The topic is, indeed, scabrous: calm weather.
For the same reason, I won’t use none of the many colourful synonyms that this word has and I will focus only on the description of the most common behaviours sailors put in place in the absence of breeze.
So, what sailors do when the wind dies down?
Let’s see together some cases.
WHEN BOATS ARE ENGAGED IN A RACE, BEFORE START SIGNAL
When athletes are at sea, waiting for the start signal of a dinghy race, they simply go with the flow or, acting on the rudder with the help of a paddle, they approach their boat to the others and chat ( they often find themselves next to the nicest of the fleet). In case of prolonged waiting time, they have fun with water bombs, dives and boarding attacks to make the others’ boats capsize.
Once the list of calm weather plays is finished, they start wailing ” let’s go hooooomeee” and set course for the port so that they can be the first to come back home in case of cancellation.
If the race involves yachts, sailors usually run into the radio and start to transmit jeers, jokes, tunes or audio recordings in perfect Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket style. Alternatively, they get angry with the jury.
On the radio, I heard my favourite exchange while I was waiting for a race in Venice:
” Spritz Committee, Spritz Committee, we go home. Negroni, Negroni Committee, we go home”. ” Ostrega, no ghe xe più gnente da bevar” (Damnit, there are no drinks left). Spinello is here. Spinello is here.
( As promised, no alcohol or soft drugs. Indeed, these are names of boats)
DURING THE RACE
When a race is started, the arrival of calm weather can subvert boats’ positions. The lightest boats or those that have correctly followed the flow go ahead while the heaviest or the slowest ones stay back. That’s the so-called “lottery of *** ( please add the colourful term you like the most)”.
Those that, until then, were first now hope that the race is cancelled. Those who, instead, were back now hope to recover and start focusing on sails, performing new surprising creative compositions.
After some hours, in the silence caused by the total absence of wind, the worst insults you have never heard resound on the water.
The unison roar that raises at the cancellation signal is an emblem of Italianness, second only to passengers’ applause after the landing of a low-cost airline aircraft.
DURING A CRUISE
In the first case, you will certainly realize that you have forgotten to refuel. In the second case, water will be dirty.
Then you can read, listen to music, cook or enjoy one of the activities we have mentioned above.
But we hope you will be much more romantic..
During long transfers, you should save your fuel as much as possible in order to have enough fuel in case of damage.
Weather forecast consultation and a proper course planning can certainly help you avoid white areas where wind is totally absent.
Sometimes, however, some days of calm weather are inevitable and flat sea is often considered as an occasion to relax. You can also seize the opportunity to open portholes, ventilate and dry your boat.
After all, especially when you sail in warm waters, wind and sea don’t ensure a good temperature on board. Vice versa, cold climates make you feel cold and wet.
You can therefore take your sailing jacket off, sleep for a while, distract yourself and, above all, deal with maintenance works.
If you felt cold, now you can lie in the sun or, vice versa, escape the heat and enjoy the shadow of the boom.
It is not recommended to have a bath in the open sea because any accident can turn into a serious problem ( don’t think of sharks, a small jelly fish can be enough).
View is better and sighting easier: you can spot turtles or dolphins.
At night, if the sky is blue and the moon is out, it’s a real conference at the Planetarium: all the starts of the world are above your head and, from time to time, they fall to grant your wishes.
Something extraordinary happened to me some weeks ago: I saw the total lunar eclipse in the middle of the sea.
Me and my crew fully enjoyed the moment when the moon became as round and thick as alabaster as well as the amazing starry sky during its short ethereal absence.