Heavy Weather Preparation

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          Depending on the nature and length of the weather expected, careful judgement is called for as to the timing and amount of preparation. Better to be overly cautious, and assume it will be worse than the forecast. It is very difficult to do anything on the deck once a storm has arrived. Prepare EARLY and THOROUGHLY.


  1. Take seasick pills and give everyone a supply of vomit bags (ziplocks)
  2. Turn engine on and charge batteries
  3. Get current weather forecast and decide on strategy
  4. Reduce sail and/or heave to
  5. Check that the portholes and hatches are tght, and put drop boards in companionway
  6. Review position, and navigation plan and hazards
  7. Prepare hot food, some hand food, and hot water. Fill everyone's water bottle.
  8. Secure windvane and bring up its rudder
  9. Remove tow generator from water and stow below
  10. Tighten running backstays
  11. Check everything on deck is secure: tie downs, halyards, dinghy, etc.
  12. Secure everything below as needed (see checklist)
  13. Bring loose and unneeded items from deck/cockpit and store below
  14. If lightning expected, hang copper protector over lee side and put GPS and handheld VHF in oven
  15. Eat a hot meal.
  16. Keep a watch, and maintain the log and plot current


  1. Put chafing gear on windward sheets
  2. Lash the mainsail to the boom, and lash boom to boom gallows
  3. Turn dorades to leeward, or remove and put on covers
  4. Secure cockpit lockers and engine room
  5. Prepare to deploy the sea anchor
  6. Bring in cockpit cushions and stow below
  7. Close all seacocks except for cockpit drains. Leave open engine intake/exhaust if the engine will be run. If these will be closed, tie note to the starter key. Tie note to ‘frig starter switch indicating the drain is closed.
  8. Decide what to do about using the head.
  9. Get out and have handy:
  10. Remove bimini and dodger to reduce windage.
  11. Consider releasing oil (1 quart every 3 hours) - open sink drain seacock and put a pin hole in oil bottle, and put the bottle in the sink (if this is the windward side). If sink is on the leeward side, hang (plastic) bottle from a windward shroud.
  12. Keep engine on if needed to maintain way–so long as exhaust is not in danger of getting swamped. If so, turn engine off and close exhaust seacock and put reminder flag on starter key
  13. Keep radar watch if everyone is below and there's enough power.
  14. If possible, check on deck for chafe, etc., periodically.


  1. Remove all potentially loose items and bag them in double see-through big plastic bags. Store them under table, in the shower, in sail locker, or on the V-berth
  2. Close the door to the V-berth and lock it closed from the cabin.
  3. Stuff towels or cushions in food lockers and galley equipment spaces.
  4. Put the extra bungies on all the shelves, radio equipment, etc.
  5. Secure the engine room.
  6. Close the hammocks with safety pins or bungies.
  7. Put positive locking (or duct tape) on all lockers, lids, floorboards, nav station desk, etc.
  8. Put cockpit cushions on cabin floor for third berth if needed.


©2004 The Trouser Rollers. All rights reserved.
This page was last modified on:
August 9, 2009