To be more precise, we’re talking about active safety (not post-accident), and speed as velocity made good. The first act of safety is to be alert to everything around you. Don’t get planted behind a sail where a continuous 360-degree scan is ineffective. Sailboats can’t sail directly up wind, so VMG measures the rate at which the boat progresses toward a destination. We’re talking about them together because for many scenarios, safety and VMG are companions.
All sailboats are designed to perform best in well-defined weather conditions. For most small sailboats, that is approximately a 12-knot wind and waves less than 1 foot. So the first element of active safety is to check the weather forecast. A marine weather service like Sailflow on www.pgscweb.com will give predictions specific to where you sail and include a prediction of gusts. However, Charlotte Harbor and all similar harbors have regions of higher velocity by “channeling” (for example, at the Ponce point of PGI) and rapid large oscillations (as occur northeast of Fisherman’s Village). So learning to sail a new small boat is best when the wind is less than 12 knots.
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