2021, 20:28   #10
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Like you I have a commercial licence and skipper mostly 6m vessels in the abalone and sea urchin business. We work in quite terrible conditions at times where most people wouldn't consider being on the water. I also drive tourism related dive boats from time to time and find the clients love big sea conditions and the boats have no problems handling it.

On the weekend we had 7m swell where both recreational and commercial vessels were out chasing tuna (not me as Im fitting out a new boat). The swells were showing 7m rises on the sounder over flat ground but the only areas waves were breaking were on shallow reefs. Other days with 2m wind waves its horrible to be out on the water in almost any vessel.

I love being out in big sea's myself and am also a member of marine rescue. I spend hours in the water around shallow rough reefs often getting swept over rocks and find it all quite exciting, even though Im getting a bit old for it now!!!

This is 2m swell where the water police (friends of ours) took pics of us from their 70ft vessel.

A 3-4m rescue rib ninth right hands can handle almost anything you throw at them.
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Old 15 July 2021, 09:07   #11
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Rules of operating in uk waters with coding is dictated by MCA definition of favourable weather which is what the code will have written on
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Old 16 July 2021, 08:31   #12
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Do you still use the term gale force when talking wind speed or go by knots, miles or km ? Ive noticed quite a move to mph in the USA with all the boat testing magazines and forums etc and kmh here in Oz. Even many boat gauges only give the choice of mph or kmh.

Gale force winds seems to of been totally dropped from marine forecasts and even knots is becoming less spoken of these days. I find myself constantly having to convert when I hear someone describing wind forces as kmh, to the point Im even using kmh myself now just so other mariners know what Im talking about!!!!
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Old 16 July 2021, 16:23   #13
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The UK shipping forecast still uses "gale 8" and "storm 10" etc as part of their forecast.

British Standards use metres per second for wind speed which can be doubled to approximate knots e.g. 5 m/s is 10 knots.

As soon as the forecast has a word before the Beaufort number, I start looking for land based activities.
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Old 19 July 2021, 05:05   #14
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British Standards use metres per second for wind speed which can be doubled to approximate knots e.g. 5 m/s is 10 knots.
Bl@@dy 'Ell, he's right John!
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Old 19 July 2021, 10:49   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C2 RIBS View Post
Rules of operating in uk waters with coding is dictated by MCA definition of favourable weather which is what the code will have written on
Definition of Favourable Weather from MGN280:
“Favourable weather” means wind, sea and visibility conditions which are deemed by the
skipper to be safe for a small vessel to operate within the limits applied to it; or, in any other
case means conditions existing throughout a voyage or excursion in which the effects either
individually or in combination of swell, height of waves, strength of wind and visibility
cause no hazard to the safety of the vessel, including handling ability.

So - it's up to the Skipper to decide what "Favourable Weather" is. The OP made the right call.
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