How to prepare your moored yacht for heavy weather

Here are a few sensible precautions to consider when preparing your yacht to be left at its berth when bad weather is forecast. 

If you are leaving your vessel for several weeks, you should assume that it will be affected by bad weather and high winds. Therefore, make sure you leave it in a good state. This will include;

  • Give an extra 18 inches or so between the pontoon and your bow / stern and make sure your spring lines are taut and well secured.
  • Use one mooring line for each job. Namely bow lines, stern line, bow spring and stern spring. Try to use a different pontoon cleat for each line, if possible.
  • Consider using an additional bow line / stern line on the opposite side to help stop the vessel surging and springing into the dock.
  • ‘Double-up’ your bow and stern lines, ideally to the vessels cleats on the opposite side of the vessel. If you can, double up your most critical spring also, perhaps using a spare midships cleat. This will evenly distribute load over several cleats on the vessel and on the dock.
  • If using bowlines on the pontoon cleats, consider passing the bowline loop through the cleat so as to create a cow hitch. This might not be possible if the cleats are regularly used by others. Make sure the bowlines have a generous tail!
  • Make sure that warps do not rub or chafe on the toe rail or stanchions.
  • Make sure the vessel is well-fendered, especially at your vessel’s widest point.
  • Tie the fenders to the base of the stanchions using a round turn and two half-hitches.
  • Secure all sail covers and lash them with cord.
  • Look at the vessel. Can you make it more watertight or reduce windage ? If so, consider a plan to do this for the period that you are away.
  • Make sure all flags and burgees are taken down and safely stowed

Upon leaving the vessel, if you are in a marina you don’t know well, consider taking some photographs of how you left the vessel, if only for your own records. Consider leaving the electricity cable connected and the battery charger on. You should also leave on the auto bilge pump to help save you in the event of a flood.

Leave your telephone number and email address with the marina manager and on board the vessel. You might also want to leave a set of keys with a trusted third party locally.

Finally, keep an eye on the weather. When you see some particularly bad weather coming or perhaps it’s coupled with a tidal surge, it is perfectly reasonable to call your marina and ask them to check your vessel before the storm hits. After all, you are paying them to keep your yacht safe!