tall ship rough seas

How to Navigate a Tall Ship in Rough Seas: 8 Expert Tips!

You must be able to maneuver in choppy waters if you intend to go aboard a tall ship, whether for leisure or as a crew member.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, the scenario might quickly turn dangerous because of the big waves and severe winds.

The information in this article will help you navigate a tall ship in choppy waters.

Understanding the Impact of Rough Seas on a Tall Ship

Before you can learn how to navigate a tall ship in rough seas, it’s important to understand how rough seas can impact a vessel. Here are some of the effects of rough seas on a tall ship:

Increased wave height: Rough seas often come with high waves that can be challenging to navigate.

Heavy winds: High winds can make it difficult to control the ship’s movement, especially if the vessel is not equipped with the right sails.

Strong currents: Rough seas can also bring strong currents that can make it hard to steer the ship in the right direction.

Preparing the Crew and Vessel for Rough Seas

Before setting out to sea, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your crew and vessel for rough seas. Here’s what you should do:

Conduct a safety briefing: Ensure your crew understands the dangers of rough seas and how to stay safe during such conditions.

Check your vessel: Inspect your vessel to ensure it’s seaworthy and has the necessary safety equipment.

Secure loose items: Secure all loose items on deck to prevent them from causing damage or injury during rough seas.

Tips and Techniques

1. Prepare your crew

Before you set sail, make sure your crew is well-trained and experienced. Everyone onboard should know their roles and responsibilities, as well as the emergency procedures in case of an accident.

2. Understand the Weather Conditions

Before setting sail, it’s crucial to check the weather forecast for the area you will be navigating in. Knowing what weather to expect can help you avoid potentially hazardous conditions or plan for them accordingly.

It’s often best to delay your voyage if there is a likelihood of extreme storms or other dangerous weather patterns.

3. Adjust Sails and Rigging

When you’re sailing through rough seas, the wind and waves can quickly shift, making it challenging to maintain the course. Make sure you adjust the sails and rigging as necessary to stay on track. If the wind is too strong, you may need to take down your sails or reef them to reduce their sailing area.

4. Hold Onto the Wheel

In rough seas, it’s best to have a firm grip on the wheel. The ship can move suddenly and unpredictably, so make sure you don’t get thrown off balance. As the helmsman, it’s also important to maintain a steady course throughout the voyage, adjusting the wheel as necessary to stay on track.

5. Follow a Check List

Navigating rough seas requires a lot of attention to detail. So, it’s always a good idea to follow a checklist, especially during important moments like setting or adjusting sails, changing course, trimming the ship, and many others.

Establishing a list will help you avoid missing any important steps, ensuring that your navigation is accurate and safe.

6. Keep an Eye Out for Other Vessels

When seas are rough, it’s easy to focus so much on navigation that you forget to keep an eye out for other vessels. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the horizon to ensure that you don’t unintentionally ram another ship or collide with a fishing boat, which can be life-threatening.

7. Observe the Compass

Navigating in rough seas is much easier if you have an accurate compass. It’s essential to keep the compass dry so that it doesn’t rust or malfunction.

Continuously observing the compass can help you stay on course even in challenging navigational situations.

8. Find a Safe Harbor

When you’re navigating rough seas, it’s always good to have a safe harbor or a place to dock in case things get too challenging.

During your voyage, you can identify multiple anchorages as “safe havens” in locations where you can dock in case the weather turns unfavorable.

Preparing safe navigational plans beforehand and determining the right timing of stopovers is a proactive approach to avoid any potential problems in case of harsh weather.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do if the ship starts to roll excessively in rough seas?

A: Reduce the sail area and try to keep the ship on a steady course.

Q: How can I prevent seasickness in rough seas?

A: Stay hydrated, eat light meals, and avoid reading or staring at a fixed point for too long.

Q: What safety equipment should I have on board during rough seas?

A: Life jackets, life rafts, and distress signals are essential safety equipment to have on board.


While navigating a big ship in choppy waters can be difficult, you can overcome even the most difficult circumstances by being well-prepared, knowledgeable, and skilled.

Even in the wildest of oceans, you may stay safe and enjoy your cruise by heeding the suggestions and guidance we’ve provided above, adhering to the suitable navigational chart, and using your common sense and experience while keeping adequate communications.

Keep your cool at all times, sip some cool water, and enjoy the waves safely.