Wind guidance and preferred apps


New Member
Looking for advice a little more specific than “it depends on the sailor” or “it depends on the boat” or “it depends on the body of water” I get that these are guidelines from an individual’s perspective and not “rules” to live by.

I have been out in too much wind for my skill set single handing my 14.2 (no reefing points on the main and non-furled jib). I think that day it was gusting upto 20mph. I have had other days of good sailing with what was forecasted to be 6-8mph on the Windfinder app on iPhone. So I feel good if I see a forecast around that mark. But that tight band limits my sailing opportunities, that are already limited by other non-weather factors.

What I am looking for is your personal experience to help me expand my guide-rails a bit in each direction.

It takes a bit for me to get the boat to the lake, rigged, and on the water. So “go find out for yourself” is a bigger investment. I don’t want to waste my time to just find out that there is too much wind or not enough to really get some time on the water under sail. Although I fully recognize that that is the only way for me to learn.

What are your personal limits (high and low) on the wind forecast before you decide to head out for a day of sailing?
What apps or services do you rely on to get that wind forecast?
Thanks for the advice.
My worst day in the 14.2 was 25+ knots with big gusts. I thought we'd be OK, because I had a great crew and we were doing windward/leeward races. I broke stuff and exhausted myself getting back to shelter and shore. So for me, 25+ is right out. I have also had difficulty the first time around a course that had a 90+ degree shift as you passed a point of land. But once I knew it was there, it was OK. So, wind speed, how gusty it is, how shifty it is, and the crew are all factors.

At the low end, I don't mind catching puffs and ghosting along. That's a skill set of its own. But I find guests on the boat get tired of that real quick. So, visible wind on the water is my lower limit.
I have a had a good time in 10 knots gusting to 18 with an adept crew. It was an opportunity to teach them to follow the timing and angle of wind shifts as the gusts came in then left. The first couple gusts had us on the edge of our seats (see what I did there?) but once we got into a rhythm, it was fun sailing. So, I would put my upper end at 12-18, depending on who is crew and whether it is gusty/shifty or not.

I usually look for days with a forecast in the 6-12 knots ballpark. If the wind is building, I try to be on the water before it does, so I can get comfortable and adjust as it builds.
Installing reef points and don't even attempt hooking up the jib on windy days is the secret. Capri's very forgiving with that setup. And adding a trolling motor and tiller tender makes it easy to hoist/lower while underway. Also trying to perform docking manuvers with sail only is something I prefer not to do. Anybody going out on a windy day with a full main and jib up is looking for trouble! Conversely, going out on hot, windless days under power and with my boom canopy up, I head to my favorite quiet area, drop anchor, and swim or take a nap! See my earlier posts for a wealth of pics showing how I've rigged mine for the various sail configurations.
I think it depends on the difference between the gusts and the wind speed. The width of the lake combined with wind direction definitely makes a difference on how long the gusts will persist.

I aim for 8-18knots of wind with max gusts around 20knots. Beyond that it’s not relaxing

I use the free version of PredictWind.
  • The HRRR model seems to be the most accurate, most of the time.
  • I found that if the NAM predicts low wind, then it’s probably going to be more true.
  • The ECMWF is the only one that predicts or really far into the future. I use this to scout a possible good sailing day coming up

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Thank you for this thread! I single-hand my boat on long, narrow lake. While I have a few years of sailing experience, it's spotty and I'm mostly self-taught, so I consider myself at the higher end of "beginner." My comfort zone is <12mph gusts. I don't like to heel excessively. An 8-12 or even 8-10 day is ideal. The lake is notorious for shifting winds. Sometimes 180 degrees. So I have (too much) experience adjusting to changing winds. I've wondered if <12mph was being too timid, but you all confirmed that this is cool.