Whether you’re new to boating, or an old hand at it, there’s always the chance that you could find yourself boating in a storm. In Queensland especially, storms come out of nowhere. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re inshore, offshore, on a lake, or up a river.
Storms are not good news when boating. There’s no cause for panic, though, if you do see an imminent storm looming. All you need to do is prepare, and ride it out. Here’s how!
#1: Always keep the kill switch lanyard on your person when boating in a storm
In high seas, it’s often best to keep your boat moving. Large waves, which are often thrown up by storms, can often capsize a stationary vessel with greater ease than a moving one. But actively boating in a storm can pose its own risks. A common one is balance. If you’re navigating rough seas, there’s a heightened risk of going overboard. That’s why you should always have the kill switch around your wrist. That way, if you do end up in the drink, your boat won’t carry on without you.
#2 Do your passengers know where the lifejackets are? They need to if you’re boating in a storm!
Lifejackets: they should really be on you and your passengers whenever possible. But, of course, we often find ourselves on the water with our lifejackets below deck. If a storm comes, the lifejackets should be out and on as soon as possible. So you need to be sure that everyone on the boat knows where they are.
Before you embark on any boating adventure, you should give your passengers a quick safety briefing. Time is everything when the weather turns on the water! Make sure your crew are ready for action, no matter how calm it seems at the time.
#3 Carrying an EPIRB is a must when boating – keep it close in a storm
EPIRBs are a boating safety revelation. They have saved countless lives, and will save countless more. Perhaps even yours! If you’re boating in a storm, you should have your EPIRB at hand. Of course, you should only use it when there’s an imminent threat to life. But if that threat arises, there’s no time to waste! If the weather descends on you, while you’re on the water, we suggest placing your EPIRB somewhere securely within reach. Alternatively, you could secure it to your person if you are the sole skipper!
#4 Can you make it to sheltered water? Always know the nearest calm water when boating in a storm
Navigation is an important skill, and it can get you out of all sorts of trouble. That is sure to become clear if you find yourself boating in a storm! Knowing where your nearest safe harbour is, can mean the world in a storm. Ideally, your safe harbour will be dry land – such as an island, or the shore. But if that’s not available, nearby reefs, bays, or coves are all options. Always keep an eye on your location, and the location of possible safety around you. That way, you stand a chance of beating the storm to safety!
#5 Boating in a storm can be frightening, but no matter what, stay calm!
Finally, the most important tip to boating safely in a storm is to remain calm! That is especially important if you have passengers, but it’s true if you’re alone as well. If you keep your boat in good condition, and your safety gear at hand, you are at a far lower risk of running into trouble. Just remember, most storms pass quickly! Staying safe is just a matter of preparation and action.