Liveaboard Winter Storm Checklist

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
winter_liveaboard_checklist2048x

If you have lived aboard in a colder climate then you know what can happen if you aren’t prepared for a storm. I had to learn the hard way, my first year as a liveaboard, in Boston during the harsh winter of 2015.

It wasn’t until my sink was full of dishes and I was getting ready to take a quick shower that I realized my water tanks were empty. Worse yet, when my boyfriend and I went to fill them, we were the first on our dock to discover that the water line had frozen solid. Our marina couldn’t fix it at the time, and so we began a two-month waterless saga that involved a lot of hand sanitizer, bottled water and takeout food.

Now that I’m on my third winter and second storm of the 2016-17 season, preparation is becoming second nature and it feels good. I’m at a point where the only things I need to worry about are out my control regardless of what I do, like other people’s boats, freak accidents or power-loss.

As the weather advisories came pouring in over the past couple of days I began going through my mental checklist of precautionary measures and thought I would put it down on paper as an additional reminder to myself, as well as share it, especially for people who might be experiencing their first winters aboard.

Before I go through the list I want to mention one other thing. It is of the utmost importance if you liveaboard as a couple, that both parties know how to complete the tasks on the list and what to do in case of an emergency. My boyfriend flies out of town tonight (perfect timing, of course) so I will be managing any issues that come up on the boat by myself. While he will be accessible by phone, that doesn’t mean I will be able to reach him 100 percent of the time, and who knows if I will even have time to pick up the phone if my shrink wrap is in the process of blowing off. Better that we have a plan and I know what to do in that kind of worst-case scenario.

Winter Storm Checklist

  • Check the levels of your water tanks and propane: refill if necessary
  • Check your dock cleats and line: double-up if necessary
  • Check your neighbor's boats and dock lines
  • Check your shrinkwrap: secure any questionable areas if possible; remove items from the deck
  • Secure things belowdecks: to some this may sound like taking storm prep one step too far, but you would be surprised what a strong gust of wind can do, even at the dock. It only takes one shattered rum bottle before you won’t make this mistake again
  • Touch base with the rest of your marina: we have a Facebook group where people post updates as well as monitor channel 16 during storms
  • Charge up: should you lose power in the storm having a fully charged cell phone battery and laptop will prevent last minute issues
  • Check your bilge: (you should be doing that anyway)
  • Keep essentials on the ready: things like a flashlight, extra fender and shovel will only help not hurt when you need them
  • Tidy up and take care of chores: it’s a lot easier to do the dishes when the boat isn’t swaying side to side in 30-knot winds. Likewise, taking out the trash and recycling, even showering is much easier before the weather takes a turn for the worse
  • Know your plan B: while I’ve never left my boat in a storm, I do know where I will go and how I will get there. For example, if the marina lost power, I wouldn’t choose to stay on the boat. With just a propane heater left for warmth, that I only use while I am awake, it wouldn’t make a viable option. I have a set of keys to a friend’s house nearby, as well as a hotel within walking distance, that I know I can get to should it be necessary
  • And just like the landlubbers, make that dreaded trip to a grocery store: stock up on any essentials that you may not be able to (or want to) run grab on a whim if the weather won’t permit. Don’t forget that extra bottle of rum either, you know, just in case

March 2017

Related

Meridian-X-Spin_2

MOB: A Whistle in the Wind

Mark Wheeler went overboard a few minutes before midnight. He was in the middle of Lake Michigan, 30 miles offshore in 40 knots of wind. As he fumbled for the lanyard to inflate his lifejacket he watched his racing sailboat, Meridian X, disappear into the night at more than 18 ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Slapper stopper  When I came on deck at 0800 to hoist my colors on a visitors’ mooring recently, there was an awkward slop running in. This doesn’t trouble my Mason 44, which has a traditional counter ...read more

Tilly-1

Gear: Tilley Polaris Hat

A True Blue Tilley Sailing is all about fun in the sun, but it sometimes doesn’t take long to get too much of a good thing, especially when on a prolonged cruise or offshore passage. Enter the Tilley Polaris, the latest lid developed by iconic Canadian hat-maker Tilley. ...read more

Sand-TOWEL_MODEL-3

CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel

Sand Be Gone! The summer is hot and full of terrors—not the least of which is the sand that sticks in your beach towel in the hopes of a free ride back to your car or boat. Fortunately, there's now the CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel, engineered in polyester to not only dry quickly ...read more

01-Blowup-Tiwal2_sailing-(3)

Gear: Tiwal Inflatable Sailing Dinghy

Blow-up Boating A few years ago, the French company Tiwal arrived on U.S. shores with that most improbable of products, an inflatable sailing dinghy that actually sails the way a boat is supposed to. Now, nearly 1,000 Tiwal 3’s later, the company is back with its Tiwal 2, an ...read more

Koozy

Gear: 22 Below Koozie

Killer Koozie For all that sailors love the warmth of this time of year, that same warmth can also wreak havoc on their otherwise icy-cold beers. (Unless, of course, you drink them very, very fast. But we won’t go there.) To help deal with this terrible hardship, North ...read more

Cool-Specs

Gear: Gill's Race Fusion Sunglasses

Wicked Cool Specs Is there anything in the world of sailing more fun than a cool pair of shades? Heck, no! And it would hard to find a cooler pair than these new Race Fusion specs from longtime weather-gear manufacture Gill. In addition to looking great, they include a number of ...read more

North_new

Gear: North Sails Waterproof Pack

A few years ago, North Sails made a big push into the apparel business with all kinds of sharp-looking button-down shirts, shorts and fleeces. That doesn’t mean, though, that the North Sails Collection isn’t still plenty practical, as is evident in its new roll-over waterproof ...read more