Weather and Solo Sailing!

"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm!"

Favourable weather is extremely important if heading out solo sailing for the day it is only logical you are going to choose favourable winds, sometimes this means light winds.

Light wind sailing can be satisfying and enjoyable; it can also call for patience and a keen eye for signs of wind on the water.

If on a longer voyage you may encounter extreme conditions, which is challenging and when solo sailing it is vital that the boat be made as easy to handle as possible, this is where advanced preparation is essential.

Preparation - Weather and Solo Sailing:

As most people don’t seek out extreme weather, preparation may also include staying out at sea longer than anticipated.

It may be safer gritting your teeth and riding out a storm at sea rather than trying to enter a harbour or anchorage where waves and rocks can be hazardous. Navigation may also be impaired due to poor visibility.

Make a Check List:

  • Make sure you have easy and efficient reefing systems and reef early at the first signs of bad weather.
  • Check the decks are cleared and everything is secured and tied down, or stowed below, better than doing this in the height of a storm.
  • The boat should be water tight. Close and fasten all hatches, make sure sea cocks are off. Be prepared to put the washboards in place, and secure.
  • Most important when solo sailing is to have wet weather gear on early; don’t wait for the last minute. This includes clipping a safety harness on to leave both hands free, and wearing a life jacket.
  • If you have time get some food into you, and a flask of soup or coffee prepared with some snacks.
  • EPIRB, flares and hand held VHF and GPS should be at hand any way … check. Check bilge pump is working. 

If You haven't Experienced where to Learn:

Better safe than sorry when solo sailing, always be prepared; your yacht and your mind, read, listen and learn what to do in an emergency. This is some thing you can't really practice, all you can do is pull on reserves of knowledge.

It may not always be that you are out at sea when a storm hits …

...........may be you're at anchor in a tropical bay … one minute you think you are in paradise ....

.................then whammo!!!

A sailor in the Whitsundays, Australia tells his story … “In Airlie we had our own 2-11 … in the 2008, and no, not a terrorist plot … but a freak storm! A 'monsoonal trough' hammered the North of Queensland.

The equivalent of a cyclone! The real problem was it came from the North and Airlie copped a flogging by the seas created.

Airlie lost 77 boats in total and you guessed it, Jessie (his boat) was among those lost … in fact it still hasn’t been found! 26 in total have just disappeared off the planet!

The reason so many boats got smashed is that a few of the outer moored boats broke free or dragged their moorings; they collected a lot of other boats on the way through.

There is no doubt as to where Jessie is, under 5 meter of mud in tiny pieces, in a mass watery grave of boats! ............ This was disastrous for many; it was the biggest maritime disaster since the war!

Walking around the seashore the morning of the storm, seeing people on their knees, slowly shaking their heads and crying was in a word, heartbreaking."

This was only one of many to hit the area after 2008 ... I witnessed the devastation of another two and yes it brought you to tears.  My yacht was hit by one of these cyclones.  Yes... only a portion of these are covered by insurance but that does not cover the heartache.  But if you had been out at sea it could have been worse.

The weather can ‘mess up’ our best prepared plans let’s try and learn from others experiences!  When that's not possible and you are in bad weather while sailing solo preparation may not be everything but don't neglect it. Now that’s all the ‘nasty stuff’ out of the way!! What else?? 

Along with the storms, the bad weather comes the good .... when you can be sailing in the Trade Winds, blue sky and turquoise sea alongside palm fringed islands.... a beaming smile lighting up your face! 

       Safety at Sea                Solo Circumnavigators         Whitsunday Islands

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