Georgia Boating Safety Course


CHAPTER 3: Trip Planning and Preparation

CHECK FORECAST AND MONITOR IT WHILE ON THE WATER

It is important to check short-term and long-term local weather forecasts on the radio, TV or Internet before any boating trip. You should always take the weather forecast into consideration when preparing your trip plan. Avoid boating in heavy fog. Be particularly mindful of hurricane warnings and never venture out on the water during a hurricane warning.

 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. Weather Radio broadcasts on the following frequencies:

WX1

WX2

WX3

 162.550 MHz 
162.400 MHz
162.475 MHz

NOAA radio updates weather information such as temperature, humidity, wave conditions, barometric pressure, and wind speed and direction.

NOAA uses the following language to describe severe weather conditions:

Small Craft Advisory

Observed or forecast winds of 18-33 knots (24 to 38 MPH)

 

Gale Warning

Observed or forecast winds of 34-47 knots (39 to 54 MPH)

 

Storm Warning

Observed or forecast winds of 48 knots (55 MPH) or greater

 

Hurricane Warning

Observed or forecast winds of 64 knots (74 MPH) or greater

 

OTHER WARNINGS TO BE WARY OF:

Tropical Storm Warning

observed or forecast winds of 34-64 knots

Special Marine Warning

observed or forecast winds of 34 knots or higher, coupled with a storm to last more than two hours

CHECKING LOCAL WEATHER/WATER CONDITIONS

Weather forecasts, particularly on the water, can change quickly. Therefore, you need to be able to anticipate and monitor changing weather.

  • Keep an eye to the sky: fog, dark clouds, and lightning are obvious indications that bad weather is approaching.
  • Barometric readings: a rising barometer indicates fair weather, while a falling barometer indicates foul weather.
  • Pay particular attention to shifts in wind direction and temperature, which both indicate that weather is changing.
  • Be mindful of the west: foul weather usually approaches out of the west (though storms from the east tend to be more powerful).
  • Be vigilant of other boaters' movements, and monitor radio and weather channels frequently. Ask for recommendations via radio if you are in unfamiliar waters.