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Clouds are a sailor's friend. As long as there are clouds in the sky, you have a good idea about the type of sailing conditions you will experience for the next couple of hours. They won't necessarily tell you what's going to happen tomorrow or the day after, but if if you listen to what they say, it's not too hard to stay out of harms way when you are sailing offshore.

Clouds start at the sea surface extending up to eighteen-thousand feet, and when you look at them, you can figure out what's happening to the wind at different altitudes. High cirrus clouds tell you what's going on in the upper levels, and trade wind cumuli tell you what's happening at the lower levels. When you look at their speed and direction of movement, you discover what the winds are doing at your location.

Clouds aren't static. Their size and shape continually change throughout the day. Trade wind cumuli increase in size and height until late in the day. As the sun sets you can watch them shrink as they literally melt away in front of your eyes.

Thunderstorms announce their presence as vertically developed cumulus clouds that go all the way to eighteen-thousand feet, and they usually do it long before lightning and thunder make their appearance. When clouds are taller than they are wide, you have a condition called vertical development. When you are sailing offshore, you always look to see how much vertical development there is in the cumulus clouds, because you know it's highly unlikely to have thunder and lightning with associated squalls unless there is significant vertical development.


It's easy to avoid thunderstorms and squalls, because you can see them forming and alter your course to avoid them. There's no need to be pummeled by fierce downdrafts of forty to sixty knots; you simply sail away from them or around them. I usually don't get caught by squalls and thunderstorms unless I am not paying attention to the clouds, or if I am at anchor, and there's nothing I can do to avoid them because I am stationary.

Paying attention to clouds isn't rocket science, and you don't need an advanced degree in meteorology to use clouds to your benefit. You simply need to pay attention to what is going on around you.

In thirty-three thousand miles of sailing I have been in squalls quite a few times, and I can't remember a single instance in which I was caught off guard with too much sail up because I pay attention to what the clouds are saying. I am careful to not be over-canvassed, because blowing out sails and loosing a mast in high winds is expensive and dangerous. I sail in damage control mode most of the time, and that means fear is not a member of our crew. The sailing photo at the top of the page shows Exit Only confidently motor-sailing into the sunset. The low level cumulus clouds are breaking up as the sun sets over the horizon. Those clouds tell me it's going to be a quiet night at sea, and I feel good.


This photo is a fully developed example of "red sky at night, sailor's delight." A red sky in the evening usually means the weather is going to be relatively benign during the night. It will be a "no worries mate evening," and that's reassuring because there are lots of clouds in the sky.

Even when the sky looks ugly with billowing cumulonimbus clouds on the horizon and black squalls heading your way, you have plenty of time to prepare for the onslaught.

Thunderstorms don't last forever, and squalls pass quickly by.

If you listen to what the clouds are saying, you will handle these meteorological inconveniences in stride.

You will reduce your sail to a safe level until the tempest is over.

The real problem isn't the wind and waves. It's the storm of thoughts blowing though your mind that gets you into trouble.

If you listen to the voice of fear, your sailing adventure becomes a nightmare.

But if you listen to the clouds, you will recognize the voice of fear for the imposter that it is.

People who sail offshore in a well-found yacht have little to fear from the weather ninety-eight percent of the time, and the clouds usually tell you what to do.

The clouds are your friends, and if you listen to what they say, your life will be good as you sail on the ocean of your dreams.

Dr. Dave

Captain Dave - David J. Abbott M.D.





Exit Only

See what it's like for a family to sail around the world on a small catamaran

Captain Save Our Souls

Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.

Red Sea Blues

Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.

Red Sea Chronicles Trailer

If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 1 - When Flying Fish Attack

Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 2 - Pirate Alley

Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 3 - Aden, Yemen

Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 4- Gate of Sorrows and Sandstorms

After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.

Patreon - Maxing Out

Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.

The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea. The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal. It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers. Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.

The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.

And don't forget the two Music Videos: "The Red Sea Blues", and "Captain - Save Our Souls".

The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.


    Team Maxing Out Sails Around The World On Their 39 Foot Catamaran

    Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea


    Give your dream machine a shot in the arm

    See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one


    View the storm management video to learn how Captain Dave dealt with storms at sea

    After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams

Red Sea Chronicles

Save A Tree Bookstore

Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.