In Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, the inland and coastal waterways are busy places. As a result, wakes are created from passing boats which turns the water tumultuous. The washing machine-like conditions boat wakes cause are exhilarating for watersports enthusiasts and present dangers to vessels and their occupants. Here is what you must know about the wake from a boat. 

What Causes A Boat Wake

The process in which a wake is created is simple. First, the water does not become compressed as the boat moves but instead is pushed away, otherwise know as displacing.

The water displaced from the boat’s hull is forced away from the centerline, thus creating a series of waves that extend from the port and starboard side of the vessel. The size of the wake is determined by the speed and size of the boat. For example, a ship creates a more significant trail due to its increased displacement when compared to a bowrider.

Are You Responsible For Your Boat Wake

The vessel operator is responsible for the wake emitted from the boat while in or out of a no-wake zone.

All damages or injuries caused by the wake, whether to people, docks, vessels, or other objects, fall squarely on the driver. Therefore, no matter the speed posted, reduce the rate of motion when passing anchored boats, disabled watercraft, small vessels, or any other situation that will cause violent rocking or swamping.

Why Should You Watch Your Wake

You must watch your wake because you are legally responsible for damages and injury. Vessel operators are legally bound to operate at a safe speed to avoid damage to people or property. Consequently, failing to do so by injuring occupants, capsizing vessels, or causing damage results in criminal charges.

Unfortunately, a fun day on the water can turn deadly or costly by failing to recognize the dangers imposed by the wake which is created by the vessel. For this reason, reduce speeds when necessary. Consider slowing down as boating etiquette.

The majority of operates alter the speed to control wake based on the situation. The danger comes from a few bad apples.

How Do You Drive A Boat In A Wake

Let’s face it, wakes are unavoidable, and all operators must navigate through the waves of boats in which they are passing, crossing, or traveling in opposite directions.

Undoubtedly the wakes are frequently enormous, and it appears as though the challenge to pass through them will be daunting. 

The best way to safely navigate through the wake is to reduce speed and steer at a 45-degree angle through the waves. Nevertheless, the boat will rock, but the angle is safest to avoid capsizing or becoming swamped. 

Always remember to warn passengers before entering into a boat wake to avoid falling out of their seats or attempting to move about the vessel.

Are Boat Wakes Dangerous

Both running at high speeds through a wake and causing an extensive wave trail are equally as dangerous.

As mentioned before, reduce speed to avoid causing damage to docks and fellow boaters. 

We have not yet mentioned operating at high speed through the waves from a passing vessel. Never speed through an oncoming wake. The operator can quickly lose control of the boat or cause it to pitch wildly.

Lastly, racing through wakes causes the boat to become airborne before violently slamming down on already turbulent waters. The impact will be severe, and the rough waters upon landing will present the operator with a unique challenge of maintaining control. Again, slow down.

How Do I Lower My Boat Wake

One would believe that slowing the vessel down would produce a minimal wake. This answer is partially true.

A wake can be smaller at top speeds compared to midrange speeds as a result of displacement. The vessel displaces more water as its stern sags deeper in the water resulting in a larger wake. 

Pulling the throttles back to lower the speed is simply not enough to eliminate a large wake. 

Follow these steps to reduce the wake to a safe level. Pull the throttle back to the neutral position and allow the boat to slow and level out. Once the boat is level, shift to forward. When we say shift forward, this means clicking the shifter out of idle and into clutch ahead; this does not imply throttle up to high speeds. 

We consider this to be checking your wake. A checked boat wake will remain at a safe level. 

Are You Prepared To Both Control Your Wake And Safely Pass-Through Those From Fellow Boaters

The key is the rate of the forward motion. Remember to lower speed to reduce the impact on the vessel and its occupants. Apply this approach when passing through a wake or controlling wave height as a result of displacement. Watercraft are dangerous. Each year people are thrown from watercraft which results in severe injury or death. Be responsible and control the wake emitted from the vessel.