Surprised by the storm? Don’t panic, here’s how to put yourself in the hood


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What to do if within minutes you find yourself in the middle of a storm? The first thing is to try to maintain clarity and not be overwhelmed by fear. At such times, panic can prove to be a worse enemy than bad weather. There are two main solutions facing those in this condition: the first, if sea and wind do not allow you to sail you are at a proper distance from the coast, is to put on the hood to avoid causing damage to the hull, mast and people on board; of the second possibility, that is, fleeing aft to get away from any danger of collision with the coast, we will deal with in the next focus. Now let’s see how to put on the hood correctly.


The hood is a maneuver that allows us to wait out the passage of bad weather while trying to keep the boat as “still” as possible, thanks to the turbulence created by the keel that manages to lessen the impact of the waves. Balance is sought by using three sails (mainsail, storm and headsail) of which the last two are designed specifically for bad weather. Depending on the wind and sea conditions, you will choose what type of hood to implement.

Spinning cape – The mainsail (or headsail) is reefed and caulked to iron, the forestage at the bow is neck, and the rudder is tacked to the luff. At this point everything depends on the reaction of the boat: it is possible to do this maneuver with different combinations of sails until the correct balance is achieved. This position allows the crew to take refuge below deck without forgetting to take a look outside every now and then.

Dry cap – The mainsail and jib are lowered and the rudder is set to leeward so that the boat goes to windward. The hull will thus take a constant position relative to the waves. This technique is used when the wind is too strong and does not allow the sails to be kept rigged; the hull will set itself up to the crosswind of the swell, generating an annoying but not dangerous roll. The boat will continue to advance at 1 to 2 knots due to wind action on the mast and waves on the hull. This position becomes dangerous when conditions worsen, risking damage to the deck or capsizing the boat.

Floating anchor hood – The floating anchor allows the boat to be held with the bow facing the direction of the waves and can be spun from either the stern or the bow. In the former case, the boat is at risk of taking on waves from behind, while in the latter case, the hull is subject to severe pitching at the bow, which could damage the rudder from the blows it receives. The floating anchor should be used only when absolutely necessary. In fact, its work puts stress on both the hull and the boat’s rigging, because it prevents the hull from passing the wave naturally, forcing it to pitch. For the floating anchor, it is advisable to use an elastic line with a length equal to the distance between two consecutive waves.



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