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Vessel wave wake in deep water is well understood, shallow water less so, specifically the effect of restricted water. This operational zone is highly dynamic and non-linear in nature, thus being worthy of closer examination. The paper reviews the primary mechanisms for unsteadiness in wave wake: starting acceleration and soliton generation. A comprehensive set of experiments was conducted using an NPL catamaran hull form to investigate unsteadiness in both wave height and wave angle. The results show that the unsteadiness was primarily due to soliton generation, and that blockage has a significant effect. As a result, additional metrics, aimed at defining shallow water effects in the transcritical region, are proposed.