In case of a severe storm, it is important to follow some precautionary measures. You should first ensure that you have all your safety equipment on board, then keep the boat away from large waves, if you feel any danger, get back to land ASAP.
If you are caught in a storm, use your judgment and do whatever is safest for yourself and your crew. If your boat will not survive a big storm, abandon the ship and let your boat sink.
As a skipper, you are responsible for the safety of your crew and boat. Before leaving port, check your navigation lights, fire extinguishers & other equipment to make sure they are working properly.
What should you do in a severe storm in your boat?
Make sure all onboard equipment is in good working condition (such as fenders, anchors, outboard). Keeping the boat’s equipment in good working order will prevent accidents and save time when you need it.
Slow down speed
Slow down the boat – Slow down to a safe speed. You should be able to see where you’re going, and your equipment should be in good working order. Use the engine carefully – it could fail at any time, so avoid overusing it, and make sure the fuel tank is full before you leave port.
Adjust the course
Steer Your Boat – It’s your responsibility to keep your boat under control. Make sure you have the right steering equipment on board and that it is working properly. Don’t overload your boat – check how much weight it can hold before you leave port.
Listen to the weather forecast
Keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared to leave if a storm is coming. Check the latest weather forecast before you sail. You can get a brief weather report from Marine Radio or the National Weather Service, but for more detailed forecasts you can use an on-board computer system, or go to the official NOAA website.
If you are going to travel into a storm, listen to weather reports and take them seriously. If they say conditions are severe, stay ashore.
Stay in a safe place
If you are in shallow water, anchor your boat until the storm passes. If you are in a boat without an anchor, tie the rudder to the tiller. This will keep your boat from drifting in heavy seas.
Inform someone ashore of your position (and when you left) so if they don’t hear from you again, they can send help.
Stow unneeded Objects
Don’t let unnecessary objects get in the way and end up sinking your boat. Make sure all passengers have a good boat seat or hold on to an area of the boat where they won’t interfere with moving parts.
Be aware of a collision
Stay away from the crowdy traffic route if possible – the current can be stronger near shorelines and rocks. Some of the strongest currents can be found in channels between islands. In heavy seas, stay away from other small boats; you could lose control and collide with them.
Stay away from metal objects. Metal objects like handrails or cleats can be electrified by lightning. Turn off personnel electronics as they could potentially interfere with navigation equipment on the boat. Check all navigation equipment and instruments, such as radar and GPS, to make sure they are working properly.
Train you crews
Make sure your crew knows how to use flares in case of an emergency; if another boat is headed towards you or a rock near land, fire a flare to warn them. Make sure your crew knows how to use the radio. They should not only practice using it before you leave but have a backup plan if the radio malfunctions.
Make water tightness
If you are taking on water, bail the water out as quickly and safely as possible. Make sure any open containers are tightly sealed to prevent any more water from getting inside.
Close windows and latches to keep from taking on water when you’re in a storm. Bail out all water in 90 seconds or less – don’t let 1 gallon of water sink a boat. Make sure everyone knows how to bail and where the bailers are located. Use bilge pump carefully.
Wear life jacket
Put on life jackets before getting in the water for safety. Always wear your life jackets in the water. Life jackets will keep you afloat if you fall overboard and could save your life. If you are on a raft or other flotation device, stay away from other small boats.
Stay calm – panicking will only make things worse. If your boat capsizes, try to relax and don’t struggle. Use a swimming motion to get back to the surface. Try to stay together with the rest of your crew in case you are separated by waves or tides.
Stay with the boat as long as possible. Only abandon your boat if you are in danger of being washed overboard, or if a storm surge is coming that will sink the boat.
Get to shore as quickly as possible. If you can’t get to shore, find a safe place and wait it out.