At the core off all we do as sailors is one thing – weather. It’s is our engine, our bliss or our most frightening adversary. Because of this, we need to know more about it than the average Joe. The subject of weather is vast and can be complicated, but let’s start with the basic ideas surrounding weather. Here’s a little list of five things to think about as it pertains to weather.
- Check the Weather
The first thing to always remember is to simply check the marine weather forecast before leaving the dock. Of course this is obvious, but so many sailors look out the window, see the sun, raise the main and off they go. The VHF has a dedicated channel that continually plays the weather forecast in a weird half man, half robot voice – while you’re straightening out the boat for the trip, listen and make sure there are no extreme conditions coming down the pike. More than one over-anxious sailor has been caught with their pants down in this way.
- Watch the Waves
The behavior of the waves will tell a sailor quite a bit. Not all of us have anemometers but we all can keep our eyes on what’s happening with wave action and understand how much wind is present. Knowing the speed of the wind is important in determining the proper amount of sail to have up. Here’s what to look for:
- 5-knots of wind creates small wavelets in the water.
- 10-knots of wind scattered whitecaps appear.
- 15-knots the wind is forming waves – many of them with breaking tops.
- 20-knots the wind begins to kick up spray and life on the water can get a bit more intense.