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Understanding the Wind (Weather Series 1 of 4)

Weather Series: Working with the Wind
Gain a firm grasp of the invisible but powerful force of the wind! In this series of seminars you will first learn the basic forces that cause the wind and then see how the influences of land and water create their own special types of wind. Then it’s time to think about winds aloft, when they descend to the surface, and how they affect our course, speed, and even sea state. Along the way you will learn where to find wind data and use it to set a course and sail plan or select the perfect anchorage. Your sailing performance and cruising efficiency will grow as you learn to anticipate the ever changing wind.

OCT 8 Understanding the Wind
A boat’s course and speed, lee shores, and secure anchorages are all determined by the wind. This introduction to the nature of wind, from global circulation to local patterns, will help you factor the weather into your boating plans. Learn to read a weather chart as we examine the basic forces that cause the wind. True to apparent wind conversions are demonstrated and applied to wind forecasts to determine point of sail and an appropriate sail plan.

OCT 15 Coastal Winds: Sea Breezes, Corner Effect, Dirty Air and More!
Land affects the wind over coastal and inland waters in predictable ways. Use a few basic weather principles to understand how local terrain will modify the general area forecast. High resolution weather forecasts will be used to develop an initial forecast along a selected course. Localized land effects will be systematically evaluated along the route to further refine forecasted wind direction and speed.

OCT 22 Clouds: A Sailor’s Telltales in the Sky
Clouds tell us a lot about the weather to expect very soon and over the next few days. Will winds be strong or light and from what points of the compass? Will the wind be steady or gusty? Learn the basic cloud types and the weather they foretell; how to judge cloud movement, growth; and to anticipate changes in the wind. Evaluate weather data for cloud types, what they tell us about the wind, and how it will change.

OCT 29 Gusts and Lulls: Helm and Trim Response
The wind is ever changing, sometimes chaotically and sometimes in more predictable ways. The atmosphere holds clues as to the strength of a gust, what direction it will come from, or if there will be any gusts at all. Fore knowledge of gusts lets us optimize boat speed and course while avoiding dangerous jibes and knock-downs. The changing wind direction and speed in gusts and lulls is evaluated for effect on apparent wind, sail trim, and helm response.

About the Instructor
Dave Wilkinson, holds a MS in Atmospheric Science from Oregon State University, is member of the American Meteorological Society and the American Sailing Association where he is a certified marine weather instructor. Dave teaches marine weather at the Northwest Maritime Center, for the Washington Sea Grant Program, and sailing schools in Seattle and Portland. His sailing experiences in Mexico, the Caribbean, and New Zealand, as well as the Pacific Northwest, provide realistic context for describing key weather concepts.

Presentations are organized and presented to help sailors build a fundamental understanding of the weather and its effects on the ocean. The focus is on the practical application of weather to build the knowledge and confidence to sail anywhere in the world and to make the boating experience safer and more rewarding.

Sign up for one class or the entire series!


Oct 08 2018


6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Non-member: $150/entire series or $50/class | Member: $130/entire series or $45/class

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Northwest Maritime Center


Northwest Maritime Center
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The mission of the Northwest Maritime Center is to engage and educate people of all generations in traditional and contemporary maritime life, in a spirit of adventure and discovery.

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