PBO Engine Expert Stu Davies was onboard his boat this morning when this violent storm hit. Here's how he survived unscathed


Witnessing a violent storm from your boat is always unnerving, especially when it hits without warning. Fortunately we were in the yard and not at anchor.

The Algarve in Portugal is beautiful. Sailing the area is a delight. However paradise can have its downsides. Ten years ago the airport at Faro had part of its roof ripped off by a micro burst of wind. The rest of the area was untouched.

Lightning strikes and 60-knot winds hit the boatyard in Faro

Our boat is kept in Bruce’s Yard in Faro, one of the best-kept and run facilities in the area. When we first visited eight years ago we noted that sturdy tie-down straps are provided free-of-charge to tie all boats down.

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Today we saw the value of them. We had planned to launch today but were warned by staff that there were going to be big thunderstorms and they counselled waiting a day. Another friend had seen that the Portuguese weather people had issued a red warning for the area. We decided wait a day. We were glad we did!

Howling wind

At about 0630 we were awoken by the sound of rain starting to fall. We got up quickly and closed all hatches. The sound of the rain was soon overtaken by the howl of the wind. It rose from a howl to a screech, the boat started rocking in its cradle and the cockpit canopy looked as if it was going to take off. My solar panels, which hinge on the rail, were held in place by a sturdy elasticated tie-down but were starting to move around. The wind was by now an incessant screech as can be heard in the video.

I estimate the wind strength was gusting upwards of 60 knots. Our neighbour said that he had been in a hurricane, and that it sounded just like that!

It lasted about half an hour. It was terrifying and we were on the hard. My thoughts were for friends who were out at anchor. They were ok; they experienced 30-knot wind but lots of thunder and lightning. These micro bursts of wind, apparently, are very localised here.

Lots of debris

The aftermath in the yard? a bilge keeler slipped off its blocks with no damage, a small boat waiting to launch fell over but again no damage. There was lots of debris blown around with some hatches and solar panels strewn around.

The moral of the story? Make sure if you’re on the hard that strong tie-downs are fitted. Bruce’s Yard have that nailed – quite literally.

Staying safe on the hard

The secret of staying safe on the hard is good cradles and good tie downs. People often live on their boats whilst they do repairs. If you’re living aboard in the boatyard, plug into the mains to keep batteries charged, and fix hoses from the thru-hulls for grey water drains into containers.

Sturdy tie-downs are essential in a yard prone to extreme bouts of weather

We have taken one of our toilets out and put in a portable camping toilet  – it’s our designated “holding tank” for sensitive areas and staying on the hard.

Make sure that your boat is “ready for sea” at all times. Don’t leave loose junk under your boat.

And take note – none of the local forecasters, or even the famous online forecasts picked the micro burst up!

It is lovely here BUT the weather can turn nasty quickly.