P H O T O : Maria Zachariades
For me this Blog is a means of communicating some spontaneous or random thoughts alongside some more researched ideas or facts.
So, here is, a case in point!
I was fortunate enough to find myself relaxing on a bench at Victoria Docks, Caernarfon, North Wales, enjoying a beautiful Autumnal day (note: no RAIN!) and gazing at the sailing yachts swaning in and out of the harbour.
As is customary, I often find myself contemplating RAIN – whatever the weather. It’s just something I do! As I glanced across the harbour to the Dockmaster’s ‘Look-out’, I thought that there might be someone who would be able to talk about and share their experiences about RAIN.
So then was born the first RAIN-Drop-In. A short interview about RAIN.
With Many Thanks and Kind Permission I am here able to write a transcript of the interview with Mark, The Dockmaster:
M: What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word RAIN?
M: Do you think about RAIN differently in your job?
DM: Yes, it doesn’t matter to my job. I go out and meet and greet visiting yachts, whether it is sunny or raining.
M: Do people go out in the RAIN?
DM: Yes. Generally people look at the forecasts, which are pretty good. Depending on where the jet stream is over the country and it is a bit of a hit and miss as to where it is going to be it has it’s own rules. The Atlantic systems can build very quickly and travel about 300 mph so the forecasters find it hard to forecast. The forecasts we get are land based for people ashore but then there is a second set that are Maritime Forecasts that are much more in tune with people afloat. They need to be accurate because of the distances and time it takes to get anywhere leaving one port and getting to another.
M: How accurate do you think they are,? I find the land ones can ‘vary’?
DM: Yes. There are more temperature and wind extremities at sea, the Gulf Stream plays a part too and it’s all very exposed. It’s all on a massive scale.
M: If there is anything to be certain, in these parts is that the RAIN will come!
DM: Yes it will. A few years ago the seasons were very distinctive. Now whether it be climate change or other factors they seem to be intermingled.
M: How long have you been doing this job?
DM: I’ve been here 12 years in this position. I noticed for the first 6 or 7 years, there was a distinctive summer, 3 months when it was gorgeous and that’s when everybody put their sailing time into. But in the last 5 years it’s been so messed up when it’s been gorgeous in March and April and then it gets messy in June July.
M: Sitting here you’ve got a really amazing view. Do you make your own predictions?
DM: Yes, you’ve got low land and waterway out to the west and a good view into the distance so you can see maybe whole cloud systems. There’s blue sky just above us but it’s fairly grey and dark over there and blue sky to the north. The wind is northerly so this cloud now is going this way and in the afternoon it should clear. The prevailing wind is south westerly, so you can usually see systems coming along and some go across the mountains of Snowdonia. Because of their size they force weather systems around them.
M: So you can see if RAIN is coming?
DM: I can have a guess at it. 6 years ago I could guarantee it. I get a lot of husbands come up here and say if the wife asks you, it’s going to be nice! Girls don’t want to go out you see. I’ve been caught out a few times so I’ve stopped giving them a guarantee. I can give them an idea using forecasts and what I’m looking at on site, but no guarantee.
M: I did read that microclimate changes over a square metre so scale that up….
DM: It’s always changing , never the same.
Storms and the Pacific…
M: Do you have any RAIN stories? Something that sticks in your mind as “That was the RAIN that was”!
DM: Well I worked on a ship in the Pacific, which is why I know about these RAIN storms. We used to have to sail around them. It was on a passenger ship. But they missed one day. Everyone was in bikinis and sun tan lotion and the next thing there was a deluge and I remember they had to run and scatter.
M: What were you doing?
DM: I was working on Look-out.
M: So you could see this storm coming?
DM: Well we counted about 20 and we were trying to drive around them not to upset the cargo!
M: On that scale of ship, what does it feel like to go through a storm?
DM: Well sometimes you can’t see the front of the ship because the RAIN is so heavy. There’s some sea swell mixed in sometimes or you can have a totally flat calm day and have these RAIN storms. It doesn’t need any wind. There are these mushroom clouds just drifting around in what the weather systems are creating between themselves.
Local RAIN, memory and comfort…
M: Do you have any memorable RAIN experience in your job here?
DM: If it blows hard and the RAIN is horizontal, you can’t see and it hurts and there’s those times in the winter when we get big gales.
M: What was your experience of the big storms a couple of years ago?
DM: Aberystwyth got really damaged but we were more sheltered here. The wind was over the castle from the south so the water was calm like this, no waves but howling wind. If it had been round to the south-west more then we would have had huge damage. Sometimes the place looks really picture postcard but at other times you can’t park you car. In a perfect storm the water comes over the wall and throws up all sorts of chippings and rubbish.
M: But you do get people who go out sailing in the RAIN…
DM: Yes, some people love it! They have to wear the gear. When they’ve paid £400 for a suit they want to test it out.
Maria: If there is a storm will they still go out?
DM: 1 or 2 might but generally girls don’t go out! I think they don’t like the bedraggled look and if for 3 days you can’t dry your suit out, they don’t like that.
M: Does RAIN bother you?
DM: It’s only a nuisance factor. I like walking and cycling and I don’t go out in the RAIN then. It’s just uncomfortable if I’m out and getting wet or if my clothing isn’t a barrier.
M: Are there occasions when you remember enjoying the RAIN?
DM: When you’re out in the Pacific and it’s hot. It’s always very humid down there and you want the RAIN to clear the air. Sometimes in summer here too.
M: I’ve been thinking about temperature having quite an effect on our experience of RAIN.
DM: Now over half the world’s population want RAIN and don’t get it and suffer for months without it. Whereas somewhere in the Northern hemisphere it’s a RAIN belt and I just look at “it’s another good day without RAIN”! An that is totally opposite to what someone else will be thinking a 1000 miles south from here.
M: Kids don’t seem to mind the RAIN. I wander at what age do we start being bothered by the RAIN?
DM: As soon as you get a feeling of who you are, conscious of appearance then it changes.
M: Do you remember enjoying the RAIN as a kid?
DM: Yes, it’s a long time ago, but YEAH! I totally didn’t think about it as I do now so there’s been a definite transformation.
M: Well thank-you. That was brilliant!
Mark, The Dockmaster spontaneously handed me a post-it with the music that reminds him of the RAIN:
Linton Kwesi Johnston “Loraine”
Whilst we were finishing the interview, a sailor from Ireland “…where it’s always p*******” came by. (I don’t think we will avoid expletives discussing RAIN!) He explained that it was not RAIN that would deter him from sailing but the wind and gust speed. If these were Force 5 or 6 he would not go out but knew if caught, he could bring the boat back.
He used: www.xcweather.com. An excellent weather app which is updated every 3 hours.
The coastguard also update their forecasts every 3 hours but the land forecasts tend to be updated every 12 hours.