Reply To: Clouds and Navigation

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Clouds and Navigation Reply To: Clouds and Navigation

Susan Shepherd

    I went on a sail training course out of Gibraltar, and one of the techniques we were taught was using the form and direction of clouds to understand the type and likely speed of the winds – crucial for being able to get you where you want to go as quickly as possible. Wind speed and direction is very important in areas like the med where there is little tidal movement, compared to the uk where timing your trips to the tide is crucial. We also looked to the stream of cloud of the top of the Rock to identify the prevailing wind. It was like looking at a flag on dry land.

    Around the UK looking at the type of clouds in the sky will tell you about weather systems passing over. Each front is typified by different cloud formations, as is the gap between fronts. Whilst not navigation in the sense of spotting land, reading the cloud formations can determine your route or even if you sail or look for safety from a coming storm, not sailing at all.

    Prior to the advent of weather forecasting, reading the clouds in the sky was the only way to plan your sailing.