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.