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Thread: Rough Ride Back to Seward!

  1. #1

    Default Rough Ride Back to Seward!

    Went out of Seward on Thursday. Morning marine forecast was 3 ft seas. Should have got more nervous when an older gentlemen at the harbor in the morning said "Makes you wonder why you don't see any other boats going out doesn't it?" He told us there were 8 foot swells at the outer Bay and that we would not reach Pony Cove. Oh, well, figured we would just stay in closer and should be fine. Went as far as the south side of Bear Glacier. On the way back the wind changed from south to north (as was predicted by the forecast) but hit 20 to 25 knots instead of 10 to 15 as predicted. The end result with the wind opposing the swells was solid 4 to 6 foot steep waves between Caines Head and Seward.........Marine forecast was upgraded to Small Craft Advisory with 5ft seas at 4:00 PM (we hit the harbor at 5:00). We were in a 22ft Boulton Aurora and partially buried the bow a few times...........a rather scary experience that I would not like to repeat. Now all of this makes me wonder the following questions:

    Does the marine forecast predict wave heights based on expected wind speed and direction only? Or does it use off-shore bouy data to consider ocean swells also and their effect further inland?

    By the way, mooched 8 silvers, got 6 halibut & 12 black rockfish!

  2. #2

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    Often if you just wait it out for a few hours on the S. side of Callisto Head it is pretty calm. Sometimes not so much. If I remember right, the boat you were riding in has somewhat of an open bow area. I don't like plowing through waves in any boat. I especially hate when it happens in a boat with an open bow no matter how fast it drains out. I am glad you made to port ok. Sometimes, it gets nasty even in the bay. It was just a couple of weeks ago while attempting to go east to fish for some butts' that we encountered swell that was at least 10 feet high at Cape Resurrection. I made a a good choice and a bad choice. The good one was not to go east. The bad one was that I cut between the islands hoping for a little protection and was hoping to save some time running over to our new destination - Pony Cove. Instead, I found 15 foot swells between the islands with some washing machine action as they bounced around in the confined space. Good thing I have a good boat.....I will think twice about doing that again.

  3. #3

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    Cape Resurrection and Aialik are notorious locations for big confused seas.

    I'm headed to Seward tomorrow to take some relatives fishing at Pony and south. If anyone coming in today from Seward would post a report on the water (and fishing) conditions I would appreciate it. Whittier would be my backup, but I don't think chances of getting on the fish are as good as they are out of Seward.

  4. #4

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    T.R just curious what type of boat do you have?

    -Nick

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default That is why they

    call those confused seas... ( the Washing Machine )
    I tell you... I went thru some of those big standers one time in a sea kayak and thank goodness for spray skirts, dry suit, and a touch of craziness on my part,,, looking back,, I would not do that again on purpose...
    One time we got into the washing machine waves like that in a 26 foot glass boat, and took alot of water over the back and sides.
    One big wave in the back of that boat would have sent us to davey jones locker for sure...
    I still don't understand why years ago I thought there was a sense of urgency to try and get thru the big standers heading out of Seward....
    youthful indiscretions and lack of wisdom I suppose..
    Now 20 years later I realize and grasp what my dad said to me one day when I tried to haul him accross skilak in some biggies... " No thanks son,, I want to be around to play with my Grandchildren "

    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  6. #6
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    Default Yup...

    Seward blows... I've ran from Ailik glacier in 10 foot peaky breaking swells before, kind of fun in the right boat, kind of scary in the wrong one. Do it again? It's not one of my priorities.

    Chris

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fishwhacker View Post
    T.R just curious what type of boat do you have?

    -Nick
    I have a C-Dory 22. It is a great ocean boat in my opinion. But, if I could afford buying three times as much fuel per hour, I would have a Seasport 27 or an Osprey. But, hey it gets me there and back, it is dry and warm, and just sips gas for a boat. Not a wave has ever come over the bow and nothing has ever even remotely came close to coming over the side. In light of today's fuel prices, it turned out to be a great choice for me. And, that is all that matters

  8. #8

    Default

    "Now all of this makes me wonder the following questions:
    Does the marine forecast predict wave heights based on expected wind speed and direction only? Or does it use off-shore bouy data to consider ocean swells also and their effect further inland?"

    Because at any particular wind speed and fetch, there will be a wide range of wave heights (most waves of some average height with some big ones and some little ones mixed in). What NOAA radio predicts is the average size of the highest 1/3 of the waves. This means that that about 10% of the waves could be about 25% higher, and a very few could be bigger still. Also remember that waves can vary quite a bit over an area as big as Resurrection Bay. Some places can be wind funnels and some can be more sheltered.
    See http://www.vos.noaa.gov/MWL/apr_06/waves.shtml for more details.

    The bottom line is to use the NOAA predictions as a general guide, but don't assume they will be perfect for the exact time and place you are. Mariners Beware!

  9. #9

    Default OTH

    Anyone that has spent even the least bit of time on the water knows what you are saying is completely true. Clearly, anything can happen, but what they predict probably might happen. I don't know how else to put it......

  10. #10
    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Default

    I would keep in mind that they have difficulties predicting the weather in AK because there are so many variables that can affect it. That being said the water predictions imo are just as difficult to predict and are simply put an educated guess based on the data they have at hand. It is still a valuable tool to use so I wouldn't disregaurd it at all.

  11. #11

    Default

    I don't think anyone said to disregard it. But, more closely, take the forecast with a grain of salt and be prepared for the worst is what I heard.

