Caught in a Storm

If you get caught out on the water in bad weather or you feel there is an approaching storm, take the following steps to prepare:

  • Ensure that all passengers are wearing a properly fitted lifejacket or PFD;
  • Slow down to ensure you can maintain control of your pleasure craft;
  • Always proceed with caution;
  • Stay alert and keep a sharp look out for approaching boats and debris in the water;
  • Prevent water from entering the boat by closing all hatches and ports;
  • Make sure all passengers are sitting low and near the centerline in the boat;
  • Secure loose gear but have emergency gear (anchor, bailers, and paddles) ready for use;
  • Head for the nearest marina that you can approach safely to take shelter, especially when there is lightning present;
  • If lightning is present, unplug all electrical items, remain low in the boat and away from metal objects;
  • If your engine fails; prevent the current from carrying your vessel into shallow water or onto rocks by dropping your anchor;
  • To keep smaller boats, such as kayaks, stable and prevent rolling in high waves, it is recommended to point the bow into the waves at a 90 degree angle;
  • To keep larger boats, such as a cabin cruiser, stable and prevent rolling in high waves it is recommended to point the bow of the boat into the waves at a 45 degree angle; and
  • Do not hesitate to contact a Coast Guard MCTS Center (i.e. VHF channel 16) if you become overcome by fog while operating near commercial traffic lanes.
REMEMBER: After a storm with heavy rain, always proceed with caution. Heavy rain can cause water levels to rise in streams and rivers, which can lead to more debris on the water’s surface.