Study Topics
Boats in Action Section Quiz Site Map
Weather to go Boating

Wind and Current

A boat’s handling characteristics are affected by wind and current, no matter what type of hull and power combination
it has. Keeping a course or maneuvering in close quarters may be straightforward on a calm day during a slack tidal current, but the boat may become quite ill-mannered when coping with a stiff crosswind or crosscurrent. Since bows
on many power boats are higher than the sterns, they tend to fall off the wind when backing, despite anything that is
done with the helm. So, in general, when operating a boat in large waves and high winds, head into the waves at a slight angle, and reduce your speed. This will help you maintain control, and avoid falling off of a wave, or having a
wave break over your stern.

Hull type has the most effect on how a boat reacts to the current. Displacement-type hulls with considerable draft are affected by current to a greater extent than shallower-draft, lighter, planing-type hulls. Water is much denser than air,
so a half-knot cross current may have more effect on a displacement cruiser than a stiff 15 to 20 knot wind.

On the other hand, given the same conditions, a planing - type hull with a high tuna tower could be more affected by wind than by current. Neither a displacement nor planing boat can ignore the wind current. Skippers of both will find
one of them a major factor affecting the boat’s maneuverability. This becomes most apparent while running at low speed in close quarters.