Choppy water with wake behind you

bgold12

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I currently have a 20 SLV with two pontoons and a 90hp. The lake I am on can get quite choppy. I have more or less mastered how to take waves on when they are coming at me (i.e. they are coming from the direction I am trying to go): weight towards back of the boat, 30 degrees off head on, trim up, make sure I have some speed.

I have had more trouble when the wake is behind me i.e. the waves and I are headed in the same direction. Even with the trim up and weight in the back of the boat, sometimes a wave will push me into the next wave and I'll nosedive and take water on. Should I be doing something different when the waves and I are headed in the same direction? How should my speed, angle, and trim be different than when I am heading at the waves?

I am planning to get a 22 tritoon next year so hopefully this will all be less of an issue.

Thanks in advance for the help!
 

Potomacbassin’

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It depends on wave period and height, but I do one of two things - drive through them or drive with them. If they are less than 2 footers and tight, I'll just WOT and skip off the tops. If I start porpoising then I'll modulate the throttle to disrupt the pattern/frequency to flatten out the ride.

But when it gets nasty no choice but to ride with them, and it's all feel for the boat and your power. I tend to power up the backside, throttle down when coming down the backside and give a little right or left rudder so I'm coming in into the back of the next wave at a slight angle. Keeps from stuffing the bow or pitch-poling but it also can put you in a bad spot if the wave to your rear catches up. This is where power comes in and in my case I have ample (250hp) to hit the front wave then power up to straighten out. Basically I do a bunch of small zig zags with the steering and constantly am throttling up and down the entire way. Once you have the pattern down you can almost maintain a near constant speed.

Trim up / bow up for sure.

It's all gaining experience with your particular boat and getting that "feel" - no amount of advice can shortcut that. And while a 22' will help, when the stuff gets nasty you still will be white-knuckling it.
 

BigKahuna

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Welcome to the forum Bgold!!! The waves are coming up behind you and knocking you into the next wave?!? Throttle up!!!
 

bgold12

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Welcome to the forum Bgold!!! The waves are coming up behind you and knocking you into the next wave?!? Throttle up!!!
Thanks for the welcome!

Yes, going fast has been my main strategy. My experience has been that it works about 99% of the time. But the 1% of the time it does not work, you are driven hard into the forward wave and take on more water than it seems like you would if you were going slower or approaching at a different angle.
 

bgold12

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It depends on wave period and height, but I do one of two things - drive through them or drive with them. If they are less than 2 footers and tight, I'll just WOT and skip off the tops. If I start porpoising then I'll modulate the throttle to disrupt the pattern/frequency to flatten out the ride.

But when it gets nasty no choice but to ride with them, and it's all feel for the boat and your power. I tend to power up the backside, throttle down when coming down the backside and give a little right or left rudder so I'm coming in into the back of the next wave at a slight angle. Keeps from stuffing the bow or pitch-poling but it also can put you in a bad spot if the wave to your rear catches up. This is where power comes in and in my case I have ample (250hp) to hit the front wave then power up to straighten out. Basically I do a bunch of small zig zags with the steering and constantly am throttling up and down the entire way. Once you have the pattern down you can almost maintain a near constant speed.

Trim up / bow up for sure.

It's all gaining experience with your particular boat and getting that "feel" - no amount of advice can shortcut that. And while a 22' will help, when the stuff gets nasty you still will be white-knuckling it.
So you've go your hand on the throttle and you are accelerating over the back of the wave and letting up once you get over? I would have thought letting up once you are over would cause the bow to dip into the next wave.

Good point ont he 22'. My main thought was the third pontoon, the lifting strakes, and the larger engine would be would provides the big assist relative to my two toon 90hp.

Thanks for the help!
 

Potomacbassin’

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That's right - I'm moving the boat faster than the wave so I need to accelerate out of the trough, up the backside over the crest, turn the wheel and decelerate down the backside so I don't slam into the next wave but hit it at an angle. Then repeat.

I haven't had to do this but a few times (4th of July in DC waters) but when large boat wakes pose a risk to swamping I'll ride between the waves and just stay in the trough until I feel safe enough to power out. I did end up stuffing into a 6 footer because my stern got picked up by another huge wake and I couldn't control it - nothing like 100 gallons of beautiful Anacostia water showering you and you family.
 

bgold12

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That's right - I'm moving the boat faster than the wave so I need to accelerate out of the trough, up the backside over the crest, turn the wheel and decelerate down the backside so I don't slam into the next wave but hit it at an angle. Then repeat.

