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Mico Verde

Storm preparations when on the hook

Sooner or later you'll find yourself in the uncomfortable position of being stuck somewhere during a big blow. Hopefully you'll see it coming but often times you won't.

Here are a few tips we've learned from our experiences over the past two and half years of cruising North American and South Pacific waters.

Pre-heavy-weather planning

  1. Stay on top of the weather.
  2. Move to a better protected area of the harbor if necessary - or move to a different harbor altogether if you have time. If I've been through winds greater than 25 kts in one spot I'm inclined to stay put, however as I think the anchor is well set. You know your anchor did its duty when you can barely get it back when it's time to go and you have to break it out with the engine.
  3. Don't listen too much to everyone else, focus on what's right for your yacht.
  4. Tie everything down.
  5. Have an emergency evacuation plan. This includes how to get the boat into open water and also how to get yourselve's off to shore if necessary.
  6. Ready your second anchor - and flake out necessary scope on deck so it will run smoothly.
  7. Take some relative bearings to sights on land with the hand bearing compass - in addition to the anchor drag alarm on the GPS this will help you know when you're dragging.
  8. Review the re-anchoring plan with your crew.
  9. Identify the hazards, natural and otherwise, in the anchorage.

During the Storm

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Take breaks.
  3. Watch the barograph - the edge of a cold front will bring the strongest winds generally. By keeping a barograph log you can track the passing of frontal systems.
  4. Turn-off the VHF - when things are really bad you won't be able to help your neighbors. Having the radio on and hearing the constant sit-reps and mayday calls will only serve to stress you out. That said if someone's really in trouble and you can help them then you must. You can operate a rubber duck dink in forty knots of wind - with a good bailing system.
  5. Take turns keeping a watch if necessary.
  6. Keep an eye on chafe of the snubber - this is a critical item. If you lose the snubber you'll need to be able to replace it quickly. Much of your holding power is due to the elastic nature of the nylon if your primary rode is all chain.
  7. Watch out for boats around you - especially upwind of your position.

Remember: every nasty weather situation you encounter is a learning experience and another good story for cocktail hour down the road!

Yacht dragging in Vanuatu


What to avoid - a yacht dragging down on everyone else near Port Vila, Vanuatu


SV Mico Verde