Sailing in Storms – Questions Answered

What’s it like sailing in storms? How can you prepare? What do you do when a storm hits you when anchored? What about unexpected storms and squalls? Watch this video and you’ll gain answers to these questions and more…

Sailing in Storms Video – Questions Answered

In our last video, Simon and I answered the most popular questions asked of us during our Charleston, South Carolina Meet & Greet. If you haven’t watched the video or read the associated article, check out: Sailing Questions Answered. We cover health insurance when sailing around the world, our future travel plans, what it’s like to have a child on board, what we do with our trash on long passages and why we paint our anchor yellow.


While recording the video we started to answer the popular question about Sailing in Storms – what are they like and how do you handle them? We quickly discovered that a whole new video would be necessary to contain our thoughts.

Interestingly, Simon and I recored over 40 minutes for our storm video. I cut it back to 25 minutes removing our stories about our three worst storms. Perhaps I’ll use the cut footage later for another video?!

Some take-aways from the Sailing in Storms video

  • Before you buy a boat, if you haven’t already, understand what you have to do to prepare the boat for a storm. Some boats are easier than others…you don’t want to buy a boat that makes life difficult in a storm!
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll never go through a storm. Storms pop up from nowhere from time to time. If you own a boat and go out sailing you will eventually have to weather a storm! (So – be prepared).
  • As soon as you have your boat, take it out and practice reefing your sails (reefing is explained in the video above and demonstrated here: Rigging, Sails and Reefing our Oyster 56‘ – a new screen will open with our YouTube video).
  • If a storm is going to hit, make sure to get yourself and your partner/family/crew prepared. Put the right clothes on (waterproofs?), get food/water and take seasickness pills if necessary – do this before the storm hits. Put lifejackets, harnesses and life-lines on for anyone on deck.
  • The saying is, ‘If you have to reef your sails, it’s already too late!’ If you have any indication of a storm or high wind gusts, reef your sails.
  • When at anchor, if a storm is coming the safest place is towards the outside of the bay. When anchoring put out as much chain as possible without risking hitting another boat or land. Consider instigating an anchor watch – every three hours someone is on deck ensuring the anchor is holding.
  • If the storm becomes too much – while sailing or at anchor, and if you can get far enough away from land/objects you can heave-to. By heaving-to you pull your headsail and mainsail in tight and then backfill the head sail. In other words, turn the wrong way so the headsail fills with wind on the wrong side. This will effectively put the boat in the best position for the boat to calm down, level out and slow to a crawl.

What are your sailing in storm tips? Please leave them below. (Note: if you get an error message with the comments form, don’t worry. Your comments come to me and I’ll approve them and if appropriate respond).

WestMarine.com
WestMarine.com