With smartphones giving us access to information on demand, it’s hard to remember a time without the ease of modern technology.
These days, we can find out the news through a phone notification or the forecast for the week just by scrolling to a favorite weather app. Long before these technological advancements, sailors and mariners had to rely on lore or proverb and what they knew about studying the sky to make weather predictions.
Sailors had to (and still do!) take account of changes in the weather to adapt to the conditions of the sea. That means paying attention to the force and direction of the wind to avoid peril. Lore came in handy for this. Sailors created poems or rhymes about shifts in the weather and their significance to retain information and pass it down through the generations.
Are you familiar with any sailor lore? Let’s explore four common expressions together.
1 – “The higher the clouds, the finer the weather.”
This here is a well-known proverb. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, this proverb means, If you spot wispy, thin clouds up high in the sky, you can expect a spell of pleasant weather. However, if you see smaller puffy clouds with rounded tops and flat bases grow throughout the day, it could signal thunderstorms.
2 – “Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.”
Are you heading out for an early morning cruise? According to this lore, you can expect to get caught in the rain shower if you see a rainbow.
3 – “Seagull, seagull, sits on the sand. It’s a sign of rain when you are at hand.”
Seagulls usually only head inland when bad weather is afoot. So remember this lore if you’re on the dock, ready to push off, and you see seagulls overhead. Showers could be on their way!
4 – “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”
For this saying, it’s essential to know that weather in our continental latitude typically moves from west to east and that dry weather is prime for sailing. So a red sunset signals that the ideal dry air for sailing is moving east. Meanwhile, a red sunrise indicates the dry air you want has already gone by, and unlucky weather could be on its way.
These pieces of mariner lore are just a bit of fun! We hope you share them with your friends and family the next time you’re having your next boating day or fishing excursion.
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