I haven't had to do this but a few times (4th of July in DC waters) but when large boat wakes pose a risk to swamping I'll ride between the waves and just stay in the trough until I feel safe enough to power out. I did end up stuffing into a 6 footer because my stern got picked up by another huge wake and I couldn't control it - nothing like 100 gallons of beautiful Anacostia water showering you and you family.
Yes that was the other thing I was going to ask -- if going to just ride with the waves (as opposed to powering over), better to ride in the trough than on top? Either way I don't feel like I have much control over steering (at least on my current boat).

No thanks to the anacostia water :) I used to live in DC but never saw any pontoon boats out there.
 

BigKahuna

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That's right - I'm moving the boat faster than the wave so I need to accelerate out of the trough, up the backside over the crest, turn the wheel and decelerate down the backside so I don't slam into the next wave but hit it at an angle. Then repeat.

I haven't had to do this but a few times (4th of July in DC waters) but when large boat wakes pose a risk to swamping I'll ride between the waves and just stay in the trough until I feel safe enough to power out. I did end up stuffing into a 6 footer because my stern got picked up by another huge wake and I couldn't control it - nothing like 100 gallons of beautiful Anacostia water showering you and you family.
Oh no not the Anacostia/Potomac water! Ha!
 

Potomacbassin’

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It was nasty as you might imagine - they still have CSO's in the city (combined sewer overflow) which means whenever it rains moderately heavy raw sewage is dumped into the river. DC Water is undertaking a multi-year multi-billion dollar project to tunnel underground where these overflows go into basically metro train-sized tunnels where they can treat it over time at Blue Plains. But until that is complete, I would not recommend any bow stuffing up around the city!
 

Potomacbassin’

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Yes that was the other thing I was going to ask -- if going to just ride with the waves (as opposed to powering over), better to ride in the trough than on top? Either way I don't feel like I have much control over steering (at least on my current boat).

No thanks to the anacostia water :) I used to live in DC but never saw any pontoon boats out there.

I go over the top most of the time because 1) I am usually making long runs so getting to/from my destination will take forever if going with the waves, and 2) most of the sea state on the Potomac is what I would consider tightly spaced 2's or less which allows a longer boat like my 23' to mostly span the waves tops and not dive into those troughs. But in your case (especially without the middle toon) I definitely see how it would get very hard to control in even moderate conditions.

While an upgrade is an expensive solution, if you're encountering these types of conditions often it makes all the sense in the world. Longer, more buoyancy and more HP will absolutely be safer and maybe even fun when running in some snot. We get hit in some areas where tide and wind fight each other pretty severely (mouth of Occoquan and Aquia) so having confidence that I'll be able to get my family home safe is worth $$ IMO.
 

bgold12

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I go over the top most of the time because 1) I am usually making long runs so getting to/from my destination will take forever if going with the waves, and 2) most of the sea state on the Potomac is what I would consider tightly spaced 2's or less which allows a longer boat like my 23' to mostly span the waves tops and not dive into those troughs. But in your case (especially without the middle toon) I definitely see how it would get very hard to control in even moderate conditions.

While an upgrade is an expensive solution, if you're encountering these types of conditions often it makes all the sense in the world. Longer, more buoyancy and more HP will absolutely be safer and maybe even fun when running in some snot. We get hit in some areas where tide and wind fight each other pretty severely (mouth of Occoquan and Aquia) so having confidence that I'll be able to get my family home safe is worth $$ IMO.
Totally agree. This is great--thanks so much for your help. Enjoy the sewage! ;)
 

BigKahuna

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I go over the top most of the time because 1) I am usually making long runs so getting to/from my destination will take forever if going with the waves, and 2) most of the sea state on the Potomac is what I would consider tightly spaced 2's or less which allows a longer boat like my 23' to mostly span the waves tops and not dive into those troughs. But in your case (especially without the middle toon) I definitely see how it would get very hard to control in even moderate conditions.

While an upgrade is an expensive solution, if you're encountering these types of conditions often it makes all the sense in the world. Longer, more buoyancy and more HP will absolutely be safer and maybe even fun when running in some snot. We get hit in some areas where tide and wind fight each other pretty severely (mouth of Occoquan and Aquia) so having confidence that I'll be able to get my family home safe is worth $$ IMO.
Have you been down to the 301/Nice bridge where they're finally building another span over the Potomac?!?
 

Potomacbassin’

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Have you been down to the 301/Nice bridge where they're finally building another span over the Potomac?!?
I have - recently ran down there in May to see if we could pick up some fish at the Dominion power plant discharge. There is a ton of equipment there for the new bridge (barges etc.) - long overdue!
 
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