Being prepared is the most important thing when embarking on a Vancouver yachting trip. When it comes to the weather, you must be prepared for all of the eventualities as it can turn on you at any time. When particularly rough weather hits, the best course of action of course is to head back to shore where possible but where this is not possible or practical everyone aboard should be ready for the worst.
The preparation for heavy weather
There is plenty of opportunity to be prepared for heavy weather, if you have kept a proper lookout with a keen and well trained ‘weather-eye’, and also kept abreast of the latest developments over radio and other forms of mobile communications. What preparation is necessary will vary according to the type of boat, and the size and the design of the vessel.To be well prepared, determine position of storm, the direction of the wind, and the speed and the estimated time that the storm will take to get to you.
Predicting heavy weather
It can be impossible to predict the weather so to speak, but it is possible to learn some tell-tale signs of a storm approaching before it hits. If you sale regularly, or spend a healthy amount of time outdoors then you will already naturally know some of this. There is a smell in the air, a change in the wind, a glimpse of something different on the horizon. As many farmers say, you can smell rain coming, and many seamen can smell a storm on the horizon.
Prepare crew and emergency equipment
Ensure that all crew members know what to do in the case of severe weather, and also make sure anyone aboard knows where to find their personal floatation device and any other safety equipment they may need. It is also key that people remember to keep low in the boat, not go out on deck unnecessarily, and not to move around too much. Ensure that all hatches, ports, windows, and anything else that could swing open or move around is tightly secured. This ensures that there is no risk of injury from things flying around, and also crucially keeps all the water out. Make sure you have the right safety equipment that can help keep you safe in a storm such as a VHF radio, hand pumps, bailers etc. You should also ensure that people wear the correct safety equipment as soon as you know bad weather is afoot and that the first aid kit is accessible.
Prepare emergency food and water
It is always the best idea to be prepared for bad weather when taking a boat trip. This also includes making sure you have enough food and water on board for if you happened to get stranded out on the water for longer than planned for whatever reasons. Running out of water is really not a fun place to be, nor is running out of food.
Things that skipper should consider
The skipper should have all of the knowledge, but these are a few key points to remember:
- When the storm hits, make a note of the boats positioning on the chart. Also make sure to take note of the time, your heading, and the speed at which you are travelling.
- If possible, turn to avoid the storm or head back to land
- Make sure the lifeboats are ready to be deployed if abandonment is needed at any point
- Turn navigation lights on and change to a full fuel tank where possible
- Be aware of floating debris and other boats that may have gone off course
- Make sure all aboard are briefed on what to do in case of emergency weather conditions before you set sail
There will always be times when tricky weather hits from out of nowhere, but you can be prepared even for that. Having clear safety procedures that are known by all crew and other people on board is the first step. The second is having a good degree of common sense for when bad weather hits. Never take anything for granted, and always double check things. Yachting in heavy weather isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is doable, and any weather can be overcome and a successful trip can follow it.