The storm season is not far away, let’s review some ideas on skippering in heavy weather.

1. Put Your Life Jackets On – Right away, the skipper has to direct everyone to don their life jackets. On my vessel, I have a heavy weather/type-1 life jacket on the back of my helm seat. Across the back, where the crew can read it, it says, “If you see the captain put this on, try to find one for yourself.”

2. Take Waves at an Angle – Those waves that you are trying to muscle through pack tremendous power within them. So slow down and tack! Your 20 knots and 5 knots of wave speed multiply the force of the pounding. Slow down and divide the forces.

3. Someone To Watch Over Me – If things start to get dicey, get on the radio and call the local coast guard. Tell them where you are, where you are heading and why you are concerned about the situation. Most likely, the watch stander will take that information and ask you to check in with him or her regularly.

4. Any Port in a Storm –Don’t bet your life on a perceived deadline. Head to the nearest harbour you can safely make, even if that means turning away from home and putting the storm on your stern.

5. Surf – If you find the sea is going where you are, consider getting on the back of one of those growlers and staying there, all the way home. It takes considerable seamanship and helmsmanship to ride the back of a wave but consider this. If you have a following sea and one of those growlers catches up with you, he will swamp you from astern. Stay ahead and he can’t…

6. Create a Ditch Bag – If things really get dicey, don’t leave the boat until it sinks out from under you. But have a “water proof ditch bag” ready – cell phone (water tight), handheld radio, fresh water, dry clothes, medical kit, flash light, flares and epirb.

Note that these are tips, to be a better skipper contact Jeff at All State Boat Licensing & Training, Sunshine Coast. Bookings can be made by phoning 0412 161 559 or by emailing Jeff at

For all safety advice and equipment call us and drop into NCB, we will help you put together your safety package suited to the type of boating you are doing or wanting to do.