Wit this regard, in its latest issue of The Navigator, The Nautical Institute provides ten top tips for mariners about observing and coping with weather at sea:

  1. Keep a weather eye: Always be aware of the current weather, any changes and the best forecast. Lives may depend on it.
  2. By all available means: Use all your senses to monitor the weather – sight, touch, smell– as well as the barometer, coastal and port reports and weather prediction services.
  3. It’s behind you!: Always watch what’s happening behind and all around you. If you are running before the wind and seas all might seem well, but if you need to change the direction of the ship, things could look very different. You must be prepared at all times.
  4. Safety and efficiency: Being aware of the weather and acting accordingly is important for both safety and efficiency.
  5. Beware of change: If you sense a change in the weather, alert others. If you are in port, your moorings may be at risk, while at sea, extra securing may be needed.
  6. Predictive planning: Every port stay or passage plan should include an element of weather prediction. Always have contingency plans for known and unknown weather patterns.
  7. Keep records: It is important to keep weather recordings both to identify change and patterns and to ensure commercial accountability.
  8. New tools, traditional observations: Modern technology provides unprecedented opportunities for predicting weather – but always test these predictions against your observations.
  9. Share and share alike: Predicting the weather can be subjective, so share your observations and predictions with your fellow navigators. Learn from each other and take up the opportunity to mentor.
  10. Take pride: Take pride in your ability to read the environment and predict the weather. It is a proud tradition of mariners and can save the day or even someone’s life.


Do you remember?

It has been only two months since the cruise ship 'Viking Sky' suffered engine failure due to heavy weather and remained drifted in rough waters in the Norwegian Sea to within 100 meters of land. Waves were reportedly 6 to 8 meters high.

Weather conditions were so extreme that no lifeboats could be launched. As such, search and rescue forces airlifted a total of 479 people, one-by-one on to helicopters, before the weather improved the next day and towing could begin.

'Viking Sky' eventually arrived at the port of Molde on Norway’s west coast with some injuries and no fatalities.

Being able to predict weather from sight, feel and smell is a special talent for professional navigators and one that can be honed throughout a long career at sea. It is not only a great source of pride but may someday save the lives of you and your shipmates. The sophistication of new weather services that use satellites, sensors and computers offers unprecedented commercial advantages when used correctly and tested against good, traditional skills,

...says David Patraiko FNI, Director of Projects, The Nautical Institute.


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