Marine Weather Courses

sailing weather and galley seminarLearn how plan and make the most of your sailing by using weather charts, data and your own on-board observations. Develop your forecasting skills to predict local winds and wind shifts, hazardous conditions, and safe harbors at the end of the day.  Marine Meteorologist and sailor David Wilkinson offers weather clinics and workshops that apply weather theory to day-sailing, racing and cruising.  


  • Classroom Instruction
  • Multiple courses ranging from 1 to 6hrs
  • Race and Cruise Consulting
  • Presented by Marine Meteorologist David Wilkinson

Go to Weather Seminars for upcoming seminars.  Weather Seminars »


navigating a storm sailing

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The Marine Weather Courses provides excellent training for beginning and experienced sailors; and all boaters certainly benefit from a sailor’s obsession with weather…!

Understanding marine weather is one of the most important skills of a good sailor. When to sail, where to sail, even if you should cast off at all are decisions that rely upon a sailor’s ability to predict the wind and seas. Temperature, wind and precipitation contribute to the ‘fun factor’ of sailing. Whether you prefer warm and dry or wet and wild, know when and where to find your favorite sailing conditions.

Marine weather impacts many safety considerations: skipper and crew experience, vessel stability, what equipment to use, clothes to wear, potential navigational hazards, and a respect that accidents and equipment failures are more likely in adverse weather.  The Marine Weather Course teaches the practical application of both atmospheric science and oceanography in relation to sailing.

Sail fast. Sail safe. Sail weatherwise not otherwise!

Seminars & Workshops

The Marine Weather series includes shorter seminars and workshops focused on specific topics relevant to sailing and cruising.
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» Understanding the Wind  ⊕read more

Understanding the Wind

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Wind affects all boaters whether power or sail, on inland waters or offshore. A boat's course and speed, lee shores, and safe anchorages are all determined by the wind. This introduction to the nature of wind, from global circulation to local patterns, will help you factor the weather into your boating plans. Learn the basic forces that cause the wind and how to read a weather chart to avoid strong winds and dangerous seas.

Approx. 1 hour of classroom instruction.

» Coastal Winds: Sea Breezes, Corner Effect, Dirty Air, and More!  ⊕read more

Coastal Winds, Sea Breezes, Corner Effect, Dirty Air, and More

Turning Point Lighthouse

Learn how to use your knowledge of local terrain to better interpret and apply the general area forecast. Land affects wind speed and direction over coastal and inland waters in predictable ways. Use a few basic weather principles to predict the winds and their effect on sea state for your next cruise.

Approx. 1 hour of classroom instruction.

» Clouds: A Sailor’s Telltales in the Sky  ⊕read more

Clouds: a Sailor's Telltales

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Clouds tell us a lot about the weather to expect very soon and over the next few days. Will it be fair or rain, warm or cold? Will winds be strong or light and from what points of the compass? Will the wind be steady or gusty?  Learn the basic cloud types and the weather they foretell; how to judge cloud movement and growth; and what weather data you can use to decipher the message in the clouds.

Approx. 1 hour of classroom instruction.

» The Barometer: An Essential On-Board Forecasting Tool  ⊕read more

How to use a Barometer for weather forecasting

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When you’re underway and internet weather data is beyond reach, the barometer on the bulkhead remains an essential tool to understanding and predicting the weather. Along with on-board observations of wind direction and speed, clouds, temperature, and precipitation; the barometer will identify trends in these key weather factors and help you avoid uncomfortable and possibly dangerous conditions afloat.

Approx. 1 hour of classroom instruction.

» Wind for Mariners  ⊕read more

Weather analysis starts with obervations

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This in-depth class on the relationship of atmospheric pressure and wind prepares the student to interpret weather charts ashore and afloat. Sailors will learn to determine the path of a squall relative to their course, estimate wind speed and direction from a weather chart, and calculate true wind.

Approx. 2.5 hours of classroom instruction.

