As part of the International Safe Boating Week, we delve into crucial topics that ensure a safe and enjoyable day at sea. In this article, we will discuss how the size of your boat influences your decision to venture out into the sea, especially on a windy day in the UAE.

Understanding Waves and Swell

The most significant factor affecting the water is waves. While they can be annoying, especially if you are prone to seasickness, in the wrong mix of conditions, they can pose a considerable threat of capsizing or swamping a boat. Waves are created when wind moves across the water, transferring its energy. However, waves are also influenced by other factors such as gravity, tides, currents, and the duration of the wind blowing on the water (known as fetch).

Swell, on the other hand, is the remnants of weather events that occurred some distance away, like a storm. Swell can travel long distances and may indicate an approaching storm as the energy radiates from the source. The water’s depth can also influence the swell, causing it to get taller and closer together as the depth decreases.

Assessing Your Boat’s Capabilities

It is essential to assess swell and waves by observing how easily your boat moves through the water. As conditions get tougher, the skipper must reduce the boat’s speed to match the conditions. For example, a small tinny should operate safely up to a wave height of about 0.5 meters. However, at around 1.0 meter of wave height, there is a serious risk of being swamped or capsized.

Larger boats, such as those up to 6.0 meters in length, can run at cruising speeds in waves of up to 0.8 meters with relative comfort. However, a 6.0-meter boat will struggle in 2.0-meter waves, even with the bilge pump running.

Planning Your Trip

It is crucial to learn how to read a weather forecast accurately. While conditions may not be suitable on larger stretches of water, enclosed waters and inlets in the UAE may be well protected from wind, waves, and swell. Also, be cautious with tides. Wind against tide creates short, choppy, and confused waves that tend to stand taller.

Plan your trips so that if you go out in the morning calm, the tide runs in the same direction as the building breeze in the afternoon.

When to Turn Around

If you think conditions are too rough, it is best to turn around. Sometimes, perfect conditions along a channel can turn challenging as you reach a larger body of water. Pick your moment to turn around carefully, and complete the turn before the next wave hits the boat.

There is no shame in turning around if conditions seem too challenging. If you have family onboard, be conservative about conditions. One rough day at sea could discourage someone from joining you for a second trip.


Always talk to people about your planned destination and when you plan to go. If someone has already visited the site, they may have valuable insights into where to go, when, and under what weather conditions. Remember, safety should always be your priority when boating in the UAE or anywhere else.