Small brain warnings
OK. Somebody please tell me why the good folks who operate the Solomons Island Sailing Club down in Calvert County had a dozen young sailors - inexperienced boaters in their teens - out on the Chesapeake yesterday afternoon in "daysailors."
In case you hadn't heard, five of the six boats capsized in strong winds at around 4:30 p.m., pitching the kids into the frigid water. All were saved, thanks to life vests, wet suits and quick action by rescuers. But everybody was danged lucky.
In The Sun's story today, the youth sailing organizer for the Southern Maryland Sailing Association described the boats as "small dinghies ... they capsize all the time."
That's fine in the summer. With life jackets on, a little dunking when the boat goes over is fine. Fun, even. A learning experience.
But the water temperatures in the bay are still in the 40s.
And more to the point, the National Weather Service had posted small craft advisories for the Chesapeake at 11:10 a.m. There was a strong cold front surging across the region during the afternoon, forecast to shift the winds from south to north, and increase their speeds to 15 to 20 knots or higher. (That's 17 to 23 mph.)
At the Patuxent Naval Air Station, just across the river from Solomons, weather data show that the winds shifted from south to north between 4 and 5 p.m., and jumped from 9 mph to 25 mph, with gusts to 35 mph. Just about the time the boats keeled over.
So why would any (presumably) adult send student sailors onto the bay - in "dinghies" - under small craft advisories? Sure, it was balmy through the noon hour yesterday. But wasn't anyone watching the forecast? Checking the watches and warnings? Someone needs to go back to sailing school.