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What Should You Do As a Sailor If Caught in Severe Storm Conditions?
Sail with a storm trysail and a deep reefed storm jib. The most control is given by this strategy. You can steer and control your boat amid the waves thanks to sails. Run ahead of the storm with the stern toward the waves and, if possible, a drogue being towed to slow the vessel.
What Should You Do as a sailed if you are caught in severe storm conditions? Here are some practical tips:
- Remain calm and keep a 360-degree eye on thunderclouds.
- Make a “Plan B” for safe ports and keep a cheat sheet of emergency radio protocol near the VHF radio.
- Stow any loose equipment safely until you need it.
Be sure to inform someone ashore of your intended route and when you’ll be back. And, of course, always know where your safety equipment is and how to use it.
A common adage for sailors: “Keep calm and sail on,” is often quoted by a severe friend. Unfortunately, storms often announce their approach with ominous signs in the sky. Unfortunately, keeping calm during stormy weather means returning to shore quickly. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with severe storms, including avoiding the worst weather before they hit.
First, the best way to prepare for stormy conditions is to keep track of the weather. A reliable method of tracking the weather is to use a barometer, which provides valuable information about changing air pressure. Combining this information with wind speed, you can predict a storm’s strength. In addition, keep an eye on the weather below and above your vessel. Strong sea currents make water “steep,” and you should take precautions to avoid being swept ashore.
During a storm, sailors should be aware of their position on the boat and ensure all crew members wear life jackets. If the conditions are wrong, you can install a lifeline to keep your crew on the boat. Remember that storms can last for days and even weeks, so a little common sense can go a long way. Eating a good meal beforehand can help boost morale.
Keeping a 360deg look-out for thunderclouds
Keeping a 360deg look out for thunderstorms while sailing in severe storm conditions means watching for unusual cloud formations, sudden changes in barometric pressure, and lightning in the sky. Bad weather is likely to be approaching if you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as lightning or cloud formations that appear out of nowhere.
Running for cover
While the weather can be unpredictable, sailing and severe storm conditions can always pose a risk. Before you leave, ensure that you are adequately protected and wearing a life jacket. Also, secure loose equipment in your boat with latches. Loose items can slide around and cause damage and injury. If possible, get back to shore as soon as possible. You can also try to figure out the best route to take.
Avoiding breaking waves
During severe storm conditions, sailing can be highly challenging. One way to survive is to learn how to avoid breaking waves. You can find out the height of a wave by reading a forecast or using wave buoy data. Another tip for avoiding breaking waves is to stay calm. You should also pay close attention to the flow of water over the rudder. When this happens, a boat can capsize or broach.
The most common technique for avoiding breaking waves is to steer off the crest of a wave. This will reduce the area of fetch and give you more sea room. Another way is to sail in the lee of the land, which will decrease the size of the waves. This way, you can avoid crashing over and getting rolled over. Avoid sailing upwind in such conditions.
Depending on where you are sailing in severe storm conditions, there are different strategies you can use to avoid breaking waves. If you are far from land, you can avoid approaching it. However, the waves will become steeper the closer you are to land. You risk being blown onshore and suffering severe material damage if you approach the shore. This is one of the reasons why it is essential to keep your distance from the shore.
Keeping a slow headway
Keeping a slow headway as a sailor in severe storm conditions is vital to staying afloat during a storm. As a rule, the faster you go, the bigger the chop. This is because you want to keep enough power to steer but not run out of fuel. In addition to making headway, slowing down will also provide a smoother ride. If you exceed the speed of the seas during a storm, you could lose control of the boat or suffer a costly hull failure.
Keeping a slow headway as a sailor in severe storm conditions involves changing course and taking the waves at an angle. This will change the extreme pitching motion into a rolling motion and give you a more comfortable ride. Likewise, a tacking motion will give you the extra speed needed to turn around in the head sea. Keeping a slow headway is especially important during a turn on high seas, requiring a skilled operator to make it.