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When you first learn to sail, you'll quickly learn that--between the parts of the boat and basic sailing techniques--there is much to absorb. But, one of the most important lessons you'll learn is to watch the weather. Any good sailing guide should cover how the weather affects your sailing and sailing technique. You should actually begin looking at weather forecasts up to a week before you sail. If you record such weather conditions--and the weather changes that follow--you will be able to better predict conditions for the sailing excursion you have planned.
Every time you are on your sailboat, you should record all details about the weather including wind condition and direction, cloud cover and how the wind affects the water surface and waves. One of the best sailing tips you can get is to find a good book or Internet site that describes different types of cloud cover such as Cirrus, Altostratus, Cumulus and Cirrostratus. But, your record book should also indicate not just what you saw but the changes that occurred in the weather during your sail. That way, over time you can understand the weather and wind patterns in your area at different times of the year. Here is some additional sailing advice with regard to the weather:
*Learn to observe sea swells closely. Are they from an offshore storm? Are there white caps?
*Utilize a wind-angle indicator if you have one. If this information is translated to the cockpit, write it down in your log book.
*Note the direction of the wind by standing over your compass, feeling the wind on your face and determining its direction. Is it chilly? What does that usually predict in your area?
Remember the weather is fickle and storms can arise quickly and possibly capsize your boat. The more you learn about weather and the better your written records are, the better able you will be to choose the best sailing time of the day or week.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|