Plain Sailing

How to get weather forecasts when you're sailing

Every good sailor knows that they should check the weather forecast before they set sail, but you need to know where to look! Here’s our guide to finding weather forecasts in the Med.

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It’s important to check the weather conditions before you set sail, as the weather can quickly turn, and the ‘sunny’ day you envisaged can turn into a storm in a matter of hours! There’s so many ways to find out the weather, that there really is no excuse for not knowing the weather – here’s our favourite places to check out the weather (oldest methods first!):

Check out the information at the marina

Marina officeIf you’re in a marina, then getting a weather forecast is easy: most marinas have notice-boards with print-outs of the latest weather forecasts (which, sometimes, you can even take a copy away back to your boat).

If there’s no notice board, then ask at the marina reception and they will be happy to check on the latest weather forecasts for you (and they usually know the best and most accurate local websites to check).

Ask a friend

If you’re not in a marina, you might not be alone – usually there are other sailors kicking around. Being in close proximity to so many other sailors also has advantages: ask other people where they’re planning to sail to, then ask if they know the expected weather for the day…

The alternative is to text someone at home to give you an update of the latest weather conditions.

Pick up the weather on VHF Radio broadcasts

VHF RadioEven though everyone and everything is connected to the internet these days, there’s still some old school practices which continue, just in case. One example is weather announcements over the VHF radio – every country’s maritime authorities still broadcast the latest weather conditions over VHF on a regular basis.

In Italy, there is a continuous weather broadcast, whereas in Croatia and Greece then updates are every two, four or six hours, depending upon where you are.

VHF forecasts are ok, but they aren’t great: firstly, it’s not easy to work out what channel they are on, or when they’re taking place, and though broadcasts are usually in English as well as the local language, because they are covering the whole country then the forecasts are usually very brief for each area, and cover a maximum of 24 hours in advance – so whilst they’re good for working out where to sail today, they’re not much use for longer-term planning.

Online weather forecasts

Weather on your mobileIf you’re within a few nautical miles of the coast, then probably the easiest way of getting weather information is online, using data-roaming on your own mobile phone or tablet (if you’ve splashed out on on-board wifi, then you can even be further out at sea).

The main sites we head to to check out the forecasts are www.windguru.cz and www.SailFlow.com – both offer incredibly detailed forecasts from thousands of weather stations across the world. You can see maps with live wind flows, as well as 7 to 14 day forecasts to really help you plan for the week ahead.

If you want to be fully prepared, then you can download the SailFlow App to your smartphone, or WindGuru App to your Android device, which gives you more information than you could ever possibly need in the palm of your hand!