Never leave the dock without first checking the local weather forecast. Weather information is available from television, radio, local newspaper, online or from a weather channel on a VHF radio.
- At certain times of the year, weather can change rapidly and boaters should always keep an eye out for weather conditions. While boating, pay attention to the following:
- Watch for cloud build-up, especially rapid, vertically rising clouds.
- Sudden drop in temperature.
- Sudden change in wind direction and/or speed.
- On-board barometers, where placed on-board by the boat owner, should be checked every two-to-three hours. A rising barometer indicates fair weather and a rise in wind velocity; a falling barometer indicates stormy or rainy weather.
What to do in severe weather:
- Reduce speed, keeping enough power to maintain headway.
- Put on PFDs.
- Turn on running lights.
- Head for the nearest shore or safe harbor that is safe to approach, if possible.
- Head bow of boat into waves at 45-degree angle, if possible.
- Keep bilges free of water.
- Seat passengers on bottom of the boat, near the centerline.
- If the engine fails, tie a sea anchor on a line from the bow of the boat to keep the boat headed into the waves. A bucket will work as a sea anchor in an emergency.
- Anchor the boat, if necessary.
- Seek shelter on-shore whenever possible. Particularly avoid riding out a storm that includes high wind and/or lightning, which is especially dangerous. Avoid contact with metal portions of the boat such as handrails, windshields, tower and cleats.