Handling Severe Weather and Weather Warning Signals
Prepare the Boat to Handle Severe Weather
- Slow down, but keep enough power to maintain headway and steering.
- Close all hatches, windows, and doors to reduce the chance of swamping.
- Stow any unnecessary gear.
- Turn on your boat's navigation lights. If there is fog, sound your fog horn.
- Keep bilges free of water. Be prepared to remove water by bailing.
- If there is lightning, disconnect all electrical equipment. Stay as clear of metal objects as possible.
Prepare Your Passengers for Severe Weather
- Have everyone put on a USCG—approved life jacket (PFD). If a PFD is already on, make sure it is secured properly.
- Have your passengers sit on the vessel floor close to the centerline. This is for their safety and to make the boat more stable.
Go to Shore or Ride it Out?
Decide whether to go to shore or ride out the storm.
- If possible, head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach. If already caught in a storm, it may be best to ride it out in open water rather than try to approach the shore in heavy wind and waves.
- Head the bow into the waves at a 45-degree angle. PWCs should head directly into the waves.
- Keep a sharp lookout for other vessels, debris, shoals, or stumps.
- If the engine stops, drop a "sea anchor" on a line off the bow to keep the bow headed into the wind and reduce drifting while you ride out the storm. In an emergency, a bucket will work as a sea anchor. Without power, a powerboat usually will turn its stern to the waves and could be swamped more easily.
- If the sea anchor is not sufficient, anchor using your conventional anchor to prevent your boat from drifting into dangerous areas.