Only the very foolish go to sea without checking the climate in advance and performing sensibly.
Wind speeds are generally acknowledged as fitting into the bands of the Beaufort Scale a universally known and often used warning. The Beaufort Scale begins at 0 which is calm, then the scale rises numerically through to 6 – strong breeze at which point the Gale Pennant is flown to signify a danger to safety. Beyond 6 and up to 12 the Beaufort Scale indicates increasing risk and 10 through 12 is indicated by Storm Warning Pennants – a purple flag with a black square at the centre, 12 is hurricane/typhoon strength. In short Gale force 6 and above, head for port on the shortest feasible heading.
Charter businesses, fishing and sailing agencies and those operating yacht and boat corporations should understand that any wind speeds of 5 or 6 will put their boats at risk and of course that means the passengers too!
From the boater point of view, a good deal relies upon the knowledge and experience of the skipper, commercial boats and their crews will usually take a pragmatic view of the weather knowing that heavy climate 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, where there is one locally, to to check the degree 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 simply flow out of an inlet to fish or sail a little without the level of knowledge or schooling to know better. Across the arena the seas can go from placid and welcoming, warm enough for one to maybe, and in a totally quick time heavy weather, rain squalls, and crashing waves can arise catching the unwary out. More than some such events have ended up costing lives. Please, remember if you placed your self and your boat at threat someone will have to put their lives at risk to save you.
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