  12. #12

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    Sorry if my last comment was not as clear as I meant. I certainly didn't mean to disregard the NOAA forcast! Given the size of our state, the lack of real time data for many areas, and the complexity of the topography I think they do a remarkable job.

    My "Mariners beware" comment was meant that when you listen to the NOAA forcast, always be aware that things could get a lot worse. Always allow a safety margin. How big a margin depends on your particular boat. Always have proper safety gear and keep your boat and engine in good shape. Be ready to turn back if things seem tougher than expected (even if the fishing is good!). Bottom line is that the skipper's job is to keep his/her boat and crew safe.

    Have fun but be careful out there!

  13. #13
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    Default Overthehill nailed it!

    Quote Originally Posted by overthehill;311584
    Because at any particular wind speed and fetch, there will be a wide range of wave heights (most waves of some average height with some big ones and some little ones mixed in). What NOAA radio predicts is the average size of the highest 1/3 of the waves. This means that that about 10% of the waves could be about 25% higher, and a very few could be bigger still. Also remember that waves can vary quite a bit over an area as big as Resurrection Bay. Some places can be wind funnels and some can be more sheltered.
    See [URL
    http://www.vos.noaa.gov/MWL/apr_06/waves.shtml[/URL] for more details.

    The bottom line is to use the NOAA predictions as a general guide, but don't assume they will be perfect for the exact time and place you are. Mariners Beware!
    Even as good as the forecasts can be, titobandito's ride back to Seward isn't an uncommon situation in Alaska, whether you are in Resurrection Bay or up on Lake Louise; the weather changes very quickly and both widespread and localized wind conditions can make for some very scary boating situations! I've been in the Gulf of Alaska when a canoe could safely get the job done and on Skilak when I would have preferred a battleship! The trick is to be prepared as well as possible and have a sea-worthy boat. Clearly understanding the limitations of your craft and the weather potential can cause you to second guess your decisions about going....the threat of injury and/or death is always a concern, especially in Alaska, so preparation is of the utmost importance. Survival skills and equipment can make the difference when the situation goes bad quickly, as well as a really good plan! How many carry a sea anchor and know how to use it? How many carry survival suits? How about a 406 Epirb? Anybody do drills? Do you know how to do damage control and dewatering? Is your boat equipped to deal with rough seas? Are you? Good questions, answer them honestly and your decisions will always be better! Safe Boating! Mike

  14. #14
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    Default

    Experiences like what Tito went through are why "questionable" or "compromise" boats should not be taken into the ocean.
    Glad you made it home safe and sound!

  15. #15

    Default ocean bouy data or not?

    One of my basic questions still remains?

    Is ocean bouy wave data considered in the local marine forecasts or not?

  16. #16

    Default clarification

    By accounting (or not) for bouy wave data my question (which remains after reading the SE alaska marine forecast link provided by one of the replies to this post) is if off shore bouy data is used to predict local wave heights in a marine forecast?

    The Beaufort scale predicts wave height based on wind speed assuming full fetch available to develop full wind wave height. Is this all the marine forecast does?

    For example: if there is 15 foot bouy waves (ocean swell from past off-shore wind events) from the nearest bouy to Resurrection Bay, and the predicted near term wind speeds are only calm to variable 10 knots.......then what would be the marine forecast for the average value of the highest 1/3 of the waves for the local marine forecast for Resurrection Bay????

    This forum is great, I expected, and appreciated that USCG would reply to this post, and hope they continue for all our benefit!

  17. #17

    Default

    Spent Monday and Tuesday fishing near Seward. Monday was a good day. Went out yesterday in 3-ft. seas and 20+ mph north winds. Drifted for halibut out by Rugged island, in Mary's Bay (open to the south), etc. Didn't matter. Boat blown across the water at 2-3 mph and couldn't keep bait on bottom. Wind whipping the tops off of the waves. Gave up after 3 hours. The only good part of the day was that I was boarded by the Coast Guard for an inspection and had everything check out ok. They did tell me that I should get rid of my expired flares (about 2 years expired) and keep only my flares that are still current. Now if I have 3 current flares and 3 recently expired flares, why would I not want to keep the expired ones for if/when I have to use the current ones and then end up needing more?

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by skydiver View Post
    Spent Monday and Tuesday fishing near Seward. Monday was a good day. Went out yesterday in 3-ft. seas and 20+ mph north winds. Drifted for halibut out by Rugged island, in Mary's Bay (open to the south), etc. Didn't matter. Boat blown across the water at 2-3 mph and couldn't keep bait on bottom. Wind whipping the tops off of the waves. Gave up after 3 hours. The only good part of the day was that I was boarded by the Coast Guard for an inspection and had everything check out ok. They did tell me that I should get rid of my expired flares (about 2 years expired) and keep only my flares that are still current. Now if I have 3 current flares and 3 recently expired flares, why would I not want to keep the expired ones for if/when I have to use the current ones and then end up needing more?
    When I had my boat inspected in the spring for my sticker, the "Coasties" told me I should keep the expired flares along with the current ones "just in case".

  19. #19
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    I've also heard you should keep your expired flares for spares, as the minimum required flares aren't necessarily the number of flares you'll need in an emergency.

    I've heard of old flares working just fine.

  20. #20

    Default

    I have tested some of my of flares and had some not fire.

    So you can keep them but don't depend on them.

    Boat Safe.

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