||Every aspect of the weather — sun, rain, wind, tides, fog — affects your sailing. Before you even start out, you need to decide whether you want to sail that day or if lack of wind or too much of it might interfere with your fun. Always sail in conditions that you're comfortable with, and be alert for any change in those conditions.
Local weather forecasts on TV and in the newspapers will give you a general overview of what the weather will be. If you have a VHF-FM radio (162.40 162.55 MHz) or a "weather cube," you can get 24-hour marine weather forecasts from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) as well as from the National Weather Service. They are the most reliable for sailing conditions, including forecasts of wave heights, tides, fog, thunderstorms, lightning, and so on.
The more sailing experience you have, the more weather variables you can handle. Here are some conditions a novice should avoid:
- Winds over 12 knots can be difficult, especially if you're sailing a small boat.
- Getting caught in the fog. Fog is a problem even for experienced sailors. If you see fog rolling in, head for home; if fog is forecast, don't go sailing.
- Thunderstorms often occur in the summer and often bring heavy winds. Keep an eye on the clouds; if they are becoming large and dark (cumulonimbus), get to port quickly before the before it starts pouring.