Safety Tips for Boating in Inclement Weather

To be truly prepared for anything nature can throw your way while boating, always expect the unexpected.

Before your departure, you should check the weather conditions on the radio, internet or television. The best source for marine weather forecasts is NOAA Weather radio. Stay tuned during the trip as warnings and forecasts are aired immediately on NOAA. While boating, continue to watch the clouds- conditions can change very quickly, and you should always be ready to act. The boat should be equipped with safety gear at all times, including flares, fire extinguishers, flashlights, life rafts, etc. Make sure everyone on the boat is familiar with the workings of the VHF radio.

Wind increases in the direction opposite of a strong tidal current are capable of producing large waves which could possibly broach your boat. If you get stuck boating in high winds, try to head into the waves at a slight angle, at the same time reducing your speed. You don’t want to fall off a wave, or have waves breaking over your stern. Angling your way into the waves at a low speed will aid you in maintaining control.

You should head for shore if at all possible if a thunderstorm is threatening. If this isn’t going to happen, you should immediately put on your life jacket and begin preparing for rough seas, staying below deck if possible. Keep away from any metal objects and do not touch more than one grounded object at a time as this makes you vulnerable to electrical surges passing through your boat's protection system.

Boating in bad weather can for the most part be avoided by checking the marine forecast. Stay safe by checking ahead and making sure your boat is stocked with all the proper safety gear. Make sure your boating partners are aware of the proper precautions and actions to be taken should foul weather be encountered. Preparation is key for safe boating.