How Waves Influence Navigation in the Ocean

March 7, 2024

Waves are a source of energy to be reckoned with, especially when navigating in the ocean. Navigation in rough waters has always been a challenge. There is no proper road or sign to find the right route. Nonetheless, with the progress in technology, the process has become much easier. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, the typical height of waves around Singapore is about 0.5–1 meter. With various navigational aids, like GPS, VHF radio, buoys and beacons, Singapore has become a bustling spot for business.

In this article, we’ll discuss how waves play a major role in navigation in the ocean:

How do ocean waves form?

The ocean remains in constant flux, generating waves through its ceaseless movement, gravitational influences, and wind patterns. Energy circulates within the ocean in a circular manner. When the wind sweeps across the surface, it stirs up the water, resulting in the formation of surface waves. While wind plays a major role in forming waves, there are also tidal waves influenced by gravitational forces.

While waves may rock your boat causing it to move up and down, the water itself swirls in a circular motion, maintaining the energy needed to drive the waves ahead. The energy generated by surface waves also influences the water beneath, but its circular motion reduces as the depth of the water rises, eventually causing the waves' energy to be scattered.

When a vessel faces a large wave, this increases its speed, leading to a significant shift in direction. For novice mariners, they may lose direction and enter into a forbidden zone leading to a higher chance of collision. Therefore, it’s recommended to equip the vessel with beacon radar. This safety equipment can aid in

  • Identifying lighthouses
  • Positioning landfalls and costlines
  • Marking out navigable spans under bridges
  • Locating offshore oil platforms and similar structures
  • Spotting and being alert to environmentally sensitive areas

Navigating large waves

Navigation in the ocean is not always smooth. Even a sunny day can become dark with clouds in a few hours. Hence, when navigating through turbulent waters, it's crucial to ride atop the waves rather than confronting them directly. This strategy helps prevent the waves from pushing the boat off balance and keeps it stable. The best way to stay on top of large waves is to reduce speed, at times to turn off the engine and angle the boat at approximately 45 degrees towards the coming waves. This positioning allows for a direct approach to the waves.
Wealth Marine Pte Ltd is a supplier of radar beacons in Singapore. Click here to check it out!

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