What is the best kind of wind direction indicator to fit to your boat? A standard burgee or one of the fancy pointy things?
In the immortal words of well-known Minnesota sailor Robert Zimmerman, former owner of the Bequia schooner Water Pearl, "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."
And after you've been sailing for a while you really won't need a wind indicator, pointy or otherwise, to know which way the wind blows - at least in medium and heavy wind.
But light airs are a different story. When it's one of those hazy, lazy, patchy-wind days of summer and in some places there is a knot or two and in other places there isn't a breath ... Well, then you do need a very sensitive wind indicator to be able to detect the slightest zephyrs so you can trim your sails accordingly.
I favor using cassette tape, one indicator at the top of the mast, and one in front of the mast of my Laser at eye level. I use the lower one most of the time but if that one is hanging straight down I look at the mast-head fly and sometimes it gives me a clue of where the new wind may be coming from.
But here's the real secret. You have to use the right cassette tape.
I tried using a recording of the aforementioned Mr Zimmerman's Idiot Wind. Bad idea. "Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull." Enough said. I also tried using some tape of his Blowin' in the Wind but judging by the results I must have accidentally used a section of Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. Easy mistake to make.
Lately I have been having success with tape from Eric Clapton's Unplugged album. The tape is always on top of my sailing toolbox in case I need another piece.
At first I used a piece of Rollin' and Tumblin' but it made the boat very unstable - hate those death rolls. And the time I tried Before You Accuse Me I ended up in the protest room. And using Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out was a total disaster. All too prophetic, I fear. DFL.
But if you can stay away from those three tracks you will get good results, I promise.
If you can't lay your hands on any of the special light airs go-faster Clapton Unplugged wind-indicator tape, I can supply it at a special reduced rate of $5 per foot. Just send your bank account details to my email address and I will arrange the transfer.