Six (un)orthodox methods for checking wind direction
Knowing the direction of the wind is critical to windsurfers and kiteboarders. There are many wind measurement methods; some of them are quite precise and accurate, some of them are just enough to sail away.
The wind compass is a simple and effective tool to know where the wind is blowing from. The information is given in letters (example: NE, SW), but the compass is usually divided into 360 degrees around the full circle. This will allow for more precise measurements.
Subtle changes in wind direction will have impacts on the way you sail. Although it not always possible to perfectly adjust to the right origin of the breeze, it is important to know different ways of checking wind direction wherever you are.
Onshore beach flags provide valuable information as they always shift with the wind. You can check them if you're at the beach, but you can also take a quick glance at them when sailing out in the water.
Hand pouring sand is another classic way of knowing where is the wind blowing from. It's quite easy; just let those grains tell you if it's offshore or side shore breeze.
One of the most accurate methods is the wind vane. Although you might not find many weather vanes near sailing spots, today you can easily afford a similar product for your smartphone that works like a portable anemometer.
Windsocks are not often seen near lakes, beaches or rivers, but if you're driving to your favorite sailing spot, you might pass by one of these conical tubes down the highway. Remember that in this particular case, the wind direction is the opposite of the direction in which the windsock is pointing.
The wet-finger-in-the-wind test is one of the most inexact and erroneous ways of analyzing wind sources. The problem with the human wind meter is that it is clearly unreliable in very humid and very hot conditions.
Modern digital anemometers are the most accurate wind measurement method. These portable devices are sold with a broad range of options and functions such as air temperature, air pressure, and wind speed.
Do you know the Beaufort Wind Scale? Take a look at it. Knowledge is power.