Made an idiot by the weather, once again... - SailNet Community

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Old 05-23-2009
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Made an idiot by the weather, once again...

On the strength of a NOAA forecast which indicated a big Low pressure area coming from Florida towards the central Gulf, and which could intensify, and maybe they would send reconn. aircraft this morning to investigate a potential TD, On Friday I cancelled sailing lessons which I'd have taught out on the Lake in New Orleans Sat. afternoon on a lightweight boat (non-local students so I had to make the decision in advance).

I'm convinced it was the right call at the time, but nevertheless the actual weather has made an idiot out of me. The system didn't build, and went east of us. Biloxi got drowned, but we got puffy clouds and moderate N wind. Would've been perfect sailing.

"Captain's discretion" can be a pain sometimes, you can be right, and you can be wrong. Ultimately it's "better safe than sorry" for me, and the students. Aaaah, now I feel a little better...
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Old 05-23-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom View Post

"Captain's discretion" can be a pain sometimes, you can be right, and you can be wrong. Ultimately it's "better safe than sorry" for me, and the students. Aaaah, now I feel a little better...
I agree Better safe than sorry is proper Captain's discretion
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Old 05-27-2009
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I don't know your students, nolatom, but I'm gonna take a guess and say that they don't think you're an idiot because you were careful. I personally would be relieved to know my instructor is taking these precautions.
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Old 05-27-2009
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Thanks both for the kind words. I'd rather be wrong when the weather turns good than wrong when it turns bad, so I err on the side of caution.

These are fairly new sailors. I want them to like it and stay with it, not get scared off by foul weather in the first lesson or two. Plenty of time for scary weather later in their sailing careers.
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Old 05-27-2009
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In future you might want to take a look at PassageWeather - Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers wich seems to have very good predictions for the Gulf.
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Old 05-27-2009
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What's the saying?
There are old sailors and bold sailors, but no old bold sailors.

I call them the "Noaa-nothing man" because they noaa nothing about the weather, the wxcast is usually over cautious (as it should be) and if you listen to it you'll lose a lot of great days on the water.

But...If you have to plan ahead, they're still usually as good as it gets, and taking students out into heavy weather can make them unhappier than postponing the day's sailing. Absolutely the right call.
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Old 05-27-2009
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I feel your pain. I tend to pay close attention to the weather forecasts generally and have noticed a trend in the past several years. Our local NBC affiliate (NYC) is damned accurate all winter long, but as soon as the sailing season gets started, they screw up something awful. On the strength of their forecast (and my own stupidity for believing them) I made alternate plans for the Memorial Day weekend since all three days were going to be crappy. You already know the upshot - two days of great sailing weather and one not bad. And I missed all of them.
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Old 05-27-2009
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In the 4 months we have had our boat in Seattle, we have gone out countless times when NOAA sez: 10-15 knots. Just perfect forecast for our comfort level. Of course half those times we never saw 7 knots of wind let alone 10.

But the real funny one is the Washington ferry system. They supposedly show the winds the ferries are recording. Seems all fine and pretty accurate except for the line to Vashon. They always show 10 or more knots of winds than the ferries running a few miles away. So like newbie suckers we head down there and same lame winds as elsewhere. I guess if it were true there would be a hundred sailboats down there all the time. Not!!

michael
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Old 05-27-2009
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Hesper, if you can take a look at the air pressure maps showing the frontal systems, you may see what's going on. Some of the newspapers carry multiple maps, i.e. "yesterday" and "today" and what I've noticed is that for New York, if the fronts are coming from the west (as they often are in winter) then whatever Chicago has on one day, NYC has the next day, like clockwork. And those fronts coming down and across from Canada and the midwest usually ride like they are on rails--very reliably.

On the other hand, whenever they start talking about occluded fronts or masses moging up the east coast, things tend to go uncertain as the fronts stall or there are 3-way conflicts. So, if you can look at WHERE what kind of system is coming from, you can often make a good judsgement about how reliable the forecast is going to be. That won't tell you what the weather will be--just that the forecast is "for sure" or "hedge your bets".

Obviously in other areas of the country, wx comes in in different ways but there will always be systems that are "for sure" and ones that are anything but.
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Old 05-29-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom View Post
"Captain's discretion" can be a pain sometimes, you can be right, and you can be wrong. Ultimately it's "better safe than sorry" for me, and the students. Aaaah, now I feel a little better...
Your post improves my confidence in instructors! As an inexperienced sailor planning to take my first classes I'm worried about everything you can imagine. My mind is a jumble of sailing terms, knots, wind concerns, gear, what to wear, what to bring, how to avoid looking like a moron, etc. I forgot to worry about the weather! Sure sign of a Newbie! I'm very glad someone is paying attention to the weather and I sure hope my instructors do!
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