» Heavy Weather: Strong Winds and Big Seas  ⊕read more

navigating a storm sailing

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Heavy Weather will describe strong wind systems you will find at home in the Pacific Northwest and cruising in the tropics. Learn how to read a weather chart and get the data you need to prepare both your boat and crew for heavy winds. Identify the telltale signs for high winds that may come in the next few minutes and in the days ahead. Learn how to avoid high wind conditions on your day sail, coastal cruise, or even ocean passage. Knowing the weather is key to sailing safer, faster, and with fewer surprises.

Approx. 2.5 hours of classroom instruction.

» Marine Weather: Weather Systems, Wind, and Sea State  ⊕read more

Reading weather at 500mb chart

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Learn how global wind patterns determine the paths of storms in the mid-latitudes and tropics. Key features of low pressure systems and tropical disturbances will be discussed including how to determine storm intensity and effects on sea state. Discover how 500 mb wind patterns can help you find “weather windows” for safe coastal passages and plan open ocean voyages.  Ocean Prediction Center weather charts will be used to demonstrate key relationships between atmospheric pressure, wind, and sea state. Web-based and traditional weather data sources for voyage planning and operations underway will be provided.

Approx. 2.5 hours of classroom instruction.

» Decoding the Weather Charts: FAX and GRIB Graphics  ⊕read more

WRF Forecast Racing on the Salish Sea

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The class will focus on the interpretation of the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center “fax” charts. Analysis and forecast charts for both the surface and upper atmosphere are examined. Mariners will learn key relationships between atmospheric pressure, wind, and sea state. As supplements to OPC charts, computer generated GRIB weather data will also be presented. The pros and cons of OPC charts and computer generated weather data will be discussed. How to access weather data ashore and afloat along with associated costs and required equipment is included.

Approx. 2.5 hours of classroom instruction.

» Weather for Cruisers  ⊕read more

Weather for Cruisers

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Two favorite cruising grounds are featured in this discussion of weather as it is important to extended time aboard. Weather systems of the San Juan Islands and the U.S Virgin Islands are explained and YES, these types of weather are very different! Data sources are provided to help you select the best times to go cruising, and then for obtaining forecasts once you are aboard. Specialized weather logs for each cruising ground are also included and then demonstrated as part of a daily weather briefing during the cruise. You will be well prepared to access and use weather information that will help you plan your next vacation afloat and your daily activities once aboard.

Approx. 2.5 hours of classroom instruction.

» Marine Weather Workshop: Sea Grant ⊕read more

Seagrant weather presentation

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The workshop includes presentations by Jay Albrecht, NWS Lead Forecaster and Marine Program Manager. The class begins with an introduction to NWS Ocean Prediction Center weather charts. Mr. Albrecht then presents NWS webpages and products, including computer models, provided by the NWS and other selected sites. Global wind patterns and the relationship between atmospheric pressure are then covered to set the stage for introducing strong wind systems. Mr. Albrecht then present information about ocean waves and where the data can be obtained. The workshop then covers winds aloft and how to use those concepts to plan a course where winds are unlikely to be more than Force 5 and to find a fair “weather window” for the first several days of a voyage. The workshop culminates with a discussion of how weather information can be applied to make boating safer and more enjoyable.

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About your Instructor

Dave Wilkinson ASA Starpath Island Sailing InstructorDave Wilkinson, holds a MS in Atmospheric Science from Oregon State University, is member of the American Meteorological Society and the American Sailing Association where he is a certified marine weather instructor. Dave teaches marine weather at the Northwest Maritime Center, for the University of Washington Sea Grant Program, the Center for Wooden Boats, and sailing schools in Seattle and Portland. His sailing experiences in Mexico, the Caribbean, and New Zealand, as well as the Pacific Northwest, provide realistic context for describing key weather concepts.

Go to Weather Seminars for upcoming seminars.  Weather Seminars »

For Weather Planning consultation with racing or your next cruise, please feel welcome to contact Instructor Dave Wilkinson directly at or (503) 871-6969. Dave also teaches at the Northwest Maritime Center (Port Townsend), Center for Wooden Boats (Seattle) and at various locations with the University of Washington Sea Grant program; please contact Dave for other dates in the Northwest.

To Register:

island sailing contact informationContact us at (503) 285-7765 for upcoming class dates, to sign-up, and we'll certainly answer any questions you may have.

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