Maritime Weather

Maritime weather is incredibly important in knowing when to go out and when to stay in.

Sailors use the Beaufort Scale to measure wind strength and whether they are experienced enough or their boat can handle it.

A very high wind can break the fore stay making mast fall over or in incredibly light winds you could be marooned at sea.

In heavy winds it is very likely you will capsize, so learning the correct procedure is a must!

You need to be able to understand the weather and be able to interpret it accordingly.

Beaufort Scale

Force 0: 0-1 knots
Calm; the sea is like a mirror

Force 1: 1-3 knots
Light air; ripple with the appearance of scales are formed, but without foam crests.

Force 2: 4-7 knots
Light Breeze, Small wavelets, still short, but more pronounced. Crests have a glassy appearance and do not break.

Force 3: 7-10 knots
Gentle Breeze; Large wavelets. Crests begin to break. Foam of glassy appearance. Perhaps scattered white horses.

Force 4: 11-16 knots
Moderate Breeze; Small waves, becoming larger; fairly frequent white horses.

Force 5: 17-21 knots
Fresh Breeze; Moderate waves, taking a more pronounced long form; many white horses are formed. Chance of some spray.

Force 6: 22-27 knots
Strong Breeze; Large waves begin to form; the white foam crests are more extensive everywhere. Probably some spray.

Force 7: 28-33 knots
Near Gale; Sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along the direction of the wind.

Force 8: 34-40 knots
Gale; Moderately high waves of greater length; edges of crests begin to break into spindrift. The foam is blown in well-marked streaks along the direction of the wind.

Force 9: 41-47 knots
Severe Gale; High waves. Dense streaks of foam along the direction of the wind. Crests of waves begin to topple, tumble and roll over. Spray may affect visibility.

Force 10: 48-55 knots
Storm; Very high waves with long overhanging crests. The resulting foam, in great patches, is blown in dense white streaks along the direction of the wind. On the whole the surface of the sea takes on a white appearance. The 'tumbling' of the sea becomes heavy and shock-like. Visibility affected.

Force 11: 56-63 knots
Violent Storm; Exceptionally high waves (small and medium-size ships might be for a time lost to view behind the waves). The sea is completely covered with long white patches of foam lying along the direction of the wind. Everywhere the edges of the wave crests are blown into froth. Visibility affected.

Force 12: 64-71 knots
Hurricane; The air is filled with foam and spray. Sea completely white with driving spray; visibility very seriously affected.

Lets just say it is unlikely that you will be in a hurricane.

The worst maritime weather (wind) I have been in is a Force 8 (when I was yachting in Croatia) and the highest I have sailed in is a Force 5 (on the Welsh Harp).

Its good to be able to gauge the maritime weather around you and if it is safe to go out.

Make sure that if you do go out above a Force 3 or 4 that you have adequate safety cover and at least 2 people know you are out on the water and are nearby in an emergency.

Make sure you are wearing a buoyancy aid so that you can float in the water if you capsize.

When you are sailing in high winds, hike continuously and put on lots of kicker.

You may also wish to reef the main and use a storm jib (depending on sailing experience).

If you are sailing in England here is the weather forecast for the next few days:

Weather forecast

Hope the maritime weather is not too bad that you can't sail.

Happy sailing!

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