Pre – Storm advice for your yacht – Simon Phillips

Some ‘pre- storm’ advice for your yacht from Simon Phillips, owner of Seaway.


We already have had the remnants of Ophelia ‘storm’ through the UK, causing a lot of damage throughout the UK, so I have put a brief blog together to give you some food for thought for securing your yacht prior to further autumn & winter gales arriving.

Preparation and a few simple tasks onboard to make sure that your yacht is going to be safe from the named and unnamed storms which will pass through.

A summary of what I recommend and the attention needed;

  • Lines and Fenders
  • Sails
  • Dinghy
  • Outboard Engine
  • Deck gear
  • Covers
  • Halyards
  • Spare lines


Lines & Fenders; this sounds obvious, but many people do not increase the number of fenders and lines on their boat for the winter. They prefer to leave them in the locker for when they ‘may be needed!’ Preparing your boat is when they are needed – bring them out and put them to use!  Try to use one line for one job, and where possible have only one line on one cleat.

Ideally, you want to minimise the for/aft movement of your boat in a marina, which makes the fenders rub in the same positions. Tighten the spring lines, and introduce a duplicate to these in a different position on the boat / pontoon. Bow and stern lines should be duplicated also. Fenders – put these out and secure them to the base of stanchions, this way there is less leverage on the stanchions.


Sails – Furling – ensure these are securely furled with the sheets wrapped around the furled headsail to keep in protected. Ensure the furling line is securely fastened and the sheets securely fastened to keep the headsail in position, to prevent any unfurling in strong winds.

Mainsail – ensure this has sail ties on it, securely fastened and the main cover well clipped on. If very strong winds are forecasted, it may be worth wrapping a line around the sail cover too, to keep it from lifting and potentially ripping in the strong winds. It looks a little ugly, but better this than a ripped mainsail cover!


Dinghy – if it is possible, this is best rolled away and stowed below. This way, nothing can happen to it.  If this cannot be done, then having the dinghy securely mounted either on deck or on davits, is very important. Either way, remove the bung! Rain water will then be able to drain out. It is a useful idea to attach some string from the bung to the tender, then it cannot be lost overboard when you come to need it when launching the tender! If on deck, then enough line – webbing straps work very well, to securely hold the dinghy down and prevent from lifting. Some marina’s will be able to securely store your tender.


Outboard engine – This is safest in the locker. Left on a pushpit, this creates high amounts of weight onto the pushpit, which is not ideal.


Deck gear – remove any spare blocks / winch handles etc. and wash in fresh water and stow below. They don’t need to be out and may as well be made ready for next season or when you will use them next!


Covers – Yachts fitted with large covers / sprayhoods etc., ensure these fit well and are tightly secured all over. An overall cover must have strong webbing straps fitted which are tightly secured so the wind cannot get underneath and lift it up and start shaking it loose. The same for sprayhoods – tightly fastened and buttoned up! It is worth removing a bimini type shade in the cockpit so they do not spend the whole of the winter out – the rain will get in from the side anyway!


Halyards – Secure these away from the mast to a stantion base / dorade bars / toerail etc. Anywhere which is secure and away from the mast. It does the halyard nor the mast any good banging away all winter – let alone your neighbours! Tension these halyards and make good to prevent any movement.


Spare lines – mooring lines. It may be a good idea in leaving a mooring line or two in the cockpit in case the harbour master sees something amiss onboard and needs to add a line / lash something down.