The Storm Watch Schedule
The Storm Watch Schedule

Preparing for storms at sea is crucial for the safety of your family and boat, and creating an effective storm watch schedule is key to ensuring everyone stays alert and well-rested during a storm.

The Storm Watch Schedule

Sailing the open seas with your family is an incredible experience, but it’s essential to be prepared for all eventualities, including storms. In this article, we’ll discuss storm tactics and preparation, focusing on the importance of a storm watch schedule. We’ll cover the basics of storm preparation, the different types of storm watches, and how to create an effective storm watch schedule for your family.

Preparing for Storms at Sea

Before we dive into the storm watch schedule, let’s discuss some general storm preparation tips. When sailing with your family, it’s crucial to be prepared for storms, as they can be both dangerous and unpredictable. Here are some essential steps to take before setting sail:

  1. Check the weather forecast: Before embarking on your journey, always check the weather forecast for your intended route. Keep an eye out for any storm warnings or potential weather hazards.

  2. Inspect your boat: Regularly inspect your boat for any signs of wear and tear, and ensure that all equipment is in good working order. This includes checking the rigging, sails, and safety equipment.

  3. Prepare your crew: Make sure that everyone on board is familiar with basic storm tactics and knows what to do in case of an emergency. This includes understanding how to use safety equipment, such as life jackets and harnesses.

  4. Create a storm plan: Develop a storm plan that outlines the steps your family will take in case of a storm. This should include details on how to secure the boat, what to do if someone falls overboard, and how to communicate with each other during the storm.

  5. Pack a storm kit: Assemble a storm kit that includes essential items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, a VHF radio, flares, and a first aid kit. Keep this kit in an easily accessible location on your boat.

Now that we’ve covered some general storm preparation tips let’s discuss the importance of a storm watch schedule.

The Importance of a Storm Watch Schedule

A storm watch schedule is a crucial part of your storm plan, as it ensures that someone is always keeping an eye on the weather and the boat’s surroundings. This is particularly important when sailing with your family, as it allows you to share the responsibility of keeping watch and ensures that everyone is well-rested and alert.

A well-organized storm watch schedule can help you:

  • Detect storms early, giving you more time to prepare and take necessary precautions
  • Monitor the boat’s position and course, ensuring that you stay on track and avoid potential hazards
  • Keep an eye on the boat’s systems and equipment, allowing you to address any issues before they become critical
  • Maintain communication with other boats and shore-based support, providing you with valuable information and assistance during a storm

Now that we understand the importance of a storm watch schedule let’s discuss the different types of storm watches and how to create an effective schedule for your family.

Types of Storm Watches

There are several types of storm watches that you can implement on your boat, depending on the size of your crew and the severity of the storm. Here are some common storm watch types:

  1. Single watch: In a single watch system, one person is responsible for keeping watch at all times. This is suitable for small crews or short trips, but it can be challenging to maintain for extended periods, as it requires the watchkeeper to be constantly alert.

  2. Double watch: A double watch system involves two people keeping watch simultaneously. This provides an extra layer of safety, as it ensures that there are always two sets of eyes on the boat and its surroundings. Double watches are particularly useful during storms, as they allow for better communication and decision-making.

  3. Rotating watch: In a rotating watch system, crew members take turns keeping watch, allowing everyone to get some rest. This is an effective system for larger crews or longer trips, as it ensures that everyone is well-rested and alert.

  4. Mother watch: A mother watch is a designated crew member who is responsible for the welfare of the rest of the crew during a storm. This includes preparing meals, ensuring that everyone is wearing appropriate safety gear, and providing emotional support. The mother watch can be a rotating role, allowing everyone to share the responsibility.

Creating an Effective Storm Watch Schedule

When creating a storm watch schedule for your family, consider the following factors:

  1. Crew size and experience: The size and experience of your crew will determine the type of storm watch system that is most suitable for your boat. For example, a small crew with limited experience may benefit from a double watch system, while a larger crew with more experienced sailors may prefer a rotating watch system.

  2. Duration of the trip: The length of your journey will also impact your storm watch schedule. For short trips, a single or double watch system may be sufficient, while longer trips may require a rotating watch system to ensure that everyone gets enough rest.

  3. Severity of the storm: The severity of the storm will also influence your storm watch schedule. In more severe storms, it may be necessary to implement a double watch system or assign a mother watch to ensure the safety and well-being of your crew.

  4. Personal preferences: Finally, consider the personal preferences of your crew when creating your storm watch schedule. Some people may prefer to keep watch during specific times of day or night, while others may have specific tasks that they are more comfortable performing during a storm.

Here’s an example of a storm watch schedule for a family of four:

  • 0600-0900: Parent 1 on watch, Parent 2 on standby
  • 0900-1200: Parent 2 on watch, Parent 1 on standby
  • 1200-1500: Child 1 on watch (with Parent 1 or 2 on standby), Child 2 on standby
  • 1500-1800: Child 2 on watch (with Parent 1 or 2 on standby), Child 1 on standby
  • 1800-2100: Parent 1 on watch, Parent 2 on standby
  • 2100-0000: Parent 2 on watch, Parent 1 on standby
  • 0000-0300: Child 1 on watch (with Parent 1 or 2 on standby), Child 2 on standby
  • 0300-0600: Child 2 on watch (with Parent 1 or 2 on standby), Child 1 on standby

This schedule ensures that everyone gets a chance to rest and that there is always at least one experienced sailor on watch or standby.


A storm watch schedule is a crucial part of your family’s storm preparation plan, ensuring that everyone is well-rested and alert during a storm. By considering factors such as crew size, trip duration, and personal preferences, you can create an effective storm watch schedule that keeps your family safe and prepared for any weather conditions. Remember, the key to a successful sailing adventure is preparation, communication, and teamwork.