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SPECIAL REPORT: Analysis of a capsizing


EDITOR’S NOTE: As the formal inquiries into the July Fourth Long Island Sound tragedy continue, Soundings asked Eric Sorensen, a regular contributor, to discuss boat design principles, especially as they relate to seaworthiness and the physics of buoyancy and stability. Sorensen is the author of “Sorensen’s Guide to Powerboats”; consults for boatbuilders, the Navy and boat owners; and was the founding director of the J.D. Power and Associates Marine Practice.

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Real-world lessons

Sooner or later your boat-handling skills will be put to the test. Is your boat up to the task, and will you be on your game?

If you use your boat often enough and have the normal boater’s sense of adventure, it’s pretty likely that you’ll eventually find yourself in big seas. One minute you’re heading another five miles offshore to follow the fish reports. A few fish later and, the next thing you know, you look up from the fishbox to see that the wind has piped up and the 3- to 4-foot seas have turned into 5 to 6 feet — and growing.



Seaworthy designs are always moored in reality

The 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic sinking reminds us there are no guarantees when it comes to large 'unsinkable' vessels.If the idea needed reinforcement, there’s been plenty of it in the news recently — big ship or small boat, there’s no room for complacency at sea.

The media attention devoted to the 100th anniversary of the April 1912 Titanic disaster reminds us again that the term “unsinkable,” at least as it applies to larger ships, is not an absolute.



Sea trials: the method behind the madness

Running full speed and hard rudder aboard a 58-footer. If the boat is well balanced, it will heel in a turn so that you fall neither inboard nor outboard.Conducting a comprehensive sea trial is essential when buying a new or used boat. Do it right and you’ll obtain the data you need to purchase with confidence or move on. Do it wrong and you might end up buying a boat that’s a bad fit for you and your family.

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What to look for during a dockside walkthrough

You can get an idea of how a boat will run by examining such features as the hull's entry and where the chines run down below the waterline.When it comes to hull design, a smooth-riding boat is not only more comfortable but is also safer

Seldom can the heart and mind be more at odds than when falling hard for a boat and then inspecting it closely with a practiced eye. Although I can’t help with the palpitations, I can point you in the right direction when you evaluate whether her function lives up to her form.



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