Handling a Storm in Your Boat

The first thing you need to know about handling your boat in a storm is that the ocean behaves differently under different circumstances. In order to remain safe regardless of what is happening around you, it is importtant to understand the effects of the waves, wind and currents. It takes many hours on the sea in different types of weather to become a real seaman.

Rough water boats

Most people pay very little attention to the design of the hull in the boat that they purchase. This is one of the main factors that determines how a boat will handle under different weather conditions. Instead of looking at the handling capabilities of a boat, people often prefer the luxuries and conveniences. Because of this, most boats are better suited for protected water areas than for open and rough water.

Control the speed of your boat

An important thing to learn is how to control the speed of your boat in relation to the speed of the waves and the direction being travelled. The speed the boat is travelling determines the effect the waves will have on the boat. As the waves get rougher, it is necessary to slow the boat down. Slowing down actually means you have less distance to travel.


Broaching is when a boat is going too fast for the size of the waves, and it runs into the backside of a wave. This can cause you to lose control of the boat. In this situation, the only thing that can be done is to immediately chop the throttle. Allow the slowing speed to get you out of danger. If you try to force your boat in the direction you want it to go, you can cause it to turn broadside to the waves, and then you face the danger of capsizing.

Avoid the storms

It is best to avoid storms if at all possible. If you hear that a storm is coming, or if you can see one coming on the horizon, the best thing you can do is to run from it. Always remember that the direction a storm appears to be moving in, may not be the actual direction that it is travelling.

Do everything possible to avoid thunderstorms. One never knows what the duration and strength of one might be. Never go out on the water for the day without checking the Weather Channel.

If you spend very much time out on the ocean in a boat, there is no doubt that sooner or later you will end up in a thunderstorm. When that happens, your main problems are high winds, a lack of visibility and rapidly building waves. The very first thing you must do is avoid rash reactions and panic.

Keep any inexperienced boaters calm. Have them put on their life jackets in order to be safe.

Figure out where you are. Stay away from inlets, shorelines and any other boats that may be nearby. Reduce the speed of your boat so you can stay in control of it. Begin sounding your horn at 15 second intervals.

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