As a weather-dependent sport, it is important for sailors to be able to understand and detect weather forecasts and predictions by a number of methods. Luckily, our guest-blogger and seasoned sailor, Louise of the popular blogs, Sandy Toes and Writer Woes and Bailey Boat Cat shares her tips for understanding weather for sailing through using weather forecasts and personal observation for your next sailing holiday.
One of the most important things for sailors to consider before heading out of the marina is the weather. All conscientious sailors will check the weather forecast before planning a sailing trip. We’ve all heard the saying, red sky at night sailors’ delight, red sky in the morning sailors warning. You can also tell a lot about the weather by the colour of the sea, of course it’s a reflection of the sky, but from a boat you can see weather approaching from miles away.
How useful is the weather forecast though in reality? We’ve met lots of seasoned sailors who refer to the weather forecast as a horoscope with numbers! I absolutely love this analogy!
I think their point is, regardless of the forecast, you always need to make you’re own judgment call. You can make you’re decision on the suitability of the weather for sailing, based on the forecast and your own observations. If you notice that the barometer is falling fast then you can be sure that there’s a gale on the way and it’s probably not the day to throw off the bow lines. You can also tell a lot by looking at the cloud formations, you can study these easily with the aid of a reference book until you know how to judge them yourself. You can also use your common sense to look around at the current conditions where you are. If there’s thunder and lightening in the distance, make sure you know which way it’s heading.
Once you have all of the information you can cross check them with the weather forecast and make your decisions based on all of your findings.
Even after all of the preparation and forecasting, sometimes the weather changes quickly and you might be caught by surprise. To minimise a mad rush to reef, drop sails or heave too, you can do a few things.
Whether horoscopes are your thing or not, weather forecasts are essential for sailors, as is your common sense!