Power of Waves

Article about the power of waves over ships


John F Kennedy said "We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came."  What does it take to actually capsize a boat or a yacht or a cruise ship? It would take a wave that has a height of Half The Length of the ship's Hull. So for example, if a Ship is 131 Feet in Length or 40 Meters in Length, it would take a Wave that would be 20 Meters Tall in Height to make the 40 meters long Ship capsize (flip over). Waves are caused by the force of gravity and the size of a wave lowers and rises based on the distance of the Moon in relation to the Earth. High tides and low tides are directly caused by the Moon. So, if a Wave has a height of at least Half of the Length of a Ship, then the Ship will capsize. A Catamaran (Two Hull) or Trimaran (Three Hull) is more difficult to capsize (flip over) than a Mono-Hull (One Hull), but they can also capsize if the Wave's Height is at least Half of the Length of their ship. Obviously, the weight distribution of the vessel, its gross tonnage weight, its displacement, draft, and other factors play a key role in stability, but in theory alone, a ship can be capsized if the wave reaches a height that is half of the length of the ship. There are many sailors that have learned the hard way by attempting to sail in to the eye of a hurricane. Theoretically, the eye of a hurricane is the safest place. For the many sailors that have tried and failed, they learned the difficult way that you cannot defeat the waves. Any ship can capsize (flip over), if the height of the wave hitting it is at least Half of the Length of the ship. The power of waves should not be under-estimated in a trans-oceanic voyage and charts should be used to map out the best routes to travel to prevent an accident. A professional Captain will know the best and safest routes to take to prevent damage to the vessel and to her passengers and cargo. Failing to plan a voyage, failing to perform maintenance, and failing to respect the power of the waves can lead to incidents that could have been avoided.