Only the very foolish visit to sea without checking the climate in advance and performing sensibly.
Wind speeds are generally acknowledged as becoming into the bands of the Beaufort Scale a universally known and regularly 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 indicate 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 purple flag with a black square at the centre, 12 is hurricane/typhoon strength. In short Gale pressure 6 and above, head for port on the shortest feasible heading.
Charter businesses, fishing and sailing businesses and those operating yacht and boat businesses should understand that any wind speeds of 5 or 6 will put their boats at chance 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 climate can cause loss of life. Seasoned skippers understand a way to judge the situation and will check with the Coast Guard services or Harbour Master, where there is one locally, to ascertain 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 training to recognize better. Across the arena the seas can cross from placid and welcoming, warm enough for one to maybe, and in a totally quick time heavy weather, rain squalls, and crashing waves can occur catching the unwary out. More than a few such events have ended up costing lives. Please, remember if you put your self and your boat at threat someone will have to put their lives at risk to save you.
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