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Local Knowledge

The more you mess around boats, the more stories you will hear. Every boater has a tale to share and it usually has something to do with the weather. Weather is a fascinating topic and an important one too, to maintain safety on the water.

Weather forecasters will tell you that the weather is becoming more and more difficult to predict. Storms are more intense and last longer. Some attribute this to climate change and they might be right. All I know, is that I have had a sleepless night due to another 45-50 knot storm in our marina, so it is fitting to be up writing about the weather as the boat lurches in her slip.

There are some recognizable patterns to the weather in spite of its unpredictability.  Environment Canada produces a terrific reference guide called, “West Coast: Marine Weather Hazards Manual“. For example, this handy manual explains the Qualicum Winds in the Strait of Georgia which catch many boaters by surprise as they increase from 15 to 40 knots in a matter of minutes. Common hazards are identified including areas where strong tidal currents occur which can be treacherous when opposing the wind. Boaters planning to transit the waters off British Columbia will want to have this book in their boating library.

Another suggestion is to be aware of where the weather reporting stations are located. You will hear the names of the weather stations when you listen to the weather channel on the VHF radio. We got caught in some nasty conditions once after listening to the Merry Island weather report. The winds were forecasted for 5 – 10 knots from the north. As we bashed our way north pounding into the building seas and Merry Island passed our starboard side, we understood why. The Merry Island station was on the southern end of the island and was fairly protected from the northerly wind. At the northern end of the island we found 25 knots of wind.

Increasing your knowledge about weather will help you make informed decisions when you are on the water. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to attend to our fruit basket which just broke from too much crazy swinging in this win


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