Weather report cutoff - where at?

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So my wife and I took out the Capri this morning, along with out two teenage nieces...

We had a great time right up until the wind got crazy. Things got crazy in a hurry; the wind was gusting from zero to full blast, switching from one direction to another, then still, then back up and gusty.

My wife and one niece spent the entire boat ride squealing and clutching the the sides of the boat. I was getting frustrated, because as soon as we started making good progress, the wind died, switched directions, or would disappear. We struggled to have a good time, to say the least.

My question is this: when you're looking over the weather report for coming days, what are the signs that lead you to decide, "Yes - THAT'S going to be a great sailing day!" or - the opposite - "Nope - we'll only be frustrated with a weather report like that."

Where's the cutoff? We had wind gusts of up to 28 mph, but nothing consistent at all.

The only thing that saved me was our little 2 hp Honda. We were on the opposite side of the lake when things REALLY kicked up and out of control. So, we dropped sail, fired up the Honda, and headed in. Simply put: we gave up.

So - what do you guys look for in the weather report?
Interesting topic, and a good one to dicuss.

It isn't all the forecasts fault, although there are days I'd like to shoot the weatherman for how incredibly wrong the forecasts are.

I started a log book when I started to sail on my own. One of the things I liked to do is if the weather wasn't rain, several days out, I'd plan on sailing (regardless of what it'd post for wind forecast). is a decent place to get fair forecasts by the way (enter your town, or zipcode and it gives you the nearest weather station to you for NOAA broadcasts)... NOAA is generally who issues the alerts for storms too, so a good place to start for weather.

Anyway... My log book I keep track of the forecast for say Saturday, as it stands Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri, and even Sat morning... It is really interesting to see how incredibly inaccurate forecasts REALLY are. The conclusion I got from all of it? Three days out you can be reasonably sure Rain/Sun forecasts are right... 6 hours out they are only about 50% accurate on wind predictions.

But the answer is more difficult than even that. All those on this forum sail the Capri 14, a pretty small sailboat. Some sail much bigger. But I can be reasonably confident that most of us sail in protected waters MOST of the time (meaning bays, lakes, reserviors, etc). There is a HUGE disadvantage to that! The winds are rarely predictable, and rarely steady.

This is real simple now, and bear with me... I sail lakes in mountains... and it is AWFUL sailing MOST of the time. The wind swirls off the tops of the mountains and becomes a huge whirlpool of wind if/when it hits the water. Think of air as fluid, and on a much larger scale of course, mountians-trees-houses-marinas, are impediments to the fluid causing eddys in that fluid flow.

I bet the wind direction you had, pushed the wind over a mountain, or land mass, causing the wind to be squirrly.

What I am getting at is, the larger the body of water the more consistent the wind.. That isn't always the case, but it holds fairly true. Lakes with flatlands around them better than lakes with mountains around them.

Now for forecasts? Congratuations sailor, you should probably get good at doing your own! Sorry... but a good sailor will not just read forecasts, but know when weather is changing as he/she is sailing. Cloud types help.. wind temps help. With enough observation you'll know when to pack it in.

My father, and life long sailor always says... "Reef for the puffs." As well you should when you recreationally sail... Racing (that's another story). It is a simple philosophy that says, you run the least amount of sail initially... you can always easily increase sail, decreasing can be difficult. If you have too little sail and a puff comes along, you are ready... if you have too much sail up and a puff comes along, you going to have a hard time keeping her on her feet..

0-28mph winds however, I don't think you should have been sailing. Observing the water when you get there helps... you'll see the ripples higher on the water in the areas where there are puffs. Was the wind 28mph though in open areas above the land masses.. that might have been what you were up against.

Also, now is a good time to recognize the signs on of the beaufort scale! look at the pictures for 28mph... you'd have had rolling long waves and cresting white caps with spray! That is a FORCE 5... Small craft advisorys start at FORCE 4!

PM me for more on this if you like... because I find it one of the hardest lessons to teach a new sailor (an one that I do not always practice well myself), how to recognize when he/she can get their best sailing in, and when they should not venture out at all.