I think many of us, like myself, built our first sailboat without really knowing how to sail. Sure, we got the basics down pretty quick but I quickly realized some trips were less fun than others because of planning errors. There's only so much you can do in a sailing dingy after you launch to go faster. Strategy, not tactics separates an outstanding day from a boring or frustrating one. It took me two years of frustration to learn this and what to do about it. Oh how I wished I could have learned it from a magazine or book.
Let me give you some examples.
Weather: Learning to read the weather forecast to decide if this is even a good day to go out. Learning which websites and forecasters can be trusted and which ones error on the conservative side. Wind direction is also critical. In my situation an off shore wind from the Gulf results in waves that are simply too big for my boat. The day before or after a storm or even distant weather all plays a role. Knowing what weather forecast results in what weather at a specific location all takes experience and knowledge.
Terrain: Here in Kodiak it's ALL about terrain. Terrain generates, funnels, changes direction and intensity of wind. Mountains, valleys and islands create there own weather. And I'm not just talking about your back yard. A mountain valley 100 miles away can have a great influence on your location. Bluffs can create swirling wind areas that should be avoided. Wind can easily be 90 degrees off or twice as strong only a couple miles away. I created my own wind map of my area that I consult after reading the forecast. This has helped me pick a trip plan.
Current: A boat that only sails at 3-4 knots is easily influenced by tide and current. Like the wind, it's defined by the underwater terrain and bodies of water hundreds of miles away. We have currents here that exceed my best sailing speed. I have not yet figured out how to map these but I'm learning them from experience.
I've always enjoyed your magazine and I'm sure there are many articles or books I have missed but I can't recall ever reading much about these or similar topics. And of course I am interested in the more classic sailing articles like how to ink more performance from your sail, how to reef in a storm, different traditional rigs, or how to recover from a capsize.
Thank you for your time,