Capt. Kelly J. Gordon shares how she plans and prepares for weather at sea.
By Pete McDonald | May 31, 2023
The seas seemed calm and the forecast looked fine as Capt. Kelly Gordon prepared to take her customer’s private yacht from the Bahamas back to their home in Florida. She had looked at the forecast and made the decision to cross, which is pretty routine in fair conditions. But as she exited the Northwest Providence Channel and started to traverse the notoriously shallow Great Bahama Bank, a serious storm appeared out of nowhere, kicking up confused seas and buffeting the boat with heavy wind and rain. Suddenly, Gordon was faced with a serious situation: running through the narrow channels with little margin for error. She had a decision to make fast, and how she handled it would determine the safety of her passengers and crew. If caught in the same situation, what would you do?
Weather is the one thing beyond any boater’s control. What is in the captain’s control is how to plan for and handle inclement weather when it arrives. Fortunately, Gordon had a plan, relying on her training as a 500 GT Master and 15 years of experience at the helm. “Weather and navigation are my favorite parts of my job,” she says.
We talked to Gordon about boating and weather, and here’s her sage advice.
Check and Recheck
“Checking the weather before a trip should be your highest priority,” Gordon says. “You can have your vessel in tiptop shape and bring aboard all the supplies and spare parts. You can study the best route to your destination and have it all planned out. But if the weather isn’t suitable, the rest is irrelevant.”