BOATING IN BAD WEATHER: HOW TO STAY SAFE

Ideally, you’ll check the weather forecast and stay clear of going out on the water in bad weather. But what if you’re at sea when a storm hits? What do you do if the fog gets worse than you thought?

The ability to deal with adverse weather conditions is essential for a boat captain.

We’re here to assist you in determining the best solution.

WATCH WEATHER FORECASTS

The most effective strategy to deal when it rains is to steer clear of it. Prior to every trip, it is important to be aware of the weather forecast and not just look at whether you’re getting rain or not. Be aware of clouds and wind speeds, as well as other variables that can affect the course of your trip. As a seasoned captain of a boat, you’ll have a clear idea of how these conditions could affect your boat. If you’re not experienced, stay in the direction of caution, take your time, and only leave when you’re comfortable with your abilities to navigate in these conditions.

Be aware of any changes to the forecast as you move closer to departure. Weather forecasts change rapidly, and the forecast for the morning might not be up to date at the time you arrive on the vessel.

TYPES OF BAD BOATING WEATHER

There are several principal kinds of bad weather that can be experienced on your vessel:

  • Thunderstorms. They typically bring high storms, severe rains and lightning. Each is a different danger. Wind can cause rough water and cause damage to your boat, and heavy rains can make it difficult to discern, and lightning may damage your vessel or passengers on it.
  • The high winds. High winds alone can create problems. Massive waves and challenging conditions for navigation can create problems even for captains who are competent.
  • Fog. Foggy weather obstructs your vision and makes accidents and collisions much more likely. Also, it makes the rescue effort more difficult.

DEALING WITH ROUGH WATERS

In the event of high winds or thunderstorms, the biggest issue will be rough water.

These are the methods that will help you get through:

  • Make sure your passengers are secured and don Lifejackets. Lifejackets are essential lifesaving devices that help keep your (and those around you) on the right side of the water if you do slip and fall off the board. Although many experts recommend you to wear lifejackets at all times, particularly when your vehicle is moving, the devices are mandatory during particularly bad weather. They may be the only item that keeps you alive.
  • Secure all hatches, ports, doors, and windows. Take a moment to lock all hatches, ports, doors, and windows to keep water from entering the vessel.
  • Protect your equipment. If you have an expensive or valuable piece of equipment, put it in a place where it won’t be a risk to your safety. This is in addition to safeguarding those on your boat.
  • Find your emergency gear. Bailers, hand pumps, signaling devices as well as first-aid kits might be required in the near future. Prepare any emergency supplies.
  • Make sure the bilges are dry. Pump the bilges dry on a regular basis to limit the risk.
  • Draw your current position along with your route. Take a moment to map your position and course, which will make the rescue mission simpler if it is required.
  • Follow updates on the weather. Pay attention to the weather information in your VHF receiver (or using another type of communication technology). This can aid in improving your navigation and increase your chances of coming out without injury. In the UK, You can reach the National Coastwatch Institution via maritime VHF channel 65 for the most current information on local weather conditions as well as the current sea state.
  • Set the lights on your boat’s navigation. Even if you think your vision isn’t terribly impaired, switch the lights on for your navigation. They are not just useful for lighting the area around you but also to make your boat more noticeable to rescuers who may need it.
  • Go towards the wind at 45 degrees. If there are high winds, you should consider taking a tack at 45-degree angles. This reduces the potential for resistance and makes it simpler to control your boat.
  • Beware of lightning risks. Lightning can pose a danger both to passengers and you. Avoid metal and tall objects that can be magnets for lightning bolts.
  • Slow with a steady pace. It’s wise to slow down your speed and move into the unknown with caution, and staying consistent is the best option.
  • Send a Mayday text message in case you are worried about losing your yacht. If things get difficult and you are worried about losing your boat, don’t hesitate to share an email message on Mayday.

DEALING WITH FOG

If you are experiencing fog as your main issue, try these methods.

  • Mark your location. Just like in the event of a storm, it is important to record your location and the course. This makes it easier for other people to locate you in case you’re lost.
  • Switch on lighting for navigation. Navigation lights can assist you to navigate through fog and visually communicate your position to other people.
  • Lower the speed of your boat. Going slower makes it less likely that you will encounter another vessel; you’ll be able to observe what’s happening in your immediate vicinity and have more time to react to it.
  • Get your passengers’ help in spotting and listening. When you’re in a fog, you likely depend on all your senses in order to discern what’s happening in the surrounding area. It’s generally useful to ask your passengers for assistance in identifying objects and to listen to the events.
  • Make sure to blast your horn at least every 2 minutes. Boat captains should blow the horn one time (for four to six seconds) while the boat is moving and sound the horn two times in the event of a stoppage. This provides an audible signal to the other captains to recognize your location.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPERIENCE

Whatever expertise you’ve gained, no matter how much experience you have, bad weather can pose an issue for you as well as your passengers. However, having more experience is always a great choice when it comes down to dealing with adverse weather conditions. As you become more familiar with the fundamentals of boatmanship, then you’ll be more comfortable in limiting the negative effects of moderate to mild bad weather.

 

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