Wind Shifts, in short.

Wind Shifts, in short.

Michigan or Caribbean?

Whether you are peering out to get a read on the water,


Gazing upon the evening light (above) giving contrast where denser and darker water distinguishes breeze;

or waiting for breeze to fill in (below) where no ripples on the water, means no wind,


One thing is for certain.  Wind shifts.  It comes (and goes) in patterns.  Wind can be steady or as unstable and shifty as one can gather patience for, while afloat.

A couple weeks ago I started to discuss “Persistent wind shifts” as an analogy (to make a point regarding daily distraction on Facebook).  In doing so it struck me that I wanted to rewind a bit on on the scales of frequency and relevance, specifically, oscillating breeze happens more than most other conditions.  Hopefully the following is something just about everyone can put into “play,” at least some day.

Wind can be as complicated or simple as one can imagine as there’s a much deeper art and science to it.  In this discussion, I would like to give the basics for what is I would consider the most frequent situation, I encounter, sailing near a shoreline.  Wind that travels over land is generally “more variable” than wind coming e.g. off the ocean.   Wind moving over land, thru trees, buildings and different temperature surfaces like a parking lot, tends to oscillate and change in strength.  Most often wind can be seen by recognizing contrast of ripples caused by wind differences of velocity (speed and direction).

There are (3) three steps to understanding and advantageously navigating through oscillating wind.

  1. See the breeze.  Simple and recognizable if you know and “take pause” to look, upwind.
  2. Sail to the breeze.  If you are on i.e. starboard tack and you see wind ahead, keep sailing.  If the wind is to your right appearing to be moving but not getting darker upwind of your course, tack, and ” sail to the breeze.”
  3. Get on the favored tack, meaning port or starboard, which ever sails the most direct angle to the next mark.

That’ll do for today, but I promise more to come.  Looking forward to warmer weather and longer days, right around the corner, sail fast, in darker water!


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