Judging Wave Height from Bennington Pontoon Boats: What you Must Know

It’s incredibly rare to find an extremely calm sea to sail on. One will usually encounter various types of waves from all directions, ranging from the relatively mild to the potentially deadly; properly navigating those waves while in sturdy Bennington pontoon boats can spell the difference between a leisurely and ill-fated cruise. However, judging such waves often prove a chore, as an article on BoatingMag.com from contributor Kevin Falvey notes:

Measuring Wave Height

In a boat it’s easy to overestimate wave heights. This is because of a phenomenon discovered by William Froude in 1861. He found that, no matter how your boat is situated on a large swell, what you feel to be “straight down” is actually at right angles to the wave. So when you think you’re looking out on a level line to judge a wave, you are actually looking on an angle, distorting your judgment.

To better understand proper “wave reading,” it is critical to know several terms. First, always remember that the wave’s highest point is called the crest; its lowest point is known as the trough; and the distance from the trough to the crest is called the wave height.

There are three situations that can determine whether a boat is about to be capsized by a wave, according to studies. For one, the wave’s height must exceed a certain percentage of the boat’s length—i.e. wave height exceeds half the boat’s length—for it to contain enough energy to capsize a boat.

Falvey further gives rough estimates based on his own observations: when wave height is as low as 2 feet, then everything is fine; but when it reaches four to seven feet, then it’s time to turn tail and head for land. Falvey’s estimates are downright logical, as it’s technically impossible for a two-foot wave to overturn a conventional-sized boat, even if they come in succession. Waves above seven feet, however, are obviously more dangerous, more so if they come in droves.

There are several methods that can be used in determining wave height. When the boat is in the trough and is on an even keel, any wave obscuring the horizon must be greater than the height of the observer’s eye to be potentially dangerous. Another method involves floating structures such a buoy. If a buoy is estimated to be 13 feet, for instance, one can use it as a yardstick to judge the waves going past it. Of course, such methods can get much more effective with practice.

Before buying new Bennington pontoon boats for sale from dealers like White’s Marine Center, always remember the aforementioned information as they could potentially save lives while at sea.

(Source: Measuring Wave Height, BoatingMag.com, May 4, 2012)

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