Good advice for skippers in strong winds
Few sailors are accustomed to sailing at seven Beaufort or more. Many act very uncertainly as soon as the weather turns bad. We'll show you how to keep your sailboat under helmsman's control and still enjoy sailing.
So, our advice in case of a storm:
1. When is the best time to wait out a storm at sea?
When there is no marina nearby, no protected anchorage, which can be reached during the daytime well before the arrival of the storm. When harbors and bays are on the windward side of the coast. When conveniently accessible harbors and bays are crowded with sailboats. Yachts moored too closely next to each other mutually threaten themselves. When entering the harbor is difficult in strong winds or under certain circumstances. For example, such as a narrow fairway at the entrance, since on it or near it, due to shoals or river bars, dangerouswaves. Or such as a strong cross current.
2. When is the best time to try to enter the harbor
When a sufficiently spacious and free water area is not available (for example, narrowness or an abundance of shoals around). When there is a risk that the vessel will not survive the storm (for example, it is too small or already damaged, or it is missing a piece of equipment or is malfunctioning). The captain and/or crew are incapable of correct action (for example, due to seasickness, or lack of necessary practice, fatigue or fear).
3. Which harbor or bay is a reliable defense
Can wind and waves rush into the bay or port entrance unhindered? Nautical charts and sailing directions indicate the location of breakwaters, booms and mooring walls, as well as their position in relation to the expected wind direction. What is much more difficult to understand is this: does the wind blow in the harbor or in the bay in the same direction as just before the coast? And if it deviates, in what direction? This will be answered by the topography of the coast. For example, the wind often seeks its way around small but high-rising islands from the sea, but encounterso, while on the lee coast, which is initially assumed to be well protected. If ranges of hills surround a harbor or bay, then there may be downdrafts of strong winds. Often in port manuals or sailing directions there are indications under which wind directions the marina or bay is guaranteed to be safe. It is even more difficult to understand whether there is a standing wave or drag in the harbor, and if so, how strong are they? Even if the entrance to the harbor is not facing the direction of the wind, the waves often find their way into it bypassing the breakwaters. If they arevolume are reflected by mooring or rocky walls, then it can come to the formation of chaotic standing waves in the harbor area or, respectively, in the bay at the anchorage. A novice in these waters can hardly determine this in advance. Therefore, you should ask an expert on local conditions - such as the harbormaster or local sailboatsmen. Is the parking deep enough? In a strong storm, there should be a sufficient depth reserve under the bottom. Otherwise, the boat, with a strong draft, may begin to beat the keel against the bottom. Are mys and breakwaters? Waves rushing over them can cause serious damage to sailboats moored behind them. Are the moorings, booms and mooring lines in a trustworthy condition and are they the correct size for the sailboat itself? And are the moorings secured with dead anchors of sufficient weight, especially if you have a large sailboat?
4. How to safely enter the harbor despite the storm
In advance, you should talk to the head of the port by radio or mobile phone and find out if there is a parking space and where it is located. He can also give helpful tips on entering the harbor. Do not rely solely on the motor. The sails must remain in operation as long as possible. In many harbors there is enough space to stow the sails behind the breakwater. In a storm, it can be difficult to bring the boat to the pier or to the mooring wall. Therefore, you can safely turn to people on other ships or on booms and ask for help inmooring lines. If the risk of entering the mooring box or standing along the mooring wall seems too great, then you should bring the bow line to the mooring line on the windward side of the box, and then let the sailboat drift calmly to the wind. Thus, even in a strong storm, you can safely land on the shore.
5. How to Survive a Storm Safely While in Harbor or at Anchor
You should move the sailboat to the most protected corner of the harbor and put her bow into the wind. Remove all external structures that create excessive windage, such as biminis, sprayhoods, banners on lifelines. Folded sails should be secured with additional lines so that the wind cannot unfold them. If the jib has a fur, it should be rolled as tight as possible on it. All hatches must be tightly closed. Fix the ace on the deck. Double the established mooring lines. If available, rubber tubes or sleeves or something should be used.o similar for protection against abrasion. To soften the load when the sailboat jerks on a wave, shock absorbers should be used on the mooring lines or the anchor end. Mooring lines should not be selected tight, so that the sailboat has some free movement, which is important in a standing wave. Long mooring lines soften the movements of the sailboat's hull better than short ones. Therefore, in boxing, it makes sense to wind mooring lines crosswise: bow in the stern direction and vice versa. If the sailboat is moored along a pier or wall, mooring lines should be so long thathow much is possible. Having started the bow and stern moorings, do not forget, of course, about the springs. If the sailboat is moored behind a buoy, a double bow line should also be placed on it. When anchoring, a second anchor should be brought in. In cramped bays, additional ends should be brought to the shore - the more of them, the better. The boat must be well protected with fenders. This should be done not only when there is a storm in the harbor, but also when anchoring, if you are not the only sailboat in the bay. If you are standing at the pier "wad" - the second or third sailboat, then your ownthe boat must be connected not only with the neighboring one, but it is also necessary to bring the ends to the shore. Leave as much distance as possible to the boom or quay wall, even if the gangway is too short or jumping from the cockpit to the boom is no longer possible. Keep watch at all times - not only when at anchor, but also when in the harbour.