“Aren’t you worried about storms?”
I mentioned the subject briefly back in “Emergencies”,but in fact I don’t consider “bad” weather to be an emergency, as such. Miserable, challenging, stinking, uncomfortable-as-hell; Yes. But if we’ve planned and managed the boat properly, it shouldn’t get to the point of being an emergency unless Neptune decides our time is up and makes it that way.
My dictionary defines “Worry”(n) thus:
“A state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.”
As above, if I’ve planned and managed effectively, there may be concern, but there really shouldn’t be worry – worry creates anxiety, and anxiety interferes with reason and management skills.
Ok, easier said than done. Yes, we worry about the approach of inclement weather, but we use that worry as a way to inspire constructive activity to manage the threat. Contrary to what landsmen/women often assume, “sit-there-and-take-it” is not a boater’s only option.
First – Stay in port
The saying goes “The most dangerous thing on a boat is a schedule.” Unless you’re military or a first responder, you never HAVE to go. So don’t.
Second – Return to port
If you’ve already left, and can comfortably beat the foul weather back to port, do so.
Third – Detour
A nasty line of thunderstorms and/or tornadoes can run your whole day, but they generally don’t cover a wide area. Sailing out of your way for a couple hours could take your vessel completely out of the risk. Do it.
Forth – Gain sea-room and ride it out
Water doesn’t break well-found boats – LAND breaks boats. So get away from the land and increase your safety and options.
Fifth – Rig the boat for it
Storm canvas (very small sails built for high winds) should be set when you can still manage safely on deck. Don’t wait for 50 knot winds before preparing for 50 knot winds. You can also reduce windage (air resistance) by removing shade covers, extra gear that’s on deck, etc. If possible, move weight low in the boat to increase natural stability.
Sixth – Work your plan
You have to practice with your boat – each boat is slightly different. Learn ahead of time what works. Practicing techniques gives you the confidence to allay your fears and avoid worry.
Oh yeah, confession time. We have yet to set our storm canvas on Sionna, or to practice heaving to – our preferred technique for really nasty stuff out there. But we will, and sooner, rather than later.
You just never know.