There are a ton of sources of weather information on the internet. I regularly check a couple of NOAA sites. However, without a lot of experience to compare current conditions against, it can be difficult to make sense of what I’m reading and how it will apply to us.
There’s an old salt living on his boat here in Newport along with his Samoan wife. He’s 70 now but spent much of his life sailing the legendary south seas. In conversations he strikes me as a conservative and prudent sailor who is neither macho nor looking for trouble. My kind of sailor. We were shooting the breeze (having a gam) the other day and he left me with a couple little gems to help sort out what the weather reports are telling me.
1.) Avoid heading out to sea when the sum of the height of the swell and the wind waves is greater than 10′. With this info, I can see that all of the predictions in the above screen shot fall below this number so none of these would be days to avoid.
2.) Don’t leave port if the wave height (in feet) equals the period between crests (in seconds). So, if the wave height is 9′ and the period is 9 seconds, avoid going out because you’re going to get beat up. He maintains that, after a couple of days out, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are because by then you’ll be getting used to the motion and everything that was going to get thrown off its shelf has already been shaken loose and re-stowed.
I also collected these words of weather wisdom. I haven’t taken the time to really think about them but I like them anyway. Wonder if they hold water? Maybe someone with more weather savvy than I can suss out the meteorological sense behind these gems.
–Mackerel skies and mares tales, make tall ships carry short sails.
–If woolly fleeces deck the heavenly way, be sure no rain will mar a summer’s day.
–With the rain before the wind, stays and topsails you must mind. But with the wind before the rain, your topsails you may set again.
When the sea-hog (porpoise) jumps, stand by at your pumps.
First rise after low, foretells a stronger blow.
Seagull, seagull, sit on the sand, It’s never good weather when you’re on the land.
and, of course:
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.