It’s Cyclone Season Again

Table of contents

Are you prepared?

The tropical cyclone season runs from 1 November to 30 April and for most people just going through a cyclone can be a frightening experience, let alone having to ride it out at sea. Fortunately, with technology today we don’t get caught out with cyclones. There are enough early warning systems in place to keep us up to date with weather patterns.


The Bureau of Meteorology has advised that there is likely to be a below average of tropical cyclones for the 2023 – 2024 Australian tropical cyclone season.

Depending on the type of vessel, your operations and where you operate there are going to be many factors to take into account. For example, a 22mtr trawler is going to behave differently to a 30mtr barge so that’s the first thing to take into account.

Things to consider

There are a lot of factors to consider when preparing for a cyclone and it’s going to be different for every vessel, but we’ll break them into 3 sections as below.

1.Before the cyclone

  • Your position
  • Can you reach a safe haven
  • Do you have the necessary equipment to ride out a cyclone

2. Cyclone Watch

  • What gear and/or equipment needs to be stowed or secured
  • Engine room and engines
  • Stores and other items

3. Cyclone alert: cyclone predicted to pass very close within 8 hours

  • Electrical equipment
  • Life jackets
  • Life rafts
  • Tenders/dinghies
  • External fixtures
  • Fuel
  • Communications

These are the basic things that you need to consider when preparing for cyclones. Remember to look carefully at your operations for other things that you may need to be taken into account!

Steps in preparing for a cyclone

Below is a simple guide for preparing for a cyclone. Please note this is a basic guide and depending on the size and type of vessel there may be additional items you need to include.

1.Before the cyclone

  • Crew to be briefed
  • Ensure all hatches are operational and can be secured correctly
  • Check anchoring equipment and anchor winch
  • Check all safety gear

2. Cyclone Watch

  • Secure all gear and equipment as low as possible along centreline
  • Secure all loose items and equipment
  • Check operation of bilge pumps to all compartments
  • Ensure bilges are clear of any potential material that may foul intakes
  • Close and secure all hatches and doorway

3. Cyclone alert: cyclone predicted to pass very close within 8 hours

  • Shut down unnecessary electrical equipment
  • Close any vents that can be closed other than engine room vents
  • Lifejackets ready
  • For fishing vessels empty brine tanks and secure closed
  • For cargo vessels secure all cargo appropriately
  • Secure dinghies/tenders (if any)
  • Secure all rigging
  • Ensure day tank is full and storage tanks are pressed up
  • Ensure communication equipment is operational
  • Seal spurling pipes
  • All galley items to be stowed and secured
  • Secure closed refrigerator and cold room doors
  • Tape wheelhouse windows in a cris cross pattern
  • Maintain communications with other vessels and/or land base
  • Have safety line ready
  • During the height of the cyclone do not attempt to move around on the deck

The above provides the basic steps for preparing for and riding out a cyclone safely.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to get to a safe anchorage to avoid the cyclone where possible. If unable to get to a safe anchorage ensure you follow the steps in this article and any others that may be relevant to your vessel and its operations.


If you operate in a cyclone area, ensure you have a documented procedure for cyclones in your SMS. While this article relates to vessels it is also a good guide for shore-based businesses.

Don’t have a cyclone procedure then contact Shorlink for assistance in developing yours!

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