Only the very foolish visit to sea without checking the weather beforehand and performing sensibly.
Wind speeds are commonly mentioned as fitting into the bands of the Beaufort Scale a universally known and regularly used warning. The Beaufort Scale begins at zero which is calm, then the scale rises numerically via to 6 – strong breeze at which factor the Gale Pennant is flown to signify a danger to safety. Beyond 6 and up to 12 the Beaufort Scale shows increasing hazard and 10 through 12 is indicated by Storm Warning Pennants – a red flag with a black square at the centre, 12 is hurricane/typhoon strength. In quick Gale force 6 and above, head for port on the shortest possible heading.
Charter organizations, fishing and sailing agencies and those operating yacht and boat corporations should understand that any wind speeds of 5 or 6 will placed their boats at risk and of course that means the passengers too!
From the boater point of view, a good deal depends on the knowledge and experience of the skipper, commercial boats and their crews will usually take a pragmatic view of the weather understanding that heavy weather can cause loss of life. Seasoned skippers will know how to judge the situation and will check with the Coast Guard services or Harbour Master, there may be one locally, to to check the diploma of threat and any ban on sailing. And, look out for Gale Pennants they’re no longer for decoration!
However, not every sailor is so experienced and there are many who just drift out of an inlet to fish or sail a little without the level of knowledge or schooling to know better. Across the world the seas can cross from placid and welcoming, warm enough for one to maybe, and in a very short time heavy weather, rain squalls, and crashing waves can arise catching the unwary out. More than a few such occasions have ended up costing lives. Please, don’t forget if you put your self and your boat at risk someone will have to put their lives at risk to save you.
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