November 12, 2009

My barometer speaks Cherman

A BAROMETER IS A SAILOR’S BEST FRIEND. It gives its services freely and constantly; and you never have to buy it a drink. The one on my boat has a case of shiny brass and it’s an aneroid. I believe that means it doesn’t have a sex. A gender, that is.

I’m told that male barometers are boastful and exaggerating, whereas female ones are gentle, calming souls who are not keen to give the bad news. On a female barometer the arm points to “Possible Rain – but Highly Unlikely Dearie” or “Delightful Day – Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen.” Male barometers just list three brutally simple forms of weather, clockwise from the left: “Rain,” “Change,” and “Fair.”

Now my barometer is not only aneroid. It also speaks Cherman. On its face it says: “Regen,” “Veränderlich,” “Schön.” Luckily I learned Cherman from an old girl friend, so I could read the instructions:

“Guten tag, mein Hairies und Damen, das ist der Cherman Weddermasjien, mit der Movink Lever für der Predikshun von Donner und Blitzen, und Sturm und Drang.

“Achtung dumkopf! Nicht upwinden. Gefingerpoken und upwinden ist verboden. Der Weddermasjien ist solo für lookenpeepen. Das ist nicht eine Klockwerken Masjien. Danke schön.”

Surprisingly, der Movink Lever scale is marked in millibars and centimeters. Other barometers may be marked in inches and millimeters, or any combination of these measurements. It’s not necessary to know the precise measures, though, because it’s the trend of the pressure that’s important. High pressure means fair weather. Low pressure means the likelihood of storms. That’s all you need to know. Oh, just one other thing — if the pressure falls at least one millibar per hour for 24 hours, you’re in the path of a weather bomb. Get the heck out of there, and quickly.

Barometers are also used by airplanes and mountain climbers, of course. As you rise above sea level, air pressure drops, so the barometer can tell you your altitude. This is very handy if you ignored my warning about the weather bomb and need to know your height when you get blown out of the water.

Today’s Thought
The best weather instrument yet devised is a pair of human eyes.
— Harold M. Gibson, Chief Meteorologist, NYC Weather Bureau

“Yes, I’ve been very unfortunate with both my husbands.”
“Oh? Why?”
“Well, the first one ran away.”
“And the second?”
“He didn’t.”


Anonymous said...

My current boat does not have a barometer even though its in its 30's. The price of those shiny brass instruments does not preclude me to rush out and get one.
Should every boat have one, even a $50 aneroid barometer?

John Vigor said...

It depends what sort of sailing you do. If you do daysailing, a barometer is not necessary, But if you go cruising at weekends or longer, and spend nights on the boat at anchor, then I'd say, yes, you should have a barometer, more especially if you can't receive marine weather forecasts. You don't need an expensive one. Any small inexpensive aneroid will do fine.
There are some good electronic ones these days that keep a record of past pressures and show you a graph of whether the barometer is trending up or down, which is what you want to know.

John V.

John Petter said...

I have see your post and i am always with you in this way. If a sailor has no barometers then it is dangerous for that and also for all who is in the boat.Using barometer you have whether update and as per them you will take proper steps for that.I also know that it is not afforded by all sailors but, If they want to buy barometers then they will do it.