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When Is Sailing In A Blow The Most Dangerous?



The biggest danger you have when sailing in a good storm is when you have limited sea room, when you don’t have much room to maneuver. Keep away from a lee shore, as mentioned before because it is an issue. Make sure there’s no shallow water downwind from you.
A sudden thunderstorm can also be an issue.  This is because they move quickly and the winds tend to come downward, hit the water, and fan out in more than one direction. There can be sudden and violent wind shifts with these thunderstorms. That can be just as bad, if not worse, as the wind speed itself. For example, you’ve got your sails strapped down and maybe a reef or two in (close hauled).  Next thing you know, a storm goes by and shifts the wind. Now it’s off your quarter at the same speed and you’re going to take a knockdown because your sails are pinned in too tight. Depending on how the situation is, you could end up taking some water—that could be dangerous.
The same holds true for a power boat. The power boat needs sea room and options when dealing with the weather. A fast-moving thunderstorm can just as easily overwhelm a small power boat if they are not careful with the sudden change in wind direction.
A pontoon boat is just one example of a boat affected by wind. Again, in a violent thunderstorm, the wind should be one of your main concerns. These boats are aluminum and need a lot of sail area. Most have an upper sundeck which can catch a lot of wind when docking.  Five people lost their lives in March 2004 while on a 36-foot pontoon water taxi being hit by a sudden squall. This happened in Baltimore Harbor. The wind action changed during a thunderstorm.


Robin G. Coles is a passionate marine enthusiast and sailor who has interviewed countless industry experts as well as visited, interviewed personnel at, written about, and photographed hundreds of marine ports in the US and abroad. She is also an author, columnist in her local paper and owner of For more information on her book: Boating Secrets: 127 Top Tips to Help You Buy and/or Enjoy Your Boat, go to



Print | posted on Friday, November 16, 2012 4:10 PM