If there is a storm - how to prepare a yacht
Denis Korablev
  • 28.10.2021
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If there is a storm - how to prepare a yacht

In the autumn-spring period, storms quite often, and in summer, strong winds are not uncommon, so the issue of ensuring the protection of the yacht is always relevant, as for experienced owners charter yachts as well as for newcomers who recently bought their first yacht. A small sailboat can weather a storm much better than a large motorboat. To a greater extent, it depends on the experience and cohesion of the crew, the technical condition of the yacht, and careful preparation. Experienced sailors believe that every effort should be made to avoid a storm. The best option is to find out the forecast in advance and wait out in the marina. What exactly should yachtsmen do when information about an impending storm comes in?

Where and how should I moor?

You cannot be 100% sure that the marina will protect the yacht from the hurricane. It is necessary to take into account the location of the marina, the design features of the berths and slipways, sometimes their design also matters. When you enter the marina, find out immediately if there are special regulations required during a storm? Before the storm approaches, in some marinas they ask to free up space on the slip, and in some cases they even demand to leave the parking lot.

Make a visual assessment of the condition of the berths: are there any holes in the berth piles, how strong are they, how are the cleats anchored? Note how other yachts are positioned on the water and ashore. If you decide to leave the yacht in the port - proceed to mooring. Remember that when preparing for a storm, it is fundamentally different from normal.

A vessel at the berth is unable to turn under the influence of waves and wind, which during a sea storm can easily change direction or approach from different places, dramatically changing the force of impact. The boat should be positioned with the bow facing open water. Mooring lines should be left long to allow the yacht to adjust to gusty winds and rough waves. A regularity has been experimentally derived: the minimum length of the mooring lines corresponds to the length of the yacht.

A cruel hurricane is capable of flooding stationary berths with ducks, and raising floating berths to such a height that will ensure their removal from the piles and their disappearance in an unknown direction. Most of the harbors are protected by breakwaters and malls, but one cannot exclude the possibility of their complete immersion in the water, leaving a seemingly reliable marina to be torn apart by a hurricane.

An alternative to the marina can be rivers or canals, although this has its own peculiarities. You should move up the channel as far as conditions allow; this will provide additional protection from storm surges and reduce the risk of blocking the way for other boats. Try to keep the boat in the center of the canal and tie on both sides using long ropes and spider techniques. On the river, the ship should be attached to everything that is available at the moment: to strong piles, reliable anchors, large strong trees.

The method of using mooring assemblies and chains has been recognized as quite successful. Attach one end of each assembly to the mooring cleat (sturdy wood, etc.) and the other to the heavy bows at one end of the chain. On the back of the chain, tie the thick mooring line and the next pair of heavy bows to the boat's cleats. Now, directly from the boat, you can coordinate the mooring lines in such a way until each length of the chain will equally affect the sailboat. This ensures the safety of the yacht, there is no threat of bumping into a neighboring ship or something on the shore, and it will not carry it far.

When the wind gusts, the chain will rise after the yacht, respectively, when the wind subsides the chain will go down and center the boat. This mooring method allows you to withstand the harsh stormy waves, because all complete chain nodes must be lifted together. To increase efficiency, you can add another weight to the chain line.

If the marina is full, it is allowed to put the yacht on a barrel. There is a guarantee that the vessel, swinging freely, will not stick into the berth; But along the way, many questions arise: what is a barrel and can it withstand a storm? How deep should it be? How far should neighboring yachts be located? Buoys, specially installed at depth, may be more reliable than anchors in bad weather. Mooring is best done with an anchor chain capable of withstanding high friction or with a cable that is protected from wear.

Anchors with paws that burrow under load on their own are considered the most reliable:

  • anchor-plow;
  • Bruce's anchor;
  • Danforth's anchor.

The combination is quite effective: 3 storm anchors and a chain (instead of a rope) are set 120 degrees apart and connected together by a heavy swivel mechanism. All mooring and anchor combinations require a change in scale (10: 1) due to the need to mitigate the effects of a storm surge.

If you are using a chain drive, then you should provide a proven shock absorber, its length is 1/10 of the length of the chain. Increasing the weight on the chain will decrease the anchor pull angle and damp the sudden movements of the boat. Please note that lengthening the anchor chain (mooring lines) increases the yacht's turning radius.

Be careful, the depth can change completely with the onset or removal of a hurricane; Consider the effects of storm surge when anchoring. The opposite situation is not excluded: the depth is already shallow, and even the winds blow water out of the bay. The yacht can withstand a storm, and later, when the storm is gone, run aground or worse, crash against rocks if the bottom is rocky. Examine the ground where the parking is supposed to be. It is known that the anchor is firmly held by sand, clay, mud, shells. Take into account that sometimes self-deepening anchors will sink so that after a hurricane it is not possible to reach them.

