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Asking for Trouble

You could almost write a book on Caribbean weather. Whether a weather forecast will be accurate is a good question and many visitors are clearly put out when forecasts are way off – a not unusual occurrence.

Last week Charlie was out with an American family on a 44-ft catamaran called Sunny Daze. It rained every single day but there were sunny spells so Charlie was able to point out to his distressed guests that the weather forecast was actually correct because it had used the tried and true foolproof system called the ‘percentage method.’ Meteorologists now glibly rattle off all the locations in their forecast area with a ten, twenty, thirty per cent etc. likelihood of rain and then smugly say, ‘told you so.’ I have never heard a single forecast say ‘zero chance of rain,’ far too risky.

On the first day Charlie was sailing close-hauled up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to the North Sound. The forecast had mentioned scattered showers and winds to 20 knots but the 30 knots and seas to 8-ft had them all a bit surprised. Green water was sweeping across the decks, spray soaking everyone even on the bridge deck. Every ten minutes a violent squall would slam the boat and the double reefed main would have to be eased, “They didn’t show this in the brochure,” said Dad as the seawater dripped off his nose whilst stinging spray reddened his eyes. Twelve year old daughter, Abbie, puked up all over the cushions and when Charlie heard a crash in the galley he decided to change course and head for Norman Island’s Bight.

The weather continued wet and blustery for most of the week with winds in the 20 to 30 knot range with constant squalls. Charlie tried to cheer up his guests, “The worst day in the BVI is better than the best day up north,” he said. “At least it’s not cold.” He suppressed a shiver and pulled the collar of his foul weather jacket up a little higher. The tourists were not impressed. Later Charlie managed a temporary fix by mixing several batches of Painkillers in the blender.

Two days before the charter was to end the weather forecast for the following day stated that there would be only a ten percent chance of showers. The day turned out to be beautiful, almost a brochure day, with only scattered showers. Dad was the cynical one though. He kept turning a weather eye to the east and every fluffy cumulus cloud was a potential hurricane. “I’ll never rent Sunny Daze again,” he said. “It’s asking for trouble.”     

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