Select Page

Weather charts, also known as surface pressure or synoptic charts, contain a lot of information that helps weather forecasters make predictions about the weather and sea conditions.

038_Met 5

Before going to sea it is always a good idea to study weather charts and work out how the weather is likely to evolve in the area you plan to sail in. This sequence of four synoptic charts predicts the weather over a 36 hour period.

038_Met 4

Isobars on a weather chart

The circular lines are isobars, similar to contour lines on a land map, and join areas of equal barometric pressure.  Air moves from high to low pressure and when the difference in the pressure is greater, the airflow or wind will also be greater.  Isobars that are close together indicate stronger winds. Isobars that are further apart indicate lighter winds. The wind scale inset in the top left of the chart helps you to forecast wind speed.

038_Met 3

Wind direction

In terms of the wind direction, in the northern hemisphere air moves around high pressure in a clockwise direction and low pressure in an anticlockwise direction, so isobars on a weather map indicate the direction and speed of the wind as well as the pressure.

038_Met 2

Fronts

The lines with triangles and semi-circles represent fronts. Warm fronts on a weather map are shown with semi-circles and cold fronts with triangles. The way in which the semi-circles and triangles point shows the direction in which the front is moving.

Occluded fronts and troughs

Where a cold front and warm front meet an occluded front is created, shown by lines with overlapping semi-circles and triangles.  Black lines with no semi-circles or triangles are troughs and show areas where the air is unstable and showers tend to form.

It is a good idea to print out the latest weather charts for your area before you set sail and refer to them on your trip.

Man Overboard Drill

How to respond to crew overboard under sail • Keep the MOB in sight • Tack into the heave-to position, do not adjust the...

Essential Knots: Reef knot

Essential Knots: Reef knotUse: Tying two ends of rope together, often used for tying up a bundle of loose sail around the boom.Step...

Know your Navlights & Shapes – essential for all skippers

Know your Navlights & Shapes International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (ColRegs) Anyone who is...

Essential Knots: Sheet bend

Essential Knots: Sheet bendUse: Joining two ropes together. A sheet bend is particularly useful for joining two ropes of different...

Boat ownership

Owning a boat is a big commitment that should bring no end of satisfaction for the owner as well as the owner's family and friends. In...

The VHF DSC Radio jargon buster

AIS - Automatic Identification System This system is used by shipping. It allows another vessel or coast station to use...

Weather forecasting tips

Most weather forecasts present a general picture of what to expect in your area over a given period of time. We rely on such...

Passage Planning Advice & Safety for skippers

Passage planning helps you to: • Decide where to go • Calculate how long it will take to get there • Avoid bad weather •...

Top Ten Tips For Learning The ColRegs Boating Rules Of The Road

Colregs Boating Rules Of The Road Skippers struggle to learn and remember the ColRegs Yachtmaster and Day Skipper course...

Feeling anxious at sea

  Some people feel anxious at sea. Will they be seasick? What if they get caught in a violent storm? Could the boat...

Essential Yachting + Power Boat Safety Briefing

Yachting Safety Briefing   Down below Lifejackets and harnesses - fitting, when to wear, clipping on Gas - risks,...

Fire safety advice at sea from the Marine & Coastguard Agency

Fire safety advice for boaters Top fire safety advice at sea: 1. Fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and gas detectors 2. Turn...

Capsize – understanding the risks

A skipper should know how their boat will cope with rough seas. By working within known limits and understanding the risks,...

Boating emergency – how to broadcast a MAYDAY emergency call

How to broadcast a MAYDAY emergency call   How to broadcast a MAYDAY emergency call if a vessel or person is in grave...

Light characteristics – how do navigators identify lights at night?

How do navigators identify the different types of light around our coasts at night and what are their characteristics?...

Boat Handling – anchoring

Anchoring your yacht or motorboat Anchoring is one of the most important boat handling skills. If you can set an anchor...

Learn ColRegs: Traffic Separation Schemes

Learn ColRegs Rule 10: Traffic Separation Schemes. (c) A vessel shall, so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes...

ColRegs – avoiding collisions at sea

ColRegs - avoiding collisions at sea ColRegs Rule 8: Action to avoid collision (a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall...

ColRegs when sailing single handed

  Don’t neglect the Colregs when sailing single handed Sailing single-handed represents several challenges for...

Always have an emergency grab bag to hand when at sea…

  Grab bag: In the event of having to abandon ship, it is recommended to have a designated waterproof bag to carry...

Seasickness – how can you prevent it?

Seasickness is a common problem at sea and affects both seasoned sailors and novices. What are the causes and symptoms of seasickness?...

Essential yacht tender safety for skippers and crew

Essential yacht tender safety - the dangers inherent in using a dinghy to get ashore from a moored or anchored yacht are all...

First Aid Afloat – fish spine injury

First Aid Afloat - Here is what to do if somebody stands on a fish spine: • Check for dangers. Is it safe for you to enter...

Essential Boat Spares for Safety

  Boats Spares Tool kit What you carry in the boats tool kit will be useful for many boat repairs, but you might want...

Winch Servicing

It is not essential to service the winches when a boat is ashore, but if time allows I prefer to do this maintenance job when the boat...