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Boating Safety: 6 Tips for Boating in Storms

The last article we wrote focused solely on preparing your boat and boat lift or dock against severe weather conditions. We concentrated on the essentials of safety gear, lightning protection systems, and docking preparation. Now, that your boat and boat lift or dock are fully prepared to take on a storm, it’s time to focus on the frightful event you actually get caught out in the water during a horrific squall. Listed below are six tips that will help to keep you and your crew safe during a horrible storm:

1. Put on life jackets and harnesses

When a storm hits, you and your crew should all be wearing lifejackets or preservers to ensure everyone is safe in case someone were to fall overboard. Countless times we hear from experienced boaters that they do not need lifejackets because they are skilled swimmers. However, no matter how strong of a swimmer you are, you will not be able to beat the hurling water during a storm. Also, we recommend having harnesses readily attached to the cleats or tie-offs on your boat to have them available to secure everyone.

2. Stow away unneeded objects and gear

It is important to stow away unneeded objects and gear that could get tossed around during a storm. Moving and falling objects can not only cause injury, but could cause death. There are many heartbreaking stories of boaters losing their lives by getting knocked unconscious by tumbling objects and falling overboard.

3. Close windows and latches

Many boaters overlook shutting windows and securely fastening latches because of sheer panic during a storm. Having your windows and latches shut prevents water from flooding the cabin of your boat. Flooded cabins can weigh down the boat increasing the risk of the boat sinking.

4. Stay away from metal

As you know metal is extremely conductive to electricity. Therefore, if lightning strikes the boat or even near the vessel, there is a great chance you could get severely electrocuted if you are touching a metal object or part. We suggest gathering your crew in the center of your cockpit to avoid metal and to keep them out of harm’s way.

5. Slow down boat

When the storm begins to pick up slow your boat down immediately and as safely as possible. You should keep just enough power to maintain headway and steering in the churning water and wind. We recommend keeping your boat at a pace that does not outrun the water, but rather is slow enough for the water to outrun the boat. This actually creates a more comfortable ride. If you exceed the speed of the stormy seas, you risk the chance of losing control of your boat or broaching.

6. Steer boat in a 45 degree angle towards your docking area.

Heading the bow of the boat into the waves at a 45-degree angle is the safest way to proceed to the shore. This will help you to avoid having your boat get swamped by the waves as much as possible

Many of these tips seem like common sense but they are still commonly overlooked by boaters during a storm. We advise you use these tips to ensure that you and your crew are as safe as possible. If you get stuck out in the water during a horrible squall, stay calm so you don’t neglect these safety precautions.

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