Experienced mariners know that over-land and over-ocean are two very different forecasts. Photo by Barbara Thomson

BOATING WITH BARB: Weather on the water

BOATING WITH BARB: Weather on the water

Barbara Thomson

Special to The Record

Imagine this scenario: you are face-down at the ocean edge, saltwater in your mouth and eyes.

Slowly, things come into focus: the boat, a floundered wreck on a tropical three-hour tour.

Then, you survey your fellow passengers: a professor, an actress, the posh married couple, a country girl in gingham, the skipper and his first mate. At first, you are just glad not to be alone. Then, as the countless episodes for rescue off the island are foiled, as the very mercies of sea saints are outwitted by the dimwitted first mate, you come to know two immutable facts. First: you should have checked the weather before leaving the dock. Second: Gilligan must go.

Nothing on the water is more important than the weather. Weather is to water like tires are to trucks: it all relates to the ride. While safe boating does not require a degree in meteorology, neither does a glance up at the sky and yesterday’s land forecast tell you what you need to know. Experienced mariners know that over-land and over-ocean are two very different forecasts, yet still knowing, the unpredictable can happen. And weather has the greatest impact on the smallest crafts: cartopper boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. If the weather looks uncertain, the motto is “when in doubt … don’t.”

We live in a new media age: marine weather Apps like Windy, or Predict Wind are free and easy to install, and the Environment Canada website (www.weather.gc.ca) explains the scales and terms used to define the intensity of weather systems. VHF radio has dedicated weather channels, broadcasting 24 hours a day, and the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron (capelazoeducation@gmail.com) offers periodic West Coast Weather seminars. Two books, The Wind Came All Ways and Living With Weather Along the British Columbia Coast by Owen S. Lange offer a more in-depth home study. Speaking at the 2020 Vancouver Boat Show, Alyssa Charbonneau, a meteorologist at the Pacific Storm Prediction Centre, provided a toll-free number (1-844-505-2525) for more specific, rather than generalized area forecasts. Finally, in whatever format you chose, a marine weather check can make your stay on an uncharted island less likely.

Guide to Marine Weather Forecasts: https://bit.ly/2Q06vDS

Weather Radio Canada, British Columbia: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/weatheradio/findyournetwork/british-columbia.html

Boating

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