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Boating in Heavy Weather - Part I

Preparation For Heavy Weather

This week's tip is all about preparing yourself for heavy weather. If you have kept a proper lookout, developed a "weather eye" and monitored the weather on your VHF radio, you should have plenty of time to get prepared. Obviously, the best way to handle rough weather is to get to shore immediately and avoid it completely. However, this may not be practical if you are on an extended cruise. In this case, you should prepare yourself, the vessel and your crew for what is to come.

As boats vary in design and size, and weather conditions vary in severity, so does the laundry list of precautionary items that need to be performed. The following list was accumulated from various resources and from input from those who answered last week's question concerning "what to do if heavy weather is approaching." Thanks to those who contributed. For novice boaters we have defined some of the, perhaps, unfamiliar terms such as jack line, sea anchor and drogue below.

What Every Skipper Should Know

Prevent getting caught in heavy weather by developing a "weather eye," listening to your radio, and heading for shore before it becomes an emergency.

Jack Lines - lines rigged along the outboard decks running from the bow aft. This allows you to attach the tether from your safety harness and move forward and back at will.

Life Lines - usually vinyl or plastic covered wire rope at the sides of the boat's deck to keep the crew from falling overboard.

Safety Harness - a nylon web harness worn in rough seas or heavy weather. It has a tether with a clip. The clip is attached to the jack lines or lifelines so that if you are washed overboard in a storm you are still attached to the boat.

Sea Anchor - A floating canvas cone, held open by wire rings, with an opening in the smaller end, and a rope bridle at the larger end attached to a line leading to the bow of the boat. It is used in storm conditions to (a) keep the bow of the boat into the wind, and (b) slow the downwind drift of the boat.

Drogue - Any device steamed astern to check a boat's speed and/or to help keep the stern perpendicular to the waves in a following sea.

Heavy Weather Boat Handling - Part 2
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