Friday, 9 June 2017

Should I stay or should I go?

One of the hardest decisions I have to make is whether to cancel a lesson or not.

I use two, sometimes three, apps/websites... the main one is Windfinder, then I check on Tides4Fishing and finally Buoyweather. But Whitstable has it's own weather - honestly, it's true! The only way to be absolutely sure of how the sea is is to go down and look at it. The apps might all say that the wind is up, say 10 kts gusting at 15 kts... I walk down to the beach and it's dead calm.

Or vice versa.

My scenario is often that I have a student coming from an hour away, Dartford perhaps, and they need to know the night before, or early in the day. The tide goes out so far here and is out for a really long time. I'll go down to the beach to look and the distant water may look fine but all the apps say the wind is coming up and could be more than I'm comfortable teaching on (12 kts or 13.81mph max).

Luckily I can offer a choice - but only if I have time and the student doesn't mind changing location. There is an excellent river half an hour away and, unless it is blowing a total gale and lashing down with rain, we can usually go there. For a first lesson it's ideal - easy to launch and lots of sheltered places to practice standing and turning.

It's only a 35 minute drive from Whitstable and it's always a pleasure to paddle on the river. I do tend to err on the side of caution and believe the app - even though I have returned to Whitstable to find the sea has been glassy! It's not worth the risk.

So, hopefully the lesson can still happen. I'll check the apps and ask myself, to quote The Clash, 'Should I stay or should I go?' and then I start to load the car!

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