When you are out at sea, the weather conditions can turn unfavorable at a moment’s notice and you may not have enough time to get yourself back to the harbor before a storm rolls in.
While it is always best to research potential weather patterns and check in with the Coast Guard before embarking on your journey, knowing what to do in the midst of an unexpected storm can not only protect you from injury and your boat from damage but could potentially save your life as well.
Whether you have been boating for years or are new to the sport, here are several tips to keep you safe while out on your boat during a storm.
Install a Lightning Rod
Sailing during a thunderstorm is extremely dangerous and is even more so when your boat has no grounding to protect it and you from potential lightning strikes. A single bolt of lightning can contain up to 1 billion volts of electricity, which is more than enough to cause serious damage, injury, or even death.
Lightning always takes the most direct route to the ground, so it is important to install a lightning rod with a metal plate that makes contact with the water under your boat.
Should a lightning strike ever hit the lightning rod on your boat, the electricity will be guided down the rod and to the plate, where it will then disburse into the water.
Always Carry Personal Protection Equipment
Emergency rafts, flares, and life jackets should be kept on your vessel at all times. A massive storm can stir up waves that are up to 50 feet tall as well as cause severe winds that can blow your boat over.
Weather conditions like this can beat and damage your boat, as well as ruin electronics and mechanical equipment.
There may be a time where your boat takes on too much water and starts to sink, and you will need your personal protective equipment in order to evacuate your boat.
Emergency flares will notify other boats and the Coast Guard that you are in danger and need to be rescued. A life raft and life jacket will keep you above water until you can be rescued.
Ride the Waves the Right Way
If you find yourself in a situation in which you can’t safely get to shore before a storm hits, you should be prepared to ride out the waves the right way.
The rule of thumb is to slow your travel speed down so that you ride up and over the waves as opposed to sailing head-on through them. Driving through the waves can cause catastrophic amounts of water to land on the bow of your boat, causing it to sink.
You should also pay special attention to the direction of the waves so that you can avoid the waves coming up over the side of your boat, which can roll it over quickly and cause the boat to capsize.
Document Your Travel Plans
Make sure your travel plans are carefully documented so that others know where to find you should you lose your communication devices during a storm.
Check in with the Coast Guard before heading out on your sailing adventure and give your coordinates to friends or family. While you are out sailing, be sure to stick to your travel route so your boat can be found quickly if there is an emergency.
Find a Shoreline
Staying safe during a severe storm involves planning ahead and knowing where the nearest shoreline or harbor is before you head out to sea. In the event of a storm, seek shelter at the shoreline and wait for the storm to pass.
Knowing what to do during a turbulent storm can prevent boat damage as well as save your life. A boat is a big investment and it is important for you to prepare for whatever weather may come your way.
Plan ahead so you can avoid being out at sea during a storm, but if one were to creep up on you while you are out there, be sure your boat is safe to ride it out.