Boat handling skills

Here is real boat handling skills on display:

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Or an instruction video from NZ:

You didn’t say they had to be good boat handling skills.


The coastguard in NZ is a totally volunteer organisation funded by subscription from recreational boat owners. One of the bars featured, the Manukau Bar, was one I regularly crossed as master of a 400 TEU feeder ship. On some occasions there was a tightening of a fundamental orifice drawing 6 metres with 5.8 metres CD plus 4 metres at HW. There was a signal station on a hill 400 metres up who gave some guidance on the bar conditions.

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My first experience with the phenomena of “surfing” was as a 16 year old being at the wheel of a 10000 dwt. cargo ship when entering Lisbon with a heavy swell running.
Suddenly I noticed that the ship did not answer helm as normal. I alerted the 3rd Mate at the telegraph just as the Pilot stormed in and shouted orders to reduce speed and try to maintain heading.

Later I learnt how to “ride the waves” with MTBs. When we run before big swells the Commander would be at the throttles, constantly adjusting speed, while it was my job as the Coxswain to steer such as to avoid hitting the waves at 90 degr. and dive the boat into the next wave at the down slope.

More knowledge of this was learnt in the South Pacific, running surf boat full of cargo over reefs or onto beaches on islands with no ports.
PS>This was before HSE was invented. Neither me nor my crew of 5 kanakas wore lifejackets during the process.

I should have mentioned that I had a pilotage exemption. Surf boats bring back memories. Dressed in a pair of shorts and coppertone sun tan lotion loading a 19 tonne airport fire tender on two surf boats lashed together and running it through a reef entrance in Aitutaki

I know they are suppose to be worn but sometimes they just get in the way…That said it is best that they be worn for those at risk of going over the side and be damn close at hand for all others (while riding the surf).

Boat handling 101, They’ll get out of the way


We did something similar at Lord How Island, delivering a large dump truck for the airport construction. The body was cut in two, while the box was intact. (Welders arrived by flying boat from Sydney to put it back together)

The method used; two surf boats lashed together, using hatch beams and wooden covers to form a platform to carry the cargo.

No “surfing” as such, since the opening in the reef was wide enough to tow the boats into the lagoon with our motor lifeboat and the beach landing was protected. A “ramp” had been prepared and a bulldozer was available to haul the cargo off the boats at the landing.

Landing 10-12 t. cargo on the surf boats in open water with an old fashion 15 t. SWL Jumbo Derrick was rather existing though, although it was one of the better days at Lord How as far as swell goes.

For those not familiar with surf boats, here is one under tow into Norfolk Island:

That is not me on top of the cargo, but the ship is from the same company; Karlander New Guinea Lines.

Yes I agree, but we did not think of that back in them days.
I have thought of it many times later, when I have been preaching safety to sometimes unimpressed crews. (Not only life jackets, but all the other “stunts” that was common practise in my young and tender days)

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A different kind of boat handling skills are required when it comes to OSV, especially for Anchor Handling Operation.
For those who are not familiar with A/H operation, here is a training video that shows how the operation works on an AHT in the North Sea:

It is way ahead of this operation on an older version of AHT in rough weather off the Dutch coast:

This may be a few years behind how things are done on present day’s large and complex AHTs, with manipulators etc., able to handle anchors in water depths exceeding 2000 m.
Here the Skandi Vega, the world’s most powerful AHT in action:

PS> I noticed in this video they do not use the two manipulators at all.

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This movie was what I used to study for my 2nd unlimited and 1600 master… I think if you have enough views of the movie you can actually forego the advanced ship handling course… (call your local REC for clarification)

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I Worked with the Smit Lloyd 105. Back then a lot of things were missing from today’s scene and only the work life vests are unchanged.
It looks like today’s crew get a lot more miles out of a pair of overalls than we did.

Njord Viking handling anchors in good weather:

They are using the manipulators. (At least the cameras to film this video)

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I love to see good boat handling at every level. And these days when everyone has a video camera in their phone you just know that if you over cook it, (and we all have), someone will be there and post it on youtube. Indeed you can waste hours watching other peoples mistakes.

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I remember when the Old Man and I would come ashore in Port Everglades and drink our dinner, uh, I mean have some oysters and beer at the Southport Raw Bar. We would sit at the back bar that overlooks the end of one of the channels. Our entertainment was watching folks maneuver their boats and judging their boat handling skills. . . fun times. . . the more we drank, the worse they got. . .


Ballard Locks is another good place to do that. Multitudes of idiots who have no business on the water. Good times!

Anchor handling ? I’ve heard of that.

Boat handling skill the old fashion way: (Be patient and turn up the sound)

I’m sure the boys with their plastic buckets fitted with z-drive and bow thrusters are envious.


That was my favorite maneuver in Scamp (~ten metre cruising auxiliary sloop). But she was cut away somewhat forward so it went faster.

The mark of a great ship handler is to never get into a situation which requires great ship handling.