The Weather Wise
And The Otherwise
Keeping an eye to the sky will prevent a good day
on the water from becoming a bad one
enjamin Franklin, a constitutional framer and endearing Francophile, understood
good wine and bad weather. He coined the phrase “the weather wise and the
otherwise” and more than 200 years later, modern boaters can still be grouped
under the same slogan. Those who join the ranks of the weather wise discover that
there’s a big advantage in knowing what lies ahead, learning how to decide when
it’s time to head out of the harbor, or out to sea, or when it’s time to sit tight.
Meteorology may be a complex atmospheric science, but it doesn’t take any differential
calculus to make sense of a marine weather forecast. All it takes to get started is an under-
standing of a few general concepts regarding highs, lows, and frontal boundaries.
Once those few basic principles are in place, you’ll be ready to leverage forecast
data and add extra fun and safety to your boating experience.
One of the best ways to cultivate weather awareness is by merging the informa-
tion from a VHF weather broadcast with direct observation of what’s happening
in the atmosphere that surrounds you. This “look, listen, and learn” approach
field-tests a forecast and gives you a chance to preview the weather changes
waiting in the wings. The process will give you more confidence when it comes
to discerning the likelihood of thunderstorm development on a hot, humid sum-
mer afternoon, or how a veering breeze (shifting clockwise) can announce the
approach of a fast-moving cold front. Making the review
of a VHF weather broadcast, and a careful 360-degree scan
of the horizon, pre-departure prerequisites, can pay short- and
long-term dividends. It gives a crew a clear picture of what lies
ahead and how they should shape their boating plans.
are left behind
as a cold front
1. A squall line consists of dozens of
unique cells of cumulonimbus clouds.
2. The lumpy texture shown here, called
cumulonimbus mammatus, usually is
associated with a severe storm.
3. High-altitude cirrus clouds like these
in the western sky indicate oncoming
bad weather. The sundog, a second-
ary image of sun, is reflected light
coming through the tiny ice crys-
tals that make up the cirrus cloud.
4. Warm air meets cold water (or land)
to make fog, which in this case is sliding
down the mountain towards the harbor,
which could mean a tricky approach for
PHOTO BILLY BLACK; INSET PHOTOS RALPH NARANJO