Sea Tow Reminds Boaters to Check the Weather Before Boating
As many boaters have learned the hard way, a beautiful morning on the water can quickly turn into a windy, stormy afternoon. That’s why it’s important to check the weather forecast before you head out. A good place to check the forecast for your local waters is on the Sea Tow Foundation’s website at BoatingSafety.com. The site lets you check the marine forecast for your area, as well as access the Weather Channel and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) websites.
Of course, it’s equally important to monitor the weather on the water, especially if storms are predicted. If you have a VHF radio, you can tune to the NOAA weather channel (accessed via the “WX” button). Even if you don’t have a radio, you can still keep an eye out for changes in wind direction and/or wind speed. The buildup of dark clouds, especially in the western sky, is an indicator that it’s time to head for safe harbor.
If your boat has radar, you can use it to watch for severe weather. Set the radar gain and clutter controls properly and you should be able to detect heavy rain from a safe distance.
Note that some onboard multi-function displays (MFDs) give you access to current radar images and weather data via a subscription satellite service, so you can keep an eye on approaching thunderstorm cells and weather fronts many miles from shore. Also, if you are within cell phone range and have a smartphone or an iPad, you can also get updated radar and weather information via the internet.