Have you got storm sails for your yacht? Have you tried to set them in calm conditions, so that if an emergency were to arise you would have little trouble? Those of you who have bought second hand boats, and have a trysail and storm jib in the sail wardrobe need to have a good look at how they will be attached. Equally those who have new boats, and are planning long passages, should think about their sail plan in strong winds.

Is there a separate track for the trysail? If not, will you be able to lower the mainsail and stow it easily in a rising sea and wind? Does the dedicated track come down to near deck level so that the trysail can be bent on and stored in its bag at the base of the mast? How would you secure the boom in such circumstances, assuming you will not be using it? Do you have trysail sheets permanently bent onto the sail? If so how will they be secured to the boat, with snatch blocks or through stern cleats?

Does the storm jib have a wire luff? Is there a dedicated strong point on the foredeck for the tack strop to be bent on to? Do you have separate sheets for the storm jib? (Have you ever tried to secure a rolling or furling headsail, remove the sheets for use with the storm jib in a rising sea and wind? Not at all easy, some would say impossible). On a recent delivery of a 43’ yacht from Levkas in Greece to Dartmouth, the storm jib was impossible to raise in anything stronger than a f4 because the halyard and stay which were meant to be raised as one kept on inextricably entwining around each other. All right for those connubially inclined but not for seamen!