Skysail Training


Heavy Weather Precautions

Handout:  Heavy_weather_and_fog.pdf

Turner - Snow Storm, Steamboat off a Harbour's Mouth


  1. Clip on when the FIRST reef goes in.
  2. Ensure spare diesel and petrol cans lashed down. Spilled fuel is dangerous and very slippery.  Plastic caps will split and break, use jerry cans for security.
  3. All lockers including cockpit lockers secured.
  4. Monitor position and ground track constantly.
  5. Ensure washboards are accessible; washboards should be lockable - maybe carry a spare set.
  6. Tie on dodgers with breakable string or shock cord.
  7. Consider an EPIRB (what would happen if you did roll?)
  8. Think about trailing warps early (need to be long).
  9. Consider a series drogue (lots of small parachutes in series), many recommend them.
  10. Method of securing lid of chart table.
  11. Method of securing lid of fridge.
  12. Make sure your oilies are waterproof.
  13. Hot drinks and food made ready.
  14. Floorboards and cushions fastened down.
  15. No loose glass in the bottle store.
  16. Put sweets and lemonade or similar in the cockpit for ready use.

More Heavy Weather preparations - The definitive book based on the original by Adlard Coles

On Deck

Below deck

Get the crew ready

If they have specific jobs get them up to speed.

Tell them all about your plans, including the fact that you may not get to where your going but to an alternative or even back to where you started from.  Morale can plummet because suddenly we can't go where we want to. Explain that we're sailing with the washboards in. It's amazing how many people find this a worry.

Get them to have a pee and take their seasickness pills before they put all that kit on.

I like to avoid crew, particularly beginners, having to go below at the outset of a passage. You often don't get them back.

On passage

Be prepared to run out of helmsmen. I try not to helm much but to be near the helm to give advice. Remember you need rest too.

Beware of cold, fatigue and tension reducing efficiency. If it's going to be a long hard sail I do little tests in my head or with the crew, to see if I'm still working OK.

Try and have a passage plan that allows the skipper as much time on deck as possible. Initially it needs a lot of flexibility in it. Course to steer for example, can be a bit "suck it and see".

Don't be shy about running the engine. A lot of people find that comforting.

Watch out for crew inertia. They get wedged in, hood up, and cease to be useful.

Don't use drogues in the Channel. The shipping won't like you. Remember heaving to; you can use the autopilot if your boat is skittish.


25th May 2011