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What factors most make a skiff seaworthy? Thinking about the skiff challenge and my own experience has me wondering. The skiffs in the challenge may face snotty conditions, why did the companies select their respective model? I run a 58 year old 13 Whaler. Yesterday I was running back against a 1 to 2 chop with some true 3's intermixed, when the motor sputtered and then just died. There I was caught in a washing machine with no power, but I still felt safe. A quick assessment found that the fuel hose had popped off the fuel tank, perhaps from the rough conditions. Got it back on and pumped the bulb, and got started again. The old whaler, will pound you, but gets you home when it kicks up. I imagine it is a combo of a lot of things, but what is most important, beam, length, hull design, freeboard, weight..... Or just bigger?? Just musing for when I decide on a skiff.
 

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I've realized that a PLB or EPIRB is the most bombproof solution. All it takes is one wave, or a spark, or some stupid problem to leave you stranded, sunk, etc.

Get a good PLB or Epirb, make sure your boat and systems are on point, and then go push the limits of the boat and do whatever you want
 

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Most of these little skiffs float like a cork and most have decent bows on them. Keep them pointed into the bad stuff and I feel pretty safe in one. Running an inlet with a big following sea or anchored up off the stern can get dicey fast.
 
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Fly-By-Night
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What factors most make a skiff seaworthy? Thinking about the skiff challenge and my own experience has me wondering. The skiffs in the challenge may face snotty conditions, why did the companies select their respective model? I run a 58 year old 13 Whaler. Yesterday I was running back against a 1 to 2 chop with some true 3's intermixed, when the motor sputtered and then just died. There I was caught in a washing machine with no power, but I still felt safe. A quick assessment found that the fuel hose had popped off the fuel tank, perhaps from the rough conditions. Got it back on and pumped the bulb, and got started again. The old whaler, will pound you, but gets you home when it kicks up. I imagine it is a combo of a lot of things, but what is most important, beam, length, hull design, freeboard, weight..... Or just bigger?? Just musing for when I decide on a skiff.
What factors most make a skiff seaworthy? In the shortest answer, The Capt.

Another really important thing is the ability to get the bow up, that means not having the lower unit above the bottom of the hull like many tunnel boats do, and if they are, having enough travel on a jack plate to get it down low enough you can trim up a bit and lift the bow. Most of the time the worst you'll see in these boats is inlets and passes. In those situations with a following sea never try to overtake a wave, get the bow up (keep it up) and ride on the back of the wave matching speed until you're out of the stacked up water. In stacked up head sea I get the bow up high once again and quarter the waves to keep from stuffing the bow (if they're that tall).

Just my method, and what I've been taught, not saying that's the gospel.
 

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I don't think you are going to find a modern design as stable as those old Whalers. The old Whalers had a wide beam for the short length and the cathedral hull. A lot of surface area in the water. It had its ride problems when it got choppy. Many new designs are a 4 to 1 ratio and ride better, but can be a little tippy at rest.
 

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There's no true "skiff" that's sea worthy in my opinion. Get caught in a squall in deep water and you're done especially if you don't truly know how to operate in rough conditions. When the tops of the waves are over your shoulders and you're riding between sets it will be a mistake you'll never forget and will probably choose not to repeat no matter what boat you own.
 

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Length, beam, freeboard, flotation, load distribution and bow design are all important considerations. But 35-foot center consoles can get in trouble in a nasty inlet. A great deal depends on seamanship or the operating skills of the driver. Common sense is also critical. A technical poling skiff is designed to float and run in shallow water. So when it does get rough, using that to your advantage will get you home safely. If you go with a reputable builder and plan your trips according to expected weather/conditions, you should be safe in most circumstances. Those skiff owners who try to run offshore to grouper fish on a summer afternoon are just asking for trouble, however, and will become a USCG statistic sooner or later.

As Dirty Harry once said, a man has to know his limitations. ;)
 
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