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mike21070 07-25-2013 02:10 PM

Wind Direction Question from Noob...
I guess this is why 'noob' rhymes with 'boob'... What follows is probably a dumb question, but hey, it's not like anyone here knows me, right?

Today was my 3rd solo sail on my 16 foot Topper dinghy here in Abu Dhabi. It went really, really well, so I'm pretty stoked. Anyhoo...

I just started sailing last year, and each time I took a lesson it seemed that the wind was coming from all different directions, and it just baffled me as to how to harness it properly. Today, for the first time, I felt like it really was just coming basically from the same direction for the entire time I was out, which leads me to my question:

Does the wind basically blow in from the same direction for many hours of the day? In other words, if it is coming in from the North at 5:00 P.M. when I set sail, will it generally stay in that direction for the next 2 hours?

Make sense?

Thanks for any help. I felt like today was a huge step in my learning process if I can understand wind direction.


Donna_F 07-25-2013 02:21 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Every last sailor on earth was once new and asking questions. The day you stop learning or feel you know everything is the day you should put your boat up for sale.

What you're describing is one of the things that makes sailing exciting and makes it stand out from those boat on which you (so they think) simply turn the key and go.

Your challenge is to get your boat to sail in whatever the wind direction. All of us face the same challenge. Most areas (with the exception of mountain lakes) have a prevailing wind where, during certain times of the year, the wind direction is usually in the same direction. That, of course can still change given daily changes in weather conditions. A sudden wind shift may signal an oncoming storm or some other change in weather. Where I sail, in hot weather the wind usually dies in late afternoon. However, there have been days recently where the wind was light during the day and picked up nicely into and throughout the evening. You just have to take what comes.

Given the same destination as an example, some days you may reach it on a single beam reach, other days you may have to tack through the wind to get there. It just depends on how Nature feels when she gets up that morning.

That's the simple answer. Next you'll start dealing with sail trim and getting obsessive with minor adjustments to increase your speed that oh-so-essential tenth of a knot.

blutoyz 07-25-2013 02:31 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Most times on a coast ( i can't speak for lake sailing) you will have a prevailing wind at certain times of the day but it will normaly jump around a few degrees in my experience. It is really noticeable when you are trying to go upwind (close hauled) but on most other points of sail a simple tweak and you are right back in the sweet spot.

If you play around on youtube you will find the explanation changes throughout the day

jimgo 07-25-2013 02:31 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
On the lake near my house, we're subject to constant changes in direction and velocity due to the surrounding terrain. Some days aren't so bad, but other days you'll sail along at 6-8 knots, then drop to zero, then 30 seconds later the wind will be coming from 45 degrees off, run for a few minutes, then die again.

blutoyz 07-25-2013 02:32 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Oh yeah....
Dont apologize for asking questions...this was a good one;)

Barquito 07-25-2013 02:38 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Even if you are in a steady wind, if you approach a large obstruction, like a line of trees on shore, the wind could curl over the top and actually go the other direction at the water surface. Another thing that can be confusing is if the wind is very light. When the wind just goes dead, it can be mistaken for the sail not being trimmed in. Contantly try to sense the wind direction by trimming in and out your sail.

Seaduction 07-25-2013 02:54 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Just go to this website and you can find the wind predictions for your area for the time you are going sailing. Easy as pie, eh??
Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers - PassageWeather

Donna_F 07-25-2013 03:04 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Just keep in mind that all wind prediction site forecasts are educated guesses of what might happen.

skysail 07-25-2013 03:07 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
Never hurts to take a meteorology class if able. I have been studying meteorology for a few years now in college, and understanding basics will go a long way in my opinion.

aprilsails 07-25-2013 03:11 PM

Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...
When I first started sailing smaller boats I also felt like the windw as jumping around on me. There were two reasons for this:

-Apparent wind is the wind as you feel it while the boat is moving. Unless if you are in irons or going directly with the wind on a dead run you are never going to feel the true wind. It helps to track the wind with the waves. I found on a smaller boat since I was changing my direction more often (mostly just for fun) my apparent wind would change as well. This can be disconcerting.

- If you are sailing a smaller boat it is usually quite close to shore (river, lake, coast). Shore effect can make a huge difference in the wind in an area. Large stands of trees, hills, cliffs, and even tall buildings can curve the wind around them and this can throw you off. If you get further away from shore the wind direction should steady out.

And sometimes it just changes :)

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