Whatever the Weather
Itís standard practice to check the marine weather before casting off the dock lines. When youíre planning a 4-day cruise, like our ASA 104 Bareboat Charter Class, this can be a problem. Most weather forecasts are only accurate for 24-36 hours. After that, the upper winds begin to change, and the forecast changes. Case in point is my 104 class in May.
The forecast for the first day was for rain to begin during the late morning. and to continue throughout the afternoon, evening, and night. The sun was shining with a very nice 10-12 kt wind from the southeast, almost perfect for our short sail to the Wye River and overnight anchorage in Shaw Bay. Throughout the afternoon, the sun continued to shine, but clouds began to build to the west. Just as we were relaxing and thinking of setting up the grill, the rain began to fall, so we simply cooked our chicken on the galley stove. We always plan our meals to be flexible! When we settled down for our first nightís sleep, the rain continued to drum on the cabin top. I donít know about you, but rain on the roof, or in this case on the deck, is just about as good as counting sheep. Of course, we had checked the forecast for the following day Ė heavy RAIN all day, and strong winds.
In the morning, rain still washing the deck, we saw blue sky approaching. We cooked our breakfast, relaxed, and waited for the blue skies to arrive. We set sail and headed for Annapolis. Remember those heavy winds? Well, we had light and variable winds for more than half our sail. North of Thomas Point, one student voiced her pleasure in the good weather instead of the projected rain and wind. Too late! Never tempt the weather gods! As I moved forward to drop the mainsail for our final approach to the harbor, one lone storm cloud miraculously appeared overhead and dropped buckets of rain on Zufrieden and me without my rain gear!
The forecast for our third dayís sail to the Magothy River called for strong winds out of the north, and waves 3-4í. We found ourselves needing to motorsail north under the Bay Bridge and into the Magothy where we had some very nice wind. We did our MOB drills and sailed into the anchorage. That evening, as we grilled our salmon steaks and zucchini, we watched the start of the Wednesday night round the buoy race from our ringside seats! During our last night, the weather forecast finally caught up to us. The winds picked up to 15kt with gusts to 20kt. When we set our anchor, we made sure we had a good firm hold, so despite the stronger winds, we had a safe night on the hook. As we prepared for departure, we reefed the main, had a great broad reach down the river to the entrance, then headed up to a close haul for our beat across the bay. After clearing Love Point into the Chester River, we jibed and headed to Kent Narrows and home.
The moral: always check the weather report and be prepared! If youíre ready to handle the worst weather, youíll enjoy the moments when the forecast doesnít live up to the bad report. If you are planning to sail more than just overnight, always be ready for a major change in weather. Here on the bay, our weather patterns flow from west to east and change every 3-4 days. When youíre ready to experience a great 4-day voyage, come join us at R&R Charters and Sail School!
Provisioning 101 -
Part of every sailing experience is provisioning your vessel. For a day sail youíll need to
be sure to have lots of fresh water available for you and your crew. ASA recommends 2 quarts to 1 gallon per person per day, depending upon the temperatures.
Youíll also want to have some snacks. Mixed nuts are always good, along with something salty like chips or pretzels. Donít forget to plan your lunch. You may just want to bring some sandwiches from home, but youíll need to have some fresh fruit, and maybe some fresh vegetables and dip. And of course youíll want something sweet! I would suggest some chocolate or home-baked cookies. Yum!
to sail on your own yet. You can always book Zufrieden for a captained charter for a day, a weekend, a week, or maybe just a sunset sail. Naturally, youíll be allowed to take the helm and gain some great coaching as you enjoy the waters of the Chesapeake.
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