This article is an excerpt from NauticEd’s online Skipper Course, a comprehensive online sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors to learn how to sail large sailboats 26 ft (8m) and above. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle to also master maneuvering under power and docking!
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Weather services will also provide weather warnings, such as small craft or gale warnings for a certain area, as well as fog predictions. These warnings are very accurate and should be heeded. Small craft advisory and gale warning pennants (flags) may be flown in some marinas and other official locations alerting day sailors to be wary of conditions as they leave a sheltered harbor.
For any country and/or local area, it is a good idea now to search around for your local warnings issued via the web interface.
For the USA, you can use the National Weather Service.
For any country including the USA, Weather Underground is a good reference to search for severe weather warnings.
Major storms also get major media coverage. But knowing a storm is coming is not enough. You must also know how to get out of its path in adequate time. Heavy weather should be avoided at all costs by inexperienced sailors, regardless of how strong the vessel may be.
Today there is little excuse for sailors not knowing quite specifically what kind of weather they will encounter if they simply use the weather services freely available on board a vessel, such as handheld VHF radios or apps.
In summary, before beginning any sailing adventure, be it a short day sail or an extended journey, check the weather and sea conditions at your destination and monitor your weather throughout the voyage.
If you have major trepidations about weather or sea, the prudent thing is to stay in your slip until you are convinced your sailing skills are capable of handling the existing weather and sea conditions.
Heavy Rainstorm in Anegada, BVI
You can learn more in the Skipper Course....
Knowledge and theory for longer distances and overnight sailing in diverse conditions. The Skipper Course is a comprehensive sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors wanting to learn how to sail larger sailboats 26ft to 56ft. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle to also master maneuvering under power and docking!