Whether you’re headed to the lake for a long weekend of boating fun, or you’re launching your boat for an offshore fishing adventure—whatever the case may be, it can be hard when Mother Nature is uncooperative. Picture this: You wake up in the morning ready to run to your boat after a tough week of work, only to find the weather has changed. The sunny skies the weatherman promised a few days ago are replaced with gloomy clouds. So much for a perfect boating day, right? Well, actually, all is not necessarily lost.
Boating in the rain or in bad weather can be frustrating, but you don’t have to let it ruin your plans. Just follow these simple tips.
1. Monitor the marine weather forecasts.
Just as you check your favorite TV or online forecast before heading out the door for work, you should monitor professional marine forecasts. Make a point of doing so the night before your planned cruise. Do the same while out on the water, too, since things can change rapidly. If your boat doesn’t have a weather radio, you can buy a small, inexpensive one.
Another excellent resource is the National Weather Service’s dedicated marine-weather page. Some weather apps also provide marine forecasts.
2. Boating in the rain is okay.
If it’s only raining, meaning no thunderstorms or strong winds are predicted, you can still boat. In fact, if you’re like those of us who didn’t hesitate to go swimming when it rained when we were kids, half the fun is getting wet. But, if dark, threatening clouds start to build or roll in, head for home. The same is true for lightning.
3. Cloud cover is also okay.
Again, as long as thunderstorms aren’t in the forecast and dark skies aren’t approaching, clouds are no issue. Fishing fans, especially take note: some fish feed in low-light conditions, so you may have a better-than-expected day on the water.
4. Pack for the possibilities.
If you have a cabin aboard your boat, consider keeping a rain jacket or sweatshirt in it, for unexpected weather changes. Have extras on hand for occasional guests and family members as well. Better to have them at the ready if needed rather than everyone feel cold and want to go home.
5. When in doubt, wait it out.
If you’re not comfortable with the weather predictions, don’t try talking yourself into heading out. Better safe than sorry.