Sailboat Sea and Storm Protection

Storms are one of the most serious dangers sailors face both near-shore and offshore; and sailboats who depend primarily on the squall-at-seawind for motion can also leave them vulnerable to sudden change in the weather, especially storms and unexpected high winds. Dealing with a coming storm, requires preparation and tactics must depend on the boat’s equipment and the captain’s skill to deal with whatever conditions may occur.

Every helmsman in history has been told to keep “one eye on the sails and the other on the wind and weather”. Today’s sailboats have an auxiliary engine in case of a calm or emergency, but may not always be able to run clear of a sudden squall or storm. Knowing what the wind and clouds tell you is the best “early warning signal” you have.

Most thunderstorms and squalls are preceded by advancing nimbus clouds: big, black, often anvil-shaped clouds that can approach quickly. Big white, puffy cumulus clouds themselves seldom mean thunderstorms and high winds; but don’t take any cloud for granted. Those puffy cumulus clouds could be masking a nimbus cloud or develop into nimbus clouds themselves..

The horizon often darkens in a deep overcast which may hide nimbus clouds. That is a warning that storm cells, dangerous downdrafts or microbursts of high winds are there but hidden. Sailing at night you may not see the clouds, but most thunderstorms and squalls will be announced by lightning. In addition, be alert to any changes in the wind direction and intensity. Sailors should never underestimate the potential these signs have, regardless of the size of the boat.

A well maintained and well protected boat has a better chance of avoiding problems encountered when sailing. Protective Canvas coverings from CMC Canvas LLC can provide that needed protection.