'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

Let’s Talk About Forecasting…


“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody DOES anything about it!”

Winds 20 gusting 38 – not trifling!
So Mark Twain is claimed to have said. Of course there are lots of things attributed to Mark Twain – and doubtless many famous people – that they never said, but since Twain was known for the pithy one-liner, we’ll let him have that one.

Particularly because it’s true, and will likely stay true – chem-trails and other conspiracies not withstanding. The weather is still out of our control, and seems likely to remain so for my lifetime, at least. 

Yesterday Nicki and I left Breakwater Harbor, off Lewes, Delaware at 8am, and headed out around Cape Henlopen for the open Atlantic and a 35 mile jaunt down the coast to Ocean City, Maryland. The forecast as we departed was for seas of 2-3 feet and winds peaking at around 15 knots before diminishing in the afternoon to 8-10 knots. From there, the forecast also called for a front to move in and pass, bringing rather more wind for the overnight, so we planned to tuck in to Ocean City behind Assateague Island to wait out that bit of weather before continuing south.

But our 8am departure was basically the only part of our day that went completely according to plan. Rather than seas of 2-3 feet, we found 5-6 and occasionally 8 feet, and the wind continued to build slowly throughout the day, gradually being supplemented with rain. We passed through the inlet at Ocean City about an hour after slack water, and we’re very glad it wasn’t any later, as it was still a rough ride. There’s also an unmarked shoal in the inlet, which we only dodged at the last minute. 

And now it’s Thursday, and the 12 hours of expected rough weather has turned into at least 36, as the low pressure system that’s causing it all refuses to move off the coast, and in fact seems to have strengthened as it’s slowed – we’re seeing steady winds of 20 knots, and gusts nearing 40. The anchor is well set, thankfully (we watched our neighbor anchored near by drag about 200 feet toward a set of pilings before they gave up and headed in to try and find a slip at the marina. (Not an option for us, it’s a very shallow marina basin.)
Just a thrill-a-minute, this cruising thing!

Meanwhile we’re getting notes from other cruising friends who are many days ahead of us in this southward migration, and they’re sending lovely sunset pictures and stories of their more pleasant adventures.

We could do with some “more pleasant” any time now, you know?

So that’s the state of weather forecasting – which was the whole point of this post, you may recall. Only a forecaster can go to work day after day, get it right less than 50% of the time, and still be considered to be performing adequately. 

I’m not bitter about that – just saying it’s a funny world.

Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, and rehabilitating an old house. we’re headed back on the boat, bringing Sionna back home to northern waters. Follow our blog here!

3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Forecasting…

  1. Consider alternatives like reading bird’s entrails or prayer, the 50% weather forecasts aren’t such a bad thing. You also shouldn’t forger, that meteorologists get it mostly right when the weather patterns are stable, but that’s also the time you need them least. Only when the weather is changing, you want to know what’s going to happen.


    • Him… Maybe. But I can do better than 50% myself when the patterns are reasonably stable. 🙂
      My whining comes about because of what’s at stake – our lives and home. In a shore home, incliment weather is seldom more than an inconvenience, but on the water it’s your life.
      Not that there aren’t excellent forecasters out there – but you won’t find them on the evening news. Chris Parker is one.


  2. Great picture of Nicki at the helm! All of these days of crazy weather will make you appreciate the sweeter ones down south even more 🙂


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