Handling Your Boat in Heavy Weather
Some of the most challenging conditions you may encounter while handling a boat are the adverse conditions of heavy weather. The size of your boat does not have much to do with its seaworthiness. How it will handle adverse weather conditions is more or less built in during the design and construction. As your boat bounces up and down from trough to trough it may roll excessively and possibly dangerously. In this conditions in a powerboat, it is best to change course and make a series of tacks, taking the wind and waves at an angle. This zig-zag type of course should leave your boat in the tough for only long enough to turn. You want to minimise the time that you are in the trough and broad side to the swell to prevent broaching. You should never use your boat for anything other than what it was designed: for example, trying to use a sailing boat as a speed boat will never have a good outcome! Don’t venture into waters or weather conditions which are beyond your boat’s capabilities. Companies such as brownellsystems.com are used to handling heavy vessels and will advise you on the right conditions your boats can handle. If your course dictates that you are running in the direction of the trough of waves – parallel to them – you must take extra caution.
When swells come up directly behind you, running before them can become difficult. Your boat’s stern can be swept up and pushed to one side or another. You want to make sure that you can keep the stern perpendicular to oncoming seas. Another concern is sliding down the wave at a speed that buries the bow and with the stern still being pushed up the possibility of pitch poling exists. You might also want to try tacking before the seas again taking the swells. Companies like brownellsystems.com regularly haul boats and sometimes come up against these conditions. If conditions become so violent that you and your boat are taking too much punishment, you might consider heaving to. This manoeuvre, which can vary by type of boat, is designed to keep the bow into or slightly off the wind and wave action. In a power boat, forget your intended destination and bring the bow around into the wind and waves using just enough power to make bare steerage way while also being concerned about conserving fuel.
Ensuring that you follow the rules of the sea and are careful with heavy adverse weather conditions is really the only way you can ensure that you don’t falter when you encounter a hard storm. Whether you do your boating on an inland lake or the open seas, sooner or later you’re going to end up in rough seas. Even if you take pains to avoid it the situation is sure to occur. Sometimes storms blow up unexpectedly, sometimes mechanical issues delay your return to the dock and sometimes the weatherman turns out to be wrong, it happens.