By Thomas P.

It is true that we often hear about «great» captains who «flatten» the waves with their unbelievable Ribs, even waves created by winds of 7 or 8 bf. Of course, they never talk about waves created by winds of 5 or 6bf, considering these winds of negligible intensity.

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Certainly, big inflatable boats and advanced hulls of recent years have greatly improved performance, while waves are handled more efficiently. We have come to the point that we do not care about the 4bf-seas, while in some 5bf-seas we can travel with relative ease, though there are 5bf-seas which are too tough. Not to mention that things are getting even harder when we travel with winds more than 5bf.

We must always keep in mind that 5bf winds raise waves of 2 meters height, while when winds of 6 Beaufort blow, the waves can reach 4 meters high. This does not mean, as some people think, that when the wave is doubled in height, the intensity of the wind is doubled as well. When, for example, the 2-meter-height wave at 5 beauforts reaches the height of 4 meters, it does not mean that the wind has reached 10 beauforts. It's only a strong 6bf wind.
Therefore, 6bf is not just a little stronger than 5bf. In fact, it can be two times the 5bf. If we actually realize the height of the 3 or 4-meters waves, then we may realize that we should be more careful when referring to such weather conditions.

The 6bf-seas are too tough and travelling is not easy at all. The waves are so high and their power is so tremendous that they are forcing us in tacking, changing continuously our course, even if we are riding in following seas. Our speed is limited reaching the levels of a sailing boat, the fore and aft movements of the throttles are continuous, the poundings of the bow inevitable and the spray dramatical. A tough challenge is set in front of us, and if we are about to travel for many miles, it is wiser to change our course. Our main «weapon» to deal with such heavy seas, is our experience and perception, while the size of the rib and the design of its hull are of secondary importance. I have faced 6bf-seas which have broken brackets, unglued tubes, dragged entire tents, thrown auxiliary engines to the sea, and I was desperate to find the harbour’s entrance, which literally disappeared because of the huge and threatening waves.

So let's keep in mind that 6bf-seas are too tough and we should face them as such, no matter whether we have a large rib or not. Definitely a 10 meter inflatable boat looks enormous and imposing on the trailer. But in a wild sea, it looks insignificant and is not even visible from a short distance.

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Of course you would wonder how all this can possibly happen in 6bf-seas, when we often hear about unbelievable hulls and «great» captains who claim that they fly from crest to crest of big waves at full throttle.
So, shouldn’t we have second thoughts before we get lost in the paranoia of some people who try -each one for his own reasons- to present their boats as all-weather boats?

So, on the one hand, we can see some manufacturers and representatives of inflatable boats who exaggerate in promises and numbers in an effort to project and promote their ribs and become competitive in a market which is getting harder year by year. So they present their ribs as all-weather boats that can travel comfortably even in 7 or 8bf-seas.
On the other hand, some unscrupulous journalists also present inflatable boats that gallop in seas of 7 and 8 beaufort, essentially indicating to the future owners of these boats that they can travel the seas regardless of weather conditions.
Of course, we should not forget the show-off or arrogant owners of inflatable boats, the number of whom is constantly increasing. They consider themselves as top captains and in order to show-off their own abilities and their boat’s potentials with extraordinary arrogance and persuasiveness, they constantly recount their unbelievable cruises against the big waves. Last and foremost, I hear captains say: «I was coming back with 6bf-seas on my bow and the rib was riding amazing» or «I was heading in heavy seas and I had the throttle always down!» Some people may also be able to roll a cigarette in these weather conditions!

On the other hand, all these «all-weather» guys claim to respect the sea, obviously because they have heard that that’s what they should be doing. However, how would it be practically possible to respect the sea when its incredible fury is essentially ignored, a fury which can resemble hell in such circumstances? The exhibitionism, however, almost always has the opposite effect. Through these reactions a clear mediocrity is apparently obvious in a desperate effort for the inadequacy to be covered.<br?>All these above mentioned «sea-masters» could only be characterized as foolish and dangerous and there is no doubt that their «experiences» lack any basis to rely on. Most probably, when the winds flow strong they stay in the harbors or when they travel with strong 5bf winds they describe them as terrible 8bfs.

But this nonsense should come to an end at some point. Manufacturers, and article-writers in particular, need to understand that they subject many people to danger. Their false and dangerous views have a direct impact on forming people’s opinion and they tend to ignore how harmful the disorientation they cause to the seafriends, and especially to the «new» captains, can be.

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So, let’s stop mentioning the 7 and 8bf-seas so frequently and effortlessly. Because these numbers are constantly heard between the seafriends and the worse is that they are frequently mentioned and reported in articles of nautical magazines. These weather conditions are now regarded to be so trivial, that they are no longer considered to be prohibitive. We are so used to hearing about crazy rides in 7bf, that this information reaches our ears as perfectly normal. And I believe that this is where a great danger is hidden. Given the fact that these weather conditions are absolutely normal, common to face and easy to ride according to some «experienced» captains who travel with their «all-weather» ribs with great ease, a new captain can easily form the false impression that he can start his leisure trip with his huge brand new rib even in 7bf. Unfortunately, this captain, given his limited experience, is directly and substantially exposed to danger.

It is prudent to be limited to 4 and 5 beauforts in order to evaluate the boat's abilities, showing more respect to the sea and to ourselves, while deleting from our vocabulary the 7 and 8bf seas. The 7 and 8bf is not considered a measure of comparison of a good boat, but rather a proof of the ridiculousness of the show-off and unacquainted guys.
And in any case, the Sea is not a field of competition and demonstration. It is Journey, it is Joy and Dreaming moments, which eventually translate into Beautiful memories.

Let's forget the unbelievable hulls that will make us ride comfortably in heavy seas and let’s wish to never find ourselves in the abysses created by the 8bf winds. Let's look for hulls that will help us travel satisfactorily in 4 and 5bf-seas and leave the above for those who travel in their deep sleep.
No hull of any design or school can be imposed on large and threatening waves. How is it possible that 50 centimeters of the average draft even of a 10-meter inflatable or few centimeters of spray rails can be imposed on a sea that can swallow you along with the boat?
We have to understand that it is an uneven comparison, an unequal battle if you like.
Of course, there is an explanation. We have it in our blood to exaggerate everything.
Especially when it comes to our own boat!!!

...keep Ribbing!

 

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