One of the first times I ran outside the harbor on my own, the waves were small and relatively smooth. But when I returned a couple of hours later, the tide had changed against the wind, the chop had turned into waves, and the breeze had gone from eight to about fifteen knots. And, of course I was coming downwind with following sea. In a 14-foot centerboard boat. With all the vast experience and skill of a 12-year old.
Eased the centerboard up, surfed down the face of the wave, stuffed the bow and broached the boat. After what seemed like a dozen times almost righting the boat, a real sailor came up (in a power boat) and instructed me on getting the main in the boat, the boat upright and into the harbor, wet cold and alive. I’ve tried to repeat the experience in larger boats, but was unable to replicate the conditions, probably because there’s usually crew aboard who don’t want to get that wet, and I have many more years of experience driving boats. I’ve even tried to do the same thing with a power boat, almost succeeding due largely to inattention.
Three basic lessons learned for following seas:
The oft used cliche “Slower is smoother, and smoother is fast” sounds odd, but it applies. You’ll reach your destination both drier, and happier.