Tom’s Tips About Wakes

By Tom Neale, 7/27/2006

1. Always assume that wakes are going to happen and be as prepared as you can

2. Don’t expect larger boats to always slow down when they pass you in wide open waters. Their skippers may feel that if you’ve got plenty of room to turn into a wake you should.

3. If you’re a larger boat in open waters, courtesy alone (in addition to many other considerations) dictates that, if you want to maintain speed as you pass a boat, you at least change course so that you don’t pass him too close, so that your wake will have leveled out some by the time it reaches him, and so that he’ll have time and room to safely turn into it.

4. Before you turn into a wake look all around to make sure that your change of course isn’t going to result in a collision with another boat or cause other unexpected problems. Be familiar with and always follow the rules of the road.

5. Bottom characteristics, such as narrow channels with steep walls, can result in dangerous wakes at speeds that would be OK in other waters.

6. If a skipper is truly a bad enough actor to warrant your taking action, call the appropriate authorities (usually the Coast Guard or marine police) but do so professionally and calmly. Have adequate information (such as description, numbers, location and course of offending boat) and be prepared to follow it through. If other people witness the event, try to get their identification so that hopefully they’ll give statements if needed.

7. Remember the clueless category. We’ve all been there at one point or another in our lives. There’s nothing better than making a new friend from a bad situation.

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