Global Solo Challenge – Weather information on board a sailboat


Global Solo Challenge – Weather information on board a sailboat

by Global Solo Challenge Oct 30, 2021 4:53 AM PDT

Approaching the heavily reefed Cape Horn © Global Solo Challenge

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Every skipper, whether sailing or motor, must always have a clear idea of ​​the current weather situation and the forecast forecast.

Before leaving port, it is at least advisable to listen to the weather forecast broadcast continuously on VHF channel 68 or the relevant channel in your country. If you are sailing abroad, find out about the reference services of the destination country.

Even before arriving by boat, you can keep an eye on changing conditions via the Internet. Even docked on your laptop, ipad, iphone or other smartphone, you should not ignore this source to stay up to date. Remember that a forecast is just a forecast and needless to say, the conditions you will encounter may be different!

Get an overview

When looking at forecasts, do not focus exclusively on your navigation area and on too narrow a time window. Try to get an overview of the previous and next weather pattern for a large area around you. Indeed, although the forecasts are generally quite accurate, the real time could be slightly ahead or behind. A depressive center could pass a little further south or north bringing very different conditions.

The first step would therefore be to visualize the synoptic maps with the current situation and future forecasts. From here you can quickly check if any major weather systems are approaching. In particular, warm or cold fronts with associated precipitation and the likelihood of sustained winds.

Synoptic and weather maps

You can view synoptic maps for your country on your national forecast site, I also recommend using the maps produced by the UK weather service, MetOffice, which have an excellent reputation for readability and cover all of Europe .

Interpretation of synoptic maps

The synoptic tables require a little practice and knowledge to interpret them. A meteorology course or a book can help you understand better, but with a little patience you will also find many resources online. Only your curiosity will allow you to understand them: The basic principles are not very difficult.

Synoptic charts are a graphical representation of atmospheric pressure but also contain a lot of additional information. The pressure difference between two areas is what generates moving air flows, therefore the starting point for understanding the movements of air masses. You will also hear about warm and cold, occluded and stationary fronts and stable and unstable air masses.

Continue reading the full article here…

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