We have once again been giving some thought into the whole weather-prediction thing, partially inspired by discussions in our last Seamanship class. On short coastal passages, of which we will, at least for the time being, be limiting ourselves to, it seems that one can pretty much pick a good “weather window” to avoid most nasty things. The exception to this seems to be squalls which can sneak up on you at any point in a passage, and from what I read, sometimes quite quickly.
Because squalls can sometimes happen at night I have read of people who preemptively reef their main sail at dark, accepting that they will lose a bit of speed to save the trouble of trying to reef in the dark if a squall should strike them.
If there is any good news in all of this it’s that squalls of the type that I am describing typically don’t last very long. After 10-20 minutes of chaos they can pretty much be gone so it seems that all you need to do is take the necessary steps to slow down, hang on and wait it out.