Since boating safety should always be the top priority, it is a given that boats should not set out when it is gusty out there. But what if it does. Then, which safety precaution should be taken first by a boat operator when boating in stormy weather?
For this article, we’ll take a look at a specific situation when our boat gets caught in dangerous weather conditions and what should be considered and given priority. We should not want to find ourselves in this situation, but it is still important to know about.
Keep reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
- Boating in Stormy Weather
- Boat Operation in Stormy Weather
- Anchoring in a Storm
- Preparations for Setting Out
Boating in Stormy Weather
Stormy weather means turbulent waters, which is extremely dangerous for boats as there is a much higher risk of the boat capsizing or sinking due to swamping.
Even when we avoid such dangerous weather, there are unexpected situations. We might get caught in a storm that developed quickly, especially if we take out the boat days at a time.
For such critical situations, there are several things that we can do. Below are some of the precautions we should take:
1. Have All Passengers Wear Life Jackets
Wearing life jackets should be the first thing we should do when caught in stormy weather. If we end up in the water, life jackets significantly improve our chances of survival. According to incident reports involving deaths by drowning, the majority of such deaths involve individuals that do not have a life jacket on.
As boat operators, it is our job to ensure that every person wears their life jacket. After ensuring that each passenger is properly equipped with a PFD, we then go on to other precautionary steps on this list.
2. Close hatches and openings
Swamping is one of the most common causes of boat capsizing or sinking. It is important to close hatches, doors, windows, or any openings to prevent water from getting into the boat that may lead to swamping.
It also helps to check the bilge and pump it as necessary. Remember to pump the bilge as time goes on as water may keep building up in a storm or on rough waters.
3. Keep passengers near the boat center
It will help to keep passengers at the center of the boat. Doing so will help keep the boat balanced even when the water is rough and turbulent. Keeping the weight low on the boat in the center will help maintain the boat’s balance even in rough waters.
It also helps to keep cargo centered in the boat and ensure that they stay there. Any sudden weight shift may cause the boat to lose balance and tip over or even sink. Strap down heavy items for additional security.
4. Secure movable items on the boat
Stormy weather and turbulent waters mean that you should expect the boat to be shaky and unsteady. This will not only make it difficult for people to keep still, but it will also cause items on the boat to move about.
Be sure to secure loose items or put them in storage for safety. Strapping them down or tying them up is another option if stowing them away is not possible. This will also help keep items from getting lost.
5. Monitor weather conditions
Monitoring the weather is encouraged when you’re in the middle of a boating trip. At times, it may be enough to keep out of the storm’s way.
And while it may be challenging to do so when caught in a storm, it’s helpful to keep track of the weather situation while out on the water. Try to use anything that can help keep you up to date on the weather using items such as an AM radio or anything else. Using the internet may not be reliable, so it’s a good idea to have a more reliable means on hand.
6. Take note of your location
Knowing where you are is important for boating to keep from getting lost.
It helps us deal with local hazards and prepare for them, and it is important when we are calling for help. Even if you don’t know your exact location, having a general area to narrow it down can help save a lot of time.
7. Communicate your position
If possible, it’s a good idea to contact the coast guard for assistance in such situations as getting caught in a storm. Just remember to have all the necessary information ready, such as your location.
If you’re unable to radio the coast guard for help, it can also help to try to reach out to whoever you can. Other people such as friends or family can get help for you and relay important information.
Boat Operation in Stormy Weather
When operating the boat in stormy weather, proceed slowly and with caution. Visibility will be impacted, so it may be more difficult to keep track of hazards or other boats in the area.
It also helps to position the boat relative to the waves at an angle of 45 degrees. Doing so will allow the boat to have more stability even in restless waters. However, it is still essential to take it slow in such boating conditions.
Anchoring in a Storm
With the potential dangers of a storm, it is best to head back to shore and safety or seek shelter. However, there are times when anchoring becomes the best course of action available to us, such as when the boat engine gives out.
As mentioned above, keep the boat at a 45-degree angle relative to the waves. In case the engine dies, this will still leave you in the best position to anchor the boat.
After deploying the anchor, turn off all electrical equipment and stay low on the boat. Ensure that you have your signaling device broadcasting to allow other boats to know your location. At this point, it may also be a good idea to make use of your distress equipment, something that newer GPS devices would have.
Preparations for Setting Out
Below are a few of the things we should take the time to do before setting out on the boat.
- Check the weather forecast and possible local hazards
- Ensure that there are enough life jackets for all boat passengers
- Make sure that all boat instruments and equipment are in proper working order
- Brief all boat passengers about safety protocols and procedures
Now you have a better idea of which safety precaution should be taken first by a boat operator when boating in stormy weather. You no longer have to worry that you would be caught unprepared when going out on the water. Still, let’s hope we don’t end up in such a situation and always prepare for each boating trip accordingly.
If you know anyone wondering about dealing with such a situation as boating in stormy weather, please share this article with them as well.
Remember to boat safely.
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