Safe distance for speedboats

Cathy*

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Scenario :-

2 speedboats travelling at around 20 kn are heading to a position for which the exact marks are known to the skipper of the lead boat. Should the following boat travel directly behind or to the side of the front boat and, if behind to keep out of the wake, what would be a safe distance away?
 

Vitesse

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I'd say second boat needs to be positioned so any unexpected manoeuvre by the leader isn't a problem. Both need to maintain a good look out and that's hard to do when concentrating on close formation.

As to proper distances - dunno! It would depend on experience, conditions and whatever you might be comfortable with. Sorry, much help.
 
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MapisM

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what would be a safe distance away?
At 20kts, I'd say that anything under 100m or so might be a bit risky.
Actually, assuming that the two boats are of similar size/behaviour, even in the worst case (sudden loss of power in the leading boat), the following boat would have time to react also if cruising much closer than that.
But this implies that the helmsman of the following boat must keep his eyes on the leading boat constantly, for 60 seconds a minute.
And obviously, even if a proper look out is a must anyway in that situation, it's better to have a bit of reserve.

That said, if by "speedboats" you mean some smallish vessels (say up to 28/30 feet), the potential advantage of staying in the wake of the leading boat in order to enjoy a flatter surface, at 100m distance is close to nothing.
Therefore, you might as well stay out of the wake, unless of course the aim is also to minimize the chances of grabbing pots/nets/whatever with both boats at the same time...
 

BruceK

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According to our local bylaws at Conwy minimum following distance is 2.5 times the safe stopping distance. I'd imagine that would translate as a good minimum rule of thumb elsewhere. At 20 knots if you are not paying attention you could get yourself in a whole lot of trouble very quickly regardless of safe minimum distances.
 

colingr

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I prefer to follow out of the wake of the lead boat so off to one side which gives room if anything happens ahead. No specific difference as it varies so much due to sea conditions.
 

gjgm

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Scenario :-

2 speedboats travelling at around 20 kn are heading to a position for which the exact marks are known to the skipper of the lead boat. Should the following boat travel directly behind or to the side of the front boat and, if behind to keep out of the wake, what would be a safe distance away?
Think it depends how far you are travelling. 100m is far enough back you dont need to be razor focussed; 50m I would say you need to be very focussed. That might be fine for a mile or two, but I would drop back further than say 75m if going some miles.
In many cases I assume this is sort of a straight line anyway, so the second boat could just as easily be parallel and 50 to the side.
No need to be on someone's a*s, surely?
 

lisilou

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This is a common sense scenario surely? If you feel too close then chances are...you are. Just stay alert at all times and read any potential hazards early.
L
:)
 

Offshore57

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I prefer to follow out of the wake of the lead boat so off to one side which gives room if anything happens ahead. No specific difference as it varies so much due to sea conditions.

Agreed, plus in the non-aerated water outside of his wash my own prop is getting better water through it performance and grip wise. 50 back and 50 to the side would sound about right to me..... obviously in a racing situation that can be and often is very different.
 

[2068]

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A few years ago, in convoy with a Rinker 232 following Flower Power in across ChristChurch bay.

Following maybe 30 metres back, and about the same to the side, all was going well until the Rinker tried to switch sides across the wake. A bigger change in direction (to make a 45' crossing angle?) would have worked better: instead his boat fell violently to one side, and a passenger hit their head on the windscreen frame. Small birds flew around in circles for a while, and the first aid kit was deployed. Passenger was driven to A&E afterwards for a checkup.

No lasting damage, but an interesting lesson learnt: I think there might be some bits of foamy aerated water in the "breaking wave" of a boat wake that don't support a following boat as well as solid water.
 
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colingr

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Since Cathy has not returned to the thread We cannot tell if we have answered the question but I'm interested to know what prompted the question in the first place. Just being nosy.
 

Davy_S

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I was witness to what could have become a very serious incident a few years back. You have to picture the scene, the Fylde coast, I am in a Shetland sealark doing 20 knots, to my starboard, ahead of me is a 14ft Dejon, closely following the Dejon is a Shetland 535 (too close) the accident happened in a split second, the Dejons fuel ran out, at the same time the 525 driver ducked below the windscreen to answer the vhf radio, when he looked up in horror, he shut the throttle and smashed into the stern of the Dejon, the Dejon crew jumped in the water out of the way, the 535 rode up the transom and ripped a 4ft gash out of the hull, the 535 driver calmly walked around the cabin and climbed into the Dejon and pulled the two anglers out of the water, the 535 simply slid back and sank, the engine cowl on the Dejon was shattered, the transom cracked, I towed the Dejon back to shore. It all ended safely, it could have been a lot worse!
 
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