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THE BAROMETER OF I THE SKY dy S. G. W. BENJAMIN. What is more poetic than a sunset at sea ? What more stimulating to the fancy than the dan masses rolling up before a storm ? The artist revels in painting them, and, on the other hand, the sailor studies them no less keenly, and reads from them the warnings and the promises of the weather. The expe- rienced and intelligent mariner little needs a barometer in the regions to which he is accustomed so long as he can observe the heavens. Whoever would be a complete yachtsman must understand the signs of the weather. Indeed, he must depend more upon his observation of these signs than on the barometer. That instrument is, of course, of great use, especially to indicate when a re- volving storm is approaching its height. But the true seaman will never trust to that alone. The conditions north of the equator are re- versed south of the line. They also vary in different oceans, although following certain general laws. In the North Atlantic, where our yachtsmen do most of their sailing, not- withstanding all the varieties of weather, the signs which foretell a ohange are quite uni- form. The different tints of yellow in the sunset sky are among the most exquisite effects in nature. And yet each tint has a distinct meaning of his own, although to many who have not learned to see nature the splendour of the sunset yellow is lifeg UA# primrose to Peter Bell. A primrose by the river's brim. A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more. For example, while a yellow verging on orange means a fair night, with perhaps a steady but moderate breeze, a vivid straw- yellow sunset foretells a violent wind soon to follow, increasing perhaps to a tempest before daylight. A fiery glow below a canopy of clouds, lighting up the entire dome of the heavens, is one of the most magnificent spec- tacles one sees at sea. But it precedes a high wind. If the sun sets in a cloud, it is a sure precursor of a change of weather from good to bad. And during a storm, just so long as the sun rises high or sets in a cloud, there will be no improvement in the weather. If a storm clears off during the night and the stars come out, the clearing weather will be only temporary. The wind has simply backed in, as they say, gone to the North-west from the North-east, instead of going around by the South-west. In a few hours, or a day at farthest, the gale will begin again and clear away by the wind going around by south-west to north-west, which in sailors' phrase is with the sun as with the hands of a watch, if we suppose the face of a watch to repre- sent the face card of a compass. A pale turqoise green near the horizon at sunset indicates serene weather, but a dull, dirty green inclining to olive is not a pleasant colour to the sailor's eye, for it means all hands aloft to reef topsails just when he has turned in to take forty winks in his bunk. If you are caught outside in your little sloop with such a peculiar green in the west at nightfall scud down your kites, take a preli- minary reef in your mainsail, and have the storm-jib handy, for you may need both. It is the belief of sailors that meteors shoot toward the quarter from which the wind is going to come. I have observed this pheno- menon often enough, but cannot consider it more than a coincidence. Perhaps, after the meteor enters our atmosphere its direction is affected by the currents of air it meets. What is more certain is that when the white-caps or crests of the waves are unusually brilliant at night-I have seen them light up the gloom so that 1 could read the time on my watch—foul weather is sure to follow within 24 hours, It is curious also that a school of porpoises, when going straight ahead without stopping to gambol, proceeds in the direction from which the wind is about to come. When the clouds near the horizon take the appearance of land keep a good lookout, for there is treachery in the air. It is an almost sure sign of a dirty night if cloud land is seen after the middle of the afternoon, and espe- cially in the autumn. This effect is quite common in the vicinity of the Azores Islands. Mirage on a calm day also precedes heavy weather. One of the narrowest escapes from shipwreck in my experience was in a storm which struck us off St. Jorge Island two hours after the oiling had been studded with clouds that looked amazingly like a group of islands. Waterspouts mean both wind and rain. Majestic as they are, like columns supporting the sky, they are yet full of mischief: storms turk in their vicinity, aside from the fact that one must keep well out of the tract of these terrors of the deep. I well remember a lucky escape I had from a waterspout in the Gulf Stream. The barque was making heavy weather under reefed topsails. It was dusk; it had just struck four bells, or six o'clock, and the:men bad gone forward with their pannikins of tea from the galley, when Captain Baker took another squint to windward before going below. To his horror, he discovered a pro- digious waterspout heading directly for the ship. In another minute the masts might have been taken out, or, perhaps, indeed, the vessel might have been sunk. There was no time to give orders. Captain Baker flew to the helm, thrust the man from the wheel, I seized the spokes himself, and jammed the barque right up into the wind all standing. The waterspout swept just past the quarter, barely clearing the vessel. "Eternal vigi- j lance is the price of safety at sea and in a sailing ship. Scirrus clouds, popularly called a mackerel j sky, because they suggest the; appearance of a