Everyone always talks about the weather. It is a safe topic where you seem immune from hurting someone's feelings or offending their beliefs. But the funny part about weather is you will hear forecast reports from many people about the same day and they will all differ drastically!
One person will say they heard it was supposed to rain, another will say it's supposed to be clear skies! If land based weather forecasts are so wrong, what makes you think that weather forecasts over water will be any better?
I heavily trust a website called Passage Weather (http://www.passageweather.com) for my weather information. They tend to be spot on with wind force and direction, but not always the best with when said wind will arrive.
We were sailing along as the sun was setting when we were becalmed. We drifted for a few more hours until we started to get tired. I looked up the wind information from passage weather for the area and it said that we were to have no wind for the next 9 hours. After that, the winds were to pick up to 20 knots from the North.
We were in an exposed area, offering us no protection from wind or waves, but we figured we could get 8 hours of sleep, and then raise anchor to keep going before the winds returned. We set the anchor and got ready to sleep when the winds hit with full fury.
The winds that were supposed to be 9 hours away slammed into us and we were stuck! We were both tired and raising the anchor in that much wind would take some considerable effort. We decided that we would simply ride out the night and keep moving in the morning as the anchor showed no signs of dragging.
We spent that night heaving around in 4 foot seas, not sleeping, as we were constantly awakened by the constant trashing of the waves against the hull and the howling of the rigging in the wind. The next morning, our anchor and all of its chain needed to be collected before we could continue our way. It took me nearly 2 hours to crank in the 180 feet of chain I had let out with our manual windlass, pulling in 1 link per stroke on low speed.
The sleepless night concluded with us raising anchor in a blow and sailing away in sloppy weather, all because the forecast said it would be a calm night. Forecasts might be fun to talk about on land, but the weather can always change and this can have serious consequences for you when cruising.