Getting caught in a severe storm while out on your boat can be a scary and dangerous situation. Being prepared and knowing what actions to take can help ensure your safety and potentially save lives. Here are some important steps to follow if you find yourself caught in stormy conditions while boating.
Prepare Your Boat
- Reduce speed, but maintain enough throttle to keep control of steering. Going too fast can cause you to lose control or take on water.
- Close all hatches, windows and doors. This helps prevent water from entering the boat and causing flooding.
- Stow away loose items and secure gear on deck. Shifting cargo can become a hazard in rough waters.
- Turn on navigation lights and sound your horn if needed. This helps other boats see you.
- Disconnect electrical equipment if lightning is present. This prevents damage from power surges.
- Check bilges and be prepared to bail out water. Keeping bilges clear is critical.
- Consider putting out a sea anchor to maintain bow orientation into the waves. This provides stability.
Prepare Your Passengers
- Have everyone put on life jackets and secure them properly. This is crucial for safety.
- Sit passengers low and near the center of the boat. This provides balance and minimizes risk of falling overboard.
|Positioning Passengers for Safety||Reason|
|Have passengers sit low in the vessel||Keeping the center of gravity low improves stability|
|Have passengers sit near the centerline||Prevents the boat from leaning and capsizing|
|Keep passengers away from rails||Reduces risk of falling overboard|
Decide Whether to Go to Shore or Ride it Out
- Try to reach the nearest shore or safe harbour if possible. This is the best option.
- Avoid approaching the shore if waves and winds are too severe. Riding it out in open waters may be safer.
- Position the bow at a 45 degree angle to oncoming waves. This provides a smoother ride.
- Keep an eye out for debris, other boats and shallow water hazards. Take evasive action if needed.
- If the engine stalls, deploy a sea anchor to maintain bow orientation. This prevents capsizing.
- Anchor to avoid drifting if sea anchor is insufficient. Use conventional anchor from the bow.
Take Precautions if Caught in Lightning
- Stay low and away from metal objects. Lightning seeks the highest point.
- Avoid using electronic devices, especially the radio. Remove power cords.
- Have passengers remove jewelry and refrain from touching metal.
- Consider wearing rubber gloves when handling metal steering wheels.
- Seek shelter in enclosed cabin space if available. Avoid open areas.
Head to Shore As Soon As Safety Permits
- Even if the storm seems to have passed, lightning can still strike. Get to shore.
- Once at port, double up on dock lines for added strength against surge and winds.
- Keep electrical systems unplugged until the threat of lightning has fully passed.
- Avoid using canvas covers which can catch wind. Instead, tape down with plastic.
Staying calm, being prepared and taking the proper precautions can help ensure your safety if caught in stormy conditions while boating. Always check weather forecasts before heading out, and know how to respond if bad weather hits unexpectedly.