Weather, Wind and Waves

One of the most important decisions any of us make is whether we go out on the water at all. There are many factors that will have a bearing on that decision and whether the prevailing conditions are suitable for our experience at that location, our equipment and what we want to do – if it’s just staying local to the launch area or heading off on a longer trip.

To sail any craft there needs to be some wind and one of the great advantages of a sailing canoe is that, being light compared to even small dinghies, it does not need very much! Having said that, trying to sail in very light winds is not very satisfying and paddling is going to be more effective!



How much wind?

Winds of between 5 and 15 miles per hour are ideal for most sailing canoes. But it is quite possible for an experienced canoe-sailor to sail a well-rigged canoe in much stronger winds, up to 25 miles per hour or so.

A breeze that is steady in both strength and direction is much easier and pleasant to sail in than a gusty, fickle one that is confusingly blowing from various directions. The nearby land features often have an influence on the wind, with woodland, hills and mountains funnelling or reducing the winds blowing across a lake.

Waves and Weather

On larger lakes the wind has more space and time to produce waves and these can have a significant influence on a sailing canoe, being such a light craft. Making progress upwind against both a decent breeze and the waves it creates over several miles of open water can be quite challenging. The spray that is kicked up as the sailing canoe encounters larger waves can be a problem and you may need to stop and bail it out from time to time, before the canoe becomes too heavy and sluggish.

Air temperature and rain are not in themselves a problem for canoe-sailing, but the comfort/welfare of the canoe sailor is affected by weather conditions, depending on how well dressed they are in order to deal with the cold and wet
(also see the Clothing and Gear page).

For a detailed "Windscale for Canoe Sailors" click the link below