Boating safety is a top priority at Freedom Boat Club, where we provide our members with both classroom and on-water training to ensure they feel confident and secure when taking out a boat for the first time. One of the key lessons we teach is how to safely approach and cross the wake of another boat.
Crossing a wake can be a daunting experience for newer boaters, but it's essential to do so safely. Improper wake crossing is the second leading cause of personal injury to boaters and their guests, after dock-related injuries sustained during boat entry or exit. It can lead to severe injuries, such as spinal compression and disc hernias, particularly if the boat is travelling at high speeds or the wake is approached from the wrong angle.
Here are five essential tips to help you safely cross a wake and take responsibility for the safety of your crew:
Alert Your Passengers
As soon as you realize that you'll be crossing a wake, let your passengers know. Ensure that they are securely seated and aware of what's happening.
Move Away from the Wake
Try to move away from the boat producing the wake as safely as possible. The further you are from the boat, the smaller the wake will be. However, make sure that you stay within the channel and keep an eye out for other boats in the area.
Prepare to Slow Down
If your boat is on plane, reduce your speed to where the boat just comes off plane. This will lift the bow up and create a "cushioned effect" on the wake. It also reduces the chance of "diving the bow" onto the second wave.
Approach the Wake at a 45 Degree Angle
Avoid turning into the wake and continue heading parallel to the other boat. This allows the boat to "roll" over the wake instead of jumping over it. By staying parallel to the other boat, you'll also remain positioned correctly on your side of the channel.
Re-Accelerate Once You've Crossed the Wake
After you've crossed the wake, re-accelerate to return the boat back on plane.
Remember to wake up and slow down to keep you and your crew safe on the water. By following these five essential safety tips and practicing them regularly, you'll be well-equipped to handle any wake-crossing situation that comes your way. Stay safe and have fun!