Small Craft Warning?

We editors at Good Old Boat are sailors and wordsmiths, a great mesh of interest and vocation. It also means that when the National Weather Service (NWS) proposes a change in the wording of a broadcast that affects sailors, our interest is piqued.

Following years of social science research, the National Weather Service is proposing changes to its decades-old Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system. The primary finding of this social science research? According the NWS, “One of the most important findings during this process has been the high level of misunderstanding around [the term] Advisory.”

Accordingly, the NWS is proposing to change “Small Craft Advisory” to “Small Craft Warning.” The rationale is that it simplifies the messaging, aligning it with “Gale Warning,” “Storm Warning,” and “Hurricane-force Wind Warning.”

We’re not on board.

Extending the NWS rationale, won’t this change mean that mariners will now interpret the warning to mean they should be concerned that there are small craft in the area?

And why not focus on what is potentially confusing about “Small Craft Advisory,” the fact that there remains no definition for “small craft?”

And what about the clever folks who, over 20 years ago, started Small Craft Advisor magazine? Has the NWS considered them? Small Craft Warner doesn’t work for us.

And if the NWS must make a change to familiar terminology, does it have to be iterative? Why not save the time and money and go all-in and make it absolutely clear and sensible like Canada did a while back, when they changed from “Small Craft Warning” to “Strong Wind Warning?”

Have your own thoughts? The National Weather Service wants to hear them. Through May 24 they welcome your input via this online survey.

Have You Heard?

We’ve spread the news far and wide, via email and Facebook and here in The Dogwatch, yet we’re still hearing from readers who don’t know that we’re giving away—free to everyone on Earth, no charge, no strings—the digital version of the current May issue of Good Old Boat, and we will do the same for the July issue. (And we’ve automatically extended every Good Old Boat subscriber’s term by two issues.)

Want yours? Download it here.

Have a sailing/boating friend who may want theirs? Send them the link—or forward them this copy of The Dogwatch!

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Nautical Trivia

So, we understand that sailors who have sailed around Cape Horn have long honored the tradition of piercing the ear closest to the Horn as they passed (the right ear if sailing west). We understand they traditionally wear a gold hoop earring in that ear. Got it.

But what about this? We learned that piercing ears has long been done by men at sea, not for ornamentation or as a badge of honor, but for the express purpose of sticking precious metals in the hole to improve their eyesight.