Originally Posted by Mikefule
A sensibly driven SIB will cope with a hell of a lot. It's not so much the size of the waves as the type of waves. Get caught in a breaking wave, especially sideways on, and you're in difficulty.
In many ways, the most dangerous bit is near the shore, where the waves pile up and break, and doubly so if the waves are reflecting back out from something like a harbour wall or breakwater. Where 2 waves cross, the heights of the crests are added.
A strong headwind is an issue too: go too fast into the wind, let the wind catch under your bow as you go off the top of a wave and you can flip.
But on a day of fairly big rolling waves, you can be out there perfectly safely as long as you're sensible and have a plan for getting ashore safely.
I did many miles in my old Zodiac and 20 hp merc... and seldom felt threatened even when it cut up.
The head wind bit is spot on...especially if your steering from a tiller with most of the weight on the stern...mind you it can happen climbing really STEEP Waves in REALY strong HEAD winds even in heavy deep V RIB!
Not a nice feeling..
I'd also add the experience and Hardiness of the Crew is a really BIG factor on deciding what is safe and prudent to do!...plus in a SIB weight distibution of passengers and securing kit/ fuel ect securly I.e balancing the craft PROPERLY (especially in the Chop) is paramount...for good handling/making a safe passage.
Those who saw the "Irish suicide Jockeys" going right round Anglsey in quite a mixed rolling chop with some roughish sections wearing their swimming goggles and hanging on for dear life in a sub 4m!..a few seasons back will know what I'm talking about!
They not only stayed the course but put a few ...in much larger craft to Shame!.. Even if they did have a boat 1/2 filled with water most of the way...did take considerably longer... and reached the end wetter than bucket of Eels