Cruisers College April Seminars

Intensive 3-Day Marine Weather Course

with Lee Chesneau

Monday thru Wednesday, April 3-5, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $295

Register here.

This course will integrate interactive lecture and hands-on exercises over an intensive 3-day period. It will begin with the 101 building blocks of weather basics (necessary because of the nature of physical science that is 100 percent knowledge based), then moving onto the various core marine oriented weather products from graphics, alpha-numeric text, to voice broadcasts.

There is the need to view different scales of weather from global to local, where in between is the more dominate synoptic scale (e.g.,the north Pacific Ocean whether regional or full ocean, where the time frame extends from days or weeks) and its influences on more local marine weather conditions of the Pacific NW (Salish Sea) including the coastal waters ranging from SE Alaska through the US West coast including Vancouver Island where the time frame extends from a few hours to a day.

Another way of summarizing, the synoptic scale weather that include weather systems such as low and high pressure, and their features such as fronts, troughs, and ridges that span from two days to more than a weeks will dictate weather conditions (clouds, propitiation, fog, and wind) from what one sees from a boat’s wheelhouse that last from hours or a day, that can be repeated over and over again.

Whether one is a novice, experienced boater, or racer who sails or cruises the inland waters (Salish Sea), the Pacific Northwest coast (BC, WA, OR, CA), as well as further offshore into the high seas waters of the North Pacific Ocean (this can apply to any other ocean, including the southern ocean), there is only one way to strategize the marine environment: understand it.

After an introduction & overview of the three-day course, specific topics will cover:

  1. A discussion of some important definitions; weather (WX), climate, and the atmosphere.
  2. A brief review of the different layers of the atmosphere, focusing on the layer where most weather occurs.
  3. A discussion of the role of the sun and radiation in generating the land and sea temperature difference, the primary cause of both sea and land breezes, both from large global scale to local or microscale.
  4. A discussion of moisture in the atmosphere and its unique role in cloud formation and other visibility restricting conditions such as fog or precipitation.
  5. An overview of the importance of atmospheric stability and its significance to clouds and overall weather conditions.
  6. The different cloud groups and types, and what they mean to a mariner.
  7. A discussion of basic concepts of pressure and wind, and how they work to develop and deliver common low and high-pressure systems at sea-level (surface pressure).
  8. We then will look at scales of WX systems from global, synoptic, meso to microscale, and how the cruising sailor needs to understand and prioritize them.
  9. A discussion of air masses and how do they relate to synoptic scale WX systems, especially the depiction of associated features on the surface at sea-level WX charts (e.g. the various surface fronts to be discussed subsequently).
  10. Significant time will be spent discussing synoptic scale WX systems, specifically the dominant middle latitude (30N/S-60N/S) migratory low and high-pressure systems and their associated features from cold, warm, occluded, and stationary fronts, to troughs and ridges, shear lines, and cols.
  11. The wind and swell waves (sea state conditions) definitions and concepts
  12. Discussion of the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) wind and wave analyses and forecast products and how to integrate them with their companion NWS surface pressure analyses and forecasts charts.
  13. Factoring geographic and local weather effects from surface pressure, wind and wave products.
  14. A discussion of local marine weather of the Pacific Northwest (Salish Sea), especially noting the gap winds that enhance wind speed conditions between them. There will be an overview of marine weather forecast services from the Vancouver Weather Service Office of Environment Canada and the U.S. NWS Forecast Office (NWSFO) in Seattle.
  15. Overview of international marine forecast charts, necessary to integrate with cruising to other ocean areas not covered by the NWS.
  16. Concepts of upper air charts, focusing on 500 Mb.
  17. Concepts of weather routing as it relates to 500 Mb charts.
  18. A detailed discussion of the climatology based pilot charts and how to interpret them for potential long range voyage planning.
  19. Overview of the hierarchy of marine weather analysis, forecasting and vessel routing decision making.

Hands On Exercises:

  • From the Bowditch Tables, determine dew point temperature from wet bul temperature exercise and determining relative humidity exercise.
  • Determine true wind from geostrophic wind exercise.
  • Identifying air masses on synoptic surface pressure charts;
  • Determine the correct valid date and time of the principle synoptic scale surface pressure low and high-pressure systems and the specific identification of synoptic scale systems’ features exercise.
  • Identifying the various symbols on the charts, and the specific weather conditions they will produce.
  • Utilizing the Bowditch Wind, Wave, Period and Fetch Tables, determine likely significant wave heights, period, time, and required fetch necessary for these conditions.
  • Identifying 500 mb flow patterns.
  • How to route a vessel via 500 mb flow patterns.
  • Long- range planning route for the North and South Pacific Oceans utilizing pilot charts.
  • After reviewing the validity of the most current forecasts, the follow-up to this will be a voyage exercises for the North Pacific Oceans (including portions of the South Pacific) from Anacortes to Cape Flattery to San Francisco to Hawaii onto Fiji and American Samoa.

Register here.


All seminars are held at the NW Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing & Technology in Anacortes.

Address: 1606 R Ave. Anacortes, WA 98221

Take the R Avenue exit off of Highway 20. Proceed North for about 1 mile. The MTC will be on your right noted by the stainless steel sculpture of two joggers (across from The Market grocery store). Make the next right on Seafarers Way, then the next right into the parking lot for the MTC. There are restaurants and motels nearby.

northwest-center-of-excellence-for-marine-manufacturing-technology

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