Sailor's guide on how to predict weather and deal with it!

Weather class !

...a engineer's guide to meteorology !

Authored by: Various

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Predicting Weather


Unusual twinkling of stars: double horns to the moon:, halos around stars or moon: "wind dogs - increasing wind, or rain with a liability of wind

Wind shifting from west to east - increase of wind front the other direction

Rosy sky at sunset - fine weather

Sickly, greenish - colored sunset - Wind and rain

Dark red or crimson sunset - rain

Bright-yellow sky at sunset - wind

Pale-yellow, or saffron sunset - rain

Mixed red and yellow sunset - rain and squally weather

Remarkably clear atmosphere with distant objects standing above the water and seemingly in air - wind, usually from the northwest, and often rain

Heavy dews - Erie weather

Fogs - change in weather and little wind

Misty clouds on hills, remaining stationary, increasing or descending - rain and wind

Misty clouds on hills, rising or dispersing - fairer weather

Red morning sky - bad weather and wind

Gray morning sky - fine weather

High dawn (dawn seen above a bank of clouds) - wind

Low dawn (daylight breaking close to the horizon) - fair

Soft, delicate clouds - fair and light winds

Hard - edged, oily clouds-wind

Dark, gloomy sky - windy

Light, bright sky - fine weather

Small, inky clouds - rain

Light "scud,"' or small clouds moving across heavier clouds - Wind and rain

Light, scudding clouds by themselves - wind and dry weather

High, tipper clouds scudding past moon or stars in a different direction from the lower cloud masses - change of wind

Fine weather followed by light streaks, wisps, or mottled patches of distant clouds that increase and join - change

Haze that becomes murky and clouds the sky - change to bad weather

Light, delicate colors, with soft edged clouds - fine weather

Brilliant, or gaudy, colors and sharp, hard-edged clouds - rain and wind

Mackerel sky (small, separate, white clouds covering the sky) - wet weather

"Mares' tails" (long, wispy, curved, isolated clouds against a blue sky) - wind

Rainbow early in the morning - bad weather

Rainbow in afternoon - fair

Some Terms to Know

Ash Breeze - oar power

Black squall - a sudden strong wind that comes, with a dark line on the surface

Blowing up and down - a dead calm

Cape Horn fever - the feigned illness of a malingerer

Capful - a heavy wind off the sea froth

Dogs running before their master - the heavy swell in advance of the hurricane

Gasoline breeze - same as above, for those who prefer motoring over rowing

rish hurricane - a flat calm

Livina gale - a severe storm

Blowing up and down - a dead calm

Soldier's breeze - a fair, light wind

White squall - a sudden wind so strong that it turns the surface of the sea to white



DECEMBER 19, 1956

So it came on to lunch. Fred was eating an oily-looking sausage bomb and going on and on about how the shellfish warden was a dimestore nutcase and if brains were dynamite he wouldn't have enough to blow his nose and "Hell's hairy bells, that guy's so stupid he.... hey! anyone got a drink?" Larry dug around under the floorboards and came up with a can of beer. Fred said thanks, popped the top, took a pull, belched, bit off another piece of the bomb, took another pull, and went back to deconstructing the warden. And that's when we were bit by a set of the nastiest cresting waves you're ever going to see. The skiff nearly rolled over. Fred turned sort of grayish-green. Suddenly he said, I feel funny," stumbled to the rail, and-how should we say?--proceeded to chum for the whales.

-E.H. Morgan


Before getting underway and while at sea: avoid heavy meals, particularly fried food, and alcohol.

Remain on deck in the fresh air.

Keep your eyes on the horizon.

Position yourself amidships, where motion is least.

Anticipate the vessel's motion.

Keep warm on cold days and cool on hot days.

Don't smoke, get upwind from those who do.



Read a book, especially one with fine print.

Remain below decks.

Use binoculars for extended periods.

Have a sausage bomb for lunch...

... with a beer chaser.

-Fred Brooks


If there is no wind, row.
 - old saying





Wind Description

Sea Condition

Wave Height

Wave Height









0 - 1

0 - 1


Sea like a mirror




1 - 3

1 - 3

Light air

Ripples with the appearance of scales are formed, but without foam crests.




4 - 7

4 - 6

Light Breeze

Small wavelets, still short, but more pronounced. Crests have a glassy appearance and do not break.

0.2 - 0.3

0.5 - 1


8 - 12


Gentle Breeze

Large wavelets. Crests begin to break. Foam of glassy appearance. Perhaps scattered white horses.

0.6 - 1

2 - 3


13 - 18

11 - 16

Moderate Breeze

Small waves, becoming larger; fairly frequent white horses.

1 - 1.5

3.5 - 5


19 - 24

17 - 21

Fresh Breeze

Moderate waves, taking a more pronounced long form; many white horses are formed. Chance of some spray.

2 - 2.5

6 - 8.5


25 - 31

22 - 27

Strong Breeze

Large waves begin to form; the white foam crests are more extensive everywhere. Probably some spray.

3 - 4

9.5 - 13


32 - 38

28 - 33

Near Gale

Sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along the direction of the wind.

4 - 5.5

13.5 - 19


39 - 46

34 - 40


Moderately high waves of greater length; edges of crests begin to break into spindrift. The foam is blown in well-marked streaks along the direction of the wind.

5.5 - 7.5

18 - 25


47 - 54

41 - 47

Severe Gale

High waves. Dense streaks of foam along the direction of the wind. Crests of waves begin to topple, tumble and roll over. Spray may affect visibility.

7 - 10

23 - 32


55 - 63

48 - 55


Very high waves with long over-hanging crests. The resulting foam, in great patches, is blown in dense white streaks along the direction of the wind. On the whole the surface of the sea takes on a white appearance. The 'tumbling' of the sea becomes heavy and shock-like. Visibility affected.

9 - 12.5

29 - 41


64 - 72

56 - 63

Violent Storm

Exceptionally high waves (small and medium-size ships might be for a time lost to view behind the waves). The sea is completely covered with long white patches of foam lying along the direction of the wind. Everywhere the edges of the wave crests are blown into froth. Visibility affected.

11.5 - 16

37 - 52


73 - 83

64 - 71


The air is filled with foam and spray. Sea completely white with driving spray; visibility very seriously affected.

14 - (-)

45 - (-)

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