(Medicane ‘Ianos’ approaching Greece – September 2020).
A weak pun, but the seasonal weather patterns we are experiencing are not the same as they were.
Of course, what that means for you depends to some degree on where you sail, and what sort of sailing you do. This could be great, or not such great news. Kitesurfers are having a ball in some new places, while certain wonderful anchorages are no longer the predictable safe havens they once were, and previous balmy summer months suddenly become somewhat friskier. Elsewhere the beach goers are loving hot days and warmer water. So confused messages and experiences.
However, from a yacht owner’s perspective this means extra vigilance and awareness is required. Fortunately and coincidentally alongside these climate changes the availability and quality of weather forecasting has come on in leaps and bounds over recent years. Back in 2001 we were debating with the Race Director of the Volvo Ocean Race how send packages of daily GRIB files economically to the Volvo 60s as they raced around the world. That was still a challenge at that time and people were suspicious of conformity with one solution. As a result teams did their own thing and would each potentially spend up to $100,000 over the race period on downloading data from various models and websites over their Satellite comms equipment.
Today I have several weather Apps better than that on my mobile phone and laptop, which provide forecasting from several weather models. Furthermore just like you, I can tap into these tools whenever I want at very nominal cost whilst I have access to 3g/4g/5g. These Apps are also remarkably accurate and regularly nail the arrival time of a wind shift or downpour accurate to a half hour. At least that has been my experience in both Northern Europe, Med. Sea and the Middle East.
For a few years now I have preferred Windy.com (Mobile App and WebApp) which I have found reliable and easy to use, but other websites producing great forecasts every day include Predictwind.com, Windfinder.com, dwd.de, MeteoFrance.com, Marine.MeteoConsult.co.uk, and many others. We each have our preferred sources.
The key then is to use them regularly to keep abreast of changes, as at certain times of year with unstable weather the forecast and outlook will change as the weather system develops and the computer model gets new data. We also have to discipline ourselves to look at several models, and check Wind, Wind Gusts, Rain, Thunder, Wave height and period – all of which tell us something that may not be evident from just the wind predictions.
Two notable weather events in the past couple of years in the Med. Sea, that I experienced at first hand are useful examples of the need for both monitoring severe weather development over days, picking your spot to ride it out, and preparation of the boat. On both occasions I was sailing solo which is also different and needs extra thought as there are things you cannot do with only one pair of hands once the wind starts to blow really hard.
See the next two blogs for notes on each of these events.
Medicane ‘IANOS’ – 18 September 2020 – Lefkada and Cephalonia, west coast of Greece.
Derecho storm (no name) - 18th August 2022 - hit Corsica and then continued into Italy
John Quigley, Co-founder and CEO YachtDataBank