school of mackerel, foretell rain they usually precede a gathering storm of both wind and rain of some duration, although it may some- times be of rain alone. A greasy" sky, Which is a dull, dirty grey, resembling lead emirohed with a greased cloth, is ominous of bad weather. Long white streamers, reach- ing from the horizon to the zenith resem- bling white rockets, and known as mares tails, indicate a coming wind, and they reach up from the quarter whence it is rising. If there is a low stratum of clouds or scud moving rapidly over the water do not allow yourself to be deluded into ex- pecting the wind to continue to go with them if overhead another mass of clouds is seen driving in another direotion. The upper driving in another direotion. The upper layer shows which way the wind is going to blow. As a rule, a storm which comes np quickly As a rule, a storm which comes np quickly will not last long. But when for days the wind blows from the east and the sky becomes gradually overcast, then prepare for a long and severe tempest. The uncertainty as to the force of a coming squall is what makes it dangerous. Some- times a most wicked-looking sky "ill only yield a moderate puff while a seemingly sweet-tempered summer inhering of olouds I above the horizon will suddenly develop iato a very dangerous squall, 11 r»i» pre- cedes the wind the gust Will be violent, but if the wind comes first the worst 18 soon over. In any case stand by your halliards. As the sea saying goes, When the rain ecsnss before N,e w'Dd Your topgail liaiiiardg oullid; When the wind comes before tlko.TAi-a Tour topiaiiahoiit a^aw," *> 1 It is from this fact that people say when the rain follows the wind that it kills the wind. It is nothing of the sort. The rain does not affect the wind one often sees wind and rain driving furiously together at the same moment. It is simply a different variety of squall, squalls being of all kinds, and all of them requiring close observation and a cool head. There are no forms of cloud more grand and beautiful than those called cumuli, from the Latin cumulus, a mound or hill. Heav- ing up against the sky in rolling masses sug- gesting mountains and valleys, castles or cliffs tufted with forests, and tinted with ex- quisite hues, they appeal most vividly to the artistic eye and the poetic imagination. Al- though apparently alike, they are really of two kinds. When seen gathering in the west they foretell thunder and lightning and wind. But when seen in the northern horizon, and especially in the southern board, they fore- tell fine weather and calms. While they con- tinue there you may bask on deck and spin yarns at your ease. But when they disappear, then watch well the signs of the weather, for often, especially in midwinter, such fair weather cumuli prove to be weather breeders." One often hears people saying that thunderstorms come against the wind. This is in a sense true, although they who say this do not see exactly how and why this should be. When a south-west wind is about to shift to the north-west the meeting of the warm and the cold currents of air pro- duces an aerial battle that is called a thunder- storm. In the language of sailors it is called a shift of the wind. At sea especially the approaohing change is betokened by light- ning in the sourh-west. This may go on for hours, but when the shift of the wind finally jccurs it is very sudden and violent, and is usually accompanied by electrical effects, often far more appalling at sea than on land, particularly after the autumnal equinox. For this reason it is a maxim of those sailing on the North Atlantic that when you see it lighten in the south-west after the 1st of Ootober you cannot take sail in too soon. A shift of the wind generally following another heavy wind is dangerous, because it presses a ship against a high cross-sea, and the sails must be instantly trimmed to meet the change, or the ship may go down. The change is usually announced by a short lull, an absolute calm of a few minutes. The most treacherous wind on our coast is what is called a smoky sou'wester. The sky in that quarter has a brassy haze, and the wind shows a determination to increase. Often it proves only a strong breeze, going down with the sun or terminating in a thunder squall out of the north-west. But occasionally and without any apparent reason or warning the wind pipes went up to a violent degree, causing serious disasters. Keep your weather eye well open, therefore, and watch very carefully when it is blowing a smoky sou'wester, particularly if it is pre- ceded by a southerly swell. Leave the girls at home at such a time, and have a port handy if you should need to run for a lee. In all cases when the clouds in the morning seem to threaten a long storm look not so much to windward as to leeward. If the leeward is clear there is little to fear. But if a sullen, dense grey bank is there, then look out I Everyone has heard the saying;- If Rainbow at night Sailor's delight. Rainbow at morning Sailors take warning." The statement in the first part of this verse often comes true, at least for a few hours; but the rainbow in the morning is an unfailing sign of foul weather near at hand. So also is a glow thrown over a cloudy sky at sunrise. No matter how beautiful it is if it is cast on clouds it is likely to be followed by gloom and storm. An unusually heavy dew on a clear starry night means a southerly I wind, and a low wailing in the shrouds fore- tells a south-west gale. But if onejsees spiders weaving their webs in the rigging he may expect a spell of clear, dry weather.

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