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  # 298

Heavy Weather Powerboating
Review by: Kevin Goulding


Heavy Weather Boating

Bear Grylls endorses this must read
publication for power boaters

South African NSRI Rescue RIB
Breaking Thro' the Surf Line


A well-found semi-displacement vessel
takes a wave 'broadside' in a F8 plus gale

The books editor, Hugo Montgomery-Swan shares an 'Incident Pit' experience during a photo-shoot


A New Nautical Bible
Adlard & Coles, the renown publisher of nautical books, has succeeded once again in bringing to the forefront an area of seamanship which has been sadly missing. To complement its authoritative offshore sailors bible of Heavy Weather Sailing this latest book brings together Heavy Weather Powerboating experiences, considerations and techniques. Stories from both offshore waters and especially for most power boaters the inshore waters which account for the vast majority of powercraft losses are shared.

This first edition contains seven sections and eighteen chapters written by some fourteen leading–light authors, brought together and edited by Hugo Montgomery-Swan. It shares knowledge learned by skippers of powered boats from coxswains of the RNLI, professional skippers from a varied set of disciplines through to committed power boat enthusiasts. All in all a remarkable publication which is destined to become a best seller alongside the classic heavy weather sailing books focussed mainly towards sail boat skippers.

RNLI Heroes
The story about Dick Evans and the Molfre lifeboat crew’s dramatic and perilous rescue of the crew from the coaster Hindlea in Oct 1959 had the hairs standing on the back of my neck as I relived the drama through the pages of the text. It was especially poignant as I’ve experienced huge, but stable, waves in this area which is renown for its awesome passages, fortunately not in a hurricane force storm. A remarkable feat of seamanship, this classic record illustrates very well the courage, skill and teamwork associated with the brave men of the RNLI.

The dangers of a lee shore are re-iterated throughout the chapters of the book, and the Penlee tragedy brings this to the fore. The clear message throughout emphasises never to put yourself in a position whereby your only refuge in heavy seas is a lee shore.

Mal de Mer
A dedicated chapter tackles seasickness as anyone, contrary to popular belief, can fall foul of this condition. The book provides sound guidance on what to look out for, what precautions to take and what treatment to give. Prevention is better than cure and from personal experience I’ve been unfortunate to succumb to the ‘mal de mer’ seriously on two occasions. On one of these I’d have gladly considered pulling the trigger if a firearm had been held to my head. Fortunately prevention is easy, don’t carry firearms! Seriously though the book addresses this life-threatening debilitating condition and remains something which has to be managed to ensure that power boating is still enjoyed to the full.

Rogue Waves & Black Holes
Some awesome photographs of rough seas and freak waves are included along with a description of the current thinking behind the circumstances which can generate vertical waves, rogue waves and black holes. The phenomena behind the perfect storm of 1991 is simply explained. Weather forecasting for power boaters is included which provides another tool in the armour for the prevention of disaster at sea.

Records & Racing
Surprisingly the book includes two chapters on both circuit racing and offshore endurance record breaking. These are for powerboats which are essentially built to a very high power to weight ratio specification. The weather strategy with these types of powerboats is to have relatively becalmed conditions, even delaying record attempts until the sea conditions are as near perfect as possible. Nevertheless the techniques, strategies, equipment and planning considerations are well worthy of inclusion in this publication.

Theory & Practice
Some excellent chapters on construction methods are included, with the processes described in sufficient depth to enable readers to make sound judgements. Ergonomics is well covered to encourage that the needs of crew and cox are adequately catered for, with some horror stories on what boat builders can do when they don't go out to sea in their own boats!

Shock mitigation issues are discussed including the remarkable fact that high speed watercraft impacts of 25G are not uncommon, while that of a racing car driver is 4G, a fighter pilot sees 10G with an ejecting pilot 16-20G. Good enough reasons to prepare your craft for heavy seas.

The book informs and educates by example and experience but it’s not until the end that mastering the waves addresses the task of theory and practice. No discussion is prompted concerning the deployment of sea anchors and perhaps a chapter about the considerations when operating offshore in seas with deadheads and growlers may be useful in a second edition.

It’s fair to say that not many power boaters will be unfortunate enough to experience the extreme rogue conditions described in some chapters of the book and be fortunate enough to return to tell the tale. Sailboats with their much slower speeds do have a greater affinity with the wind and the waves bringing more real life experiences from adverse weather to print. This makes the content of this book even more remarkable and the lessons learned to be appreciated by the discerning reader.

It’s an exceptional book written by exceptional people. This is one ‘bible’ which should be read by any self-respecting power boater, then berthed on the bookshelf for sober regular reference.

Published by Adlard Coles Nautical
ISBN: 978-0-7136-8871-9

Available June 2010, £25.00
Order online for a 10% discount at:
Heavy Weather Powerboating

May 2010