5 Things To Remember When The Wind Comes Up

5 Things to Remember When the Wind Starts Coming Up

By: Cruising Tips, Equipment, Learn To Sail

You leave on a gorgeous sunny day with a 12-knot breeze blowing out of the south and a forecast for much of the same. It’s going to be a great day. After a solid two hours of sailing in perfect conditions, more white caps begin to emerge and the sky seems irritated. You know the mood of the wind is changing and, as a sailor, know you’ll be adjusting along with it. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when you feel that feeling. We encourage you to add to the list in the comments below…

  1. Tidy Up
    Look around the boat and make sure everything is “ship shape.” When things get hairy, a messy boat with lines to trip over and things to slip on and get in your way is no good. Being disheveled in a howling wind can be a disaster. A fully heeled over and powered up boat is actually fun if everything is where it should be. If something happens to snap or go boing on a disordered boat, things can become chaotic quickly. Always be tidying in all weather but definitely if you feel it starting to pipe up.
  1. Hunker Down
    Make sure everything that could get loose won’t. Perhaps some things in the galley are usually fine for a normal daysail, but will create an obstacle course when the boat starts slamming around. Or maybe you have some things lashed down that need to really be lashed down now. Do a survey above and below and make sure it all looks solid for a rockin’.
  1. Reef
    It’s important to practice reefing on medium-wind days so when the time arises, it’s not a new experience. Sailing leaned over in 30-knots and choppy seas is not the time to learn how to work a seldom-used system on the boat. So, when you notice the wind may be changing her tune, look to the reefing system and make sure it all looks good to go. As it builds more, throw a reef in sooner than later. It’s a great feeling to put a reef in, see the wind come way up and be in total control – no bug-eyed fear, no heart racing, just a calm shift to another gear and more sailing!
  1. Change Clothing
    There are times when the weather changes pretty quickly and the tee shirt and shorts become a serious liability when the sun goes away and the wind bears down. It’s very often the case in heavier weather that the skipper and crew will be stuck in their respective positions to keep the boat sailing and passengers safe. To be shivering and stiff is obviously not the best way to face a challenge. As things begin to shift remember this and grab the foulies. If you’re dressed correctly for the event you can face it without compromise. Seems like an obvious point but the environment can suddenly get colder than one might anticipate.
  1. Grab that PFD
    If it isn’t already on, put one on. No one wants to think that they could end up in the drink but heavy weather can get wild. There might be call to go up on a very slippery deck in an extremely bouncy environment. It’s flat out foolish to not wear a life jacket in heavy weather – the chances of survival plummet should the worst happen. Throw that baby on, plow through those big ol’ waves, enjoy this essential part of the sailing experience and have a story to tell later…one with a happy ending.
textbooks
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
21 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Billy Street
Billy Street
15 days ago

When you put on the PFD, pick up the tether and connect it. Tuck the shackle end in a pocket so you are ready to clip in when it gets rough. If everyone on board is ready to clip in, no one has to go hunting tethers when the blow turns nasty.

Captain Bob Baldwin
Captain Bob Baldwin
15 days ago

Q: When should you reef? A: When you say, “I wonder if I should reef.”

Robert Farrell
Robert Farrell
12 days ago

Reef after jib/head sail has been secured. All hatches have been secured. if still listing out of control Reef.

Allan
Allan
15 days ago

Check forecast/weather update to prepare for what is developing.

Stephen
Stephen
15 days ago

Excellent advice.

Linda Newland
Linda Newland
15 days ago

Great advice! Been there done that but newbies don’t think ahead and better to be prepared than learn through a harsh experience. Love the galley advice….had to clean up a few messes…gimballed stoves do not keep pots and pans on them in rough seas. Best to stow everything.

Pauleen
Pauleen
15 days ago

Practice heaving to in the calm days so you know how to do it in a blow.
Also, when you have your PFD on snap onto the jacklines – you may need to go upfront to untangle a line and you do want to be safe – man-overboard practice at this time is a no-go!
Be Safe!

Tom
Tom
15 days ago

Check the crew to make sure no one is seasick – decide on crew assignments from that – turn for home as able. Check the weather forecast.

Bill
Bill
15 days ago

Great short list of what to do. Don’t wait for a bad experience to teach you these lessons. It could the a disaster and not just a bad experience.

Lenox Grasso
Lenox Grasso
15 days ago

Regarding (3) above, if the question, “Should I reef?”, crosses your mind, it’s time to reef.

Lenox Grasso
Lenox Grasso
15 days ago

ASA’s Ash Ashbaugh recommends always to reef sometime between sunset and the end of civil twilight, even if it’s a beautiful, moon-lighted evening for night sailing. It’s far easier to shake out a reef at 3am then to put one in.

Steve Launi
Steve Launi
15 days ago

Excellent reminders because after a string of good days, anyone can become lax in the precautions. Been there, done that. I’d just add: Have a back-up sailing plan. For coastal cruising or inland bays and large lakes; you will have to change course, run far downwind, or vary from your originally planned course. Chart the windward shores, lee of islands, sheltered bays and inlets including bottom contours for some various optional destinations.

Steven L Mandel MD
Steven L Mandel MD
15 days ago

This is excellent! Reefing early bears repeating.

Capt Kathy
Capt Kathy
15 days ago

The rule on my boat is: when you ask yourself, “Is it time to reef?”, it is time to reef.

Keith Halls
Keith Halls
14 days ago

Gloves are always good to prevent rope burn

Richard A. Shaw
Richard A. Shaw
14 days ago

There is no shame to dropping the sails and starting the motor. If the crew is inexperienced, this might be the safest thing to do.

Anthony
Anthony
14 days ago

Although all 5 are extremely important and not to be overlooked, reefing is the only SAILING procedure that was mentioned. Don’t forget to tether…
When in doubt, let it out, or
Sea anchor and ride it out.

Curnutte
Curnutte
12 days ago

A safety harness is also mandatory

Robert Farrell
Robert Farrell
12 days ago

Roll up Jib/ head sail. Batten down hatches. Have two hands on deck to handle main sail and of course one on the wheel/helm. Seal cabin entrance.

Suzanne Biely
Suzanne Biely
12 days ago

Good list…Except…Reefing should be #1…”Reef Early, Reef Often & Reef Deep “…..Jus’say’n!

Harold Backmann
Harold Backmann
9 days ago

A sea Anchor is a good thing if you are far enough off shore. Get it ready to deploy. In the Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race tragedy it was mentioned that if the yachts had deployed sea anchors they would have been able to ride out the storm in safety. Always had one just incase, never had to use it but always felt good it was ready if the weather got really nasty.