It may happen that you are ideally prepared, you checked everything, planned everything, but the owner of the neighboring yacht turned out to be completely shortsighted and carelessly secured it. Nearby boats and their owners should be kept in sight as they pose a potential hazard to your boat. If you are unable to contact the owner of this yacht, please contact the port manager. In the absence of the owner, only he has the right to take appropriate measures to improve the situation.

Another alternative method, often used by many small boat owners, is to escape the storm on the shore. The effectiveness of this method has been confirmed by research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: ships that survived the storm on land received significantly less damage than those that remained on the water. Onshore yacht storage should be well above the likely storm surge level and additional support should be provided. In order to distribute the weight, a layer of plywood can be placed between the supports and the body, then it is advisable to connect the supports together. It is permissible to leave not very large yachts on their side, then they will definitely not be blown off their supports.

What measures to take to protect the boat from damage?

Remember: when the wind increases by 2 times, the force of its effect on the boat increases by 4 times! Unprotected ends will not withstand the oncoming storm and will tear in a few minutes, so the ends protect the protectors from chafing. But the usual ones are not suitable in stormy conditions, we advise you to make two-layer protectors out of durable canvas, they should be used wherever there is contact between the rope and fasteners, piles, wood, etc.

For these purposes, a rubber hose is absolutely not suitable, since it does not allow heat to pass through, and the end will probably melt, heating up from friction. High quality protectors are made from discarded fire hose, try getting one from your local fire department. You should also check that the thimbles are worn on all lights; this will reduce abrasion at the anchorage points of the mooring lines.

Nylon ropes stretch under load, but with squall gusts, the load is several times stronger and the friction from stretching increases the internal temperature to such an extent that the rope begins to gradually melt from the inside. Long and thick sheets require massive fastenings, in accordance with the size of the ends, if necessary, make the weft more powerful. Mooring anchors can be supported with embedded parts. Under heavy load, unbacked mounts will fly out of the deck, so it's a good idea to use stainless steel plates.

Find the large bolts that will fit into the mounting holes of the mounts. Do not overload the bindings (maximum two ropes), it is recommended to use bindings with 4 mounting holes. If, when mooring, there are more ends than fastenings, then it is better to put additional ones. Be sure to check that the windlass is securely fastened with the support plates and bolts of the correct size.

How to reduce wind resistance?

To protect the boat, remove all unnecessary from the deck, since the wind pressure is distributed over the entire surface of the yacht and the mooring lines are subject to heavy loads. Remove all objects that may increase wind resistance: sails, boom, antennas, bimini, running rigging, lifeboats, lifebuoys, etc. At least, they will not be ripped off and carried away into the depths of the sea, and the likelihood of damage is also excluded.

Move the folded headsail off deck in a safe place, because even as it is, it will increase wind resistance and load on the foresail. If a hurricane breaks the sheet and the sail unfolds completely, then the consequences of this oversight will greatly upset you. Pick up the halyards so that they do not flutter in the wind and do not bump against everything. It is best to tie all the halyards to the throwing end and lift them to the top of the mast, attaching the throwing end to the shoulder strap; it is enough to set aside one free halyard instead of four.

How to avoid water damage?

At sea, storms are often accompanied by heavy rain that gushes in all directions, so first remove the ventilation sockets and replace them with plates, and cover all ventilation openings with adhesive tape. Check that the drain in the cockpit is not blocked by anything, clean if necessary. Close all seacock except those used for dehumidification. Place plugs on unused body fittings and in the exhaust pipe to keep water out of the engine. Deck drain vents and drain pumps near the waterline may become submerged and suck in.

Cover all open tools with plywood panels and secure with adhesive tape. Look carefully at hatches, portholes, lockers and if you find the slightest leak, seal them with adhesive tape. Check: everything made of paper is stowed high; otherwise it will creep when wet and may severely clog the bilge pumps. Place dishes, games and other little things so that they stay in certain places, and do not fly around the cabin. During a storm, sometimes a moored yacht shakes more than on the open sea.

It would be nice to have a list of items to be removed from the boat: electronics, clothing, documents, outboards, propane tanks, etc. And also a list with the list of equipment, without which it is difficult for a yacht to withstand the blows of the elements.

The yacht is ready and weather the storm without you!

When you have fully completed your plan to prepare your ship for the storm, find a safe place for yourself. The decision to wait out the storm on board makes no sense, you are unlikely to be able to help the boat in any way, and you yourself can get seriously injured. According to statistics, almost half of all deaths during a storm occur on the boat owners who remained on board.

According to the experts 2yachts, the preparation of the yacht for the storm must be completed before the first signs of it appear. With a strong wind, waves clearing, when the sky is clouded by storm clouds, it will be too late to do anything.

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