Texas lakes are famous for all kinds of unexpected weather conditions. Whether it’s a sudden Thunderstorm roaring in from the west to changing wind patterns from south to north, Texas boaters should check weather forecasts, know their limits and those of their boat and monitor carefully for any sign of bad or changing weather and wind conditions. Safe boating operations begin with weather, and in particular, wind preparation.
Besides following all required passenger safety measures (ie. life jackets, boat capacity limits), being prepared for current and changing weather and wind conditions is one of a boat operator’s primary responsibilities It is important to know about any NOAA wind speed warnings in advance of your outing and to understand what they mean for you as a boat operator.
Here are the NOAA categories for marine wind conditions:
Light Winds – Wind speeds of 1 – 14 knots (1-16 mph or 1-26 km/h)
Moderate Winds – Wind speeds of 15 – 19 knots (17-22 mph or 28-35 km/h)
Strong Winds – Wind speeds of 20 – 33 knots (24-37 mph or 39-54 km/h)
Gale – Wind speeds of 34 – 47 knots (39-54 mph or 63-87 km/h)
Storm – Wind speeds of 48 – 63 knots (55-73 mph or 89-117 km/h)
Knowing the weather and, just importantly knowing your operating limitations and those of your boat based on experience and the boat manufacturer’s recommendations are equally important.
For best wind preparation, subscribing to an on-line wind conditions app like WindAlert.com will help you to know what’s happened and likely going to happen based on real-time weather data reporting and a sophisticated WindAlert Graphical User Interface (GUI)
The GUI shows map, wind direction and velocity details with color coded conditions so you can always know what has happened, is happening and about to happen.
You can also get latest wind conditions and multi-hour/multi-day wind forecasts with the WindAlert app which is supported on Chrome and mobile (ie. Safari and Android) browsers.
Knowing how to work with the wind velocity, direction and the current it produces is important for safe docking maneuvers. Below is a short video demonstrating how to push your boat off from the dock in different wind conditions.
And, here’s a short video describing safe boating operations on the open water during windy lake conditions.
Boating Safety First
Lastly, as the boat operator, it’s your responsibility to have the required, certified safety equipment including life jackets, navigation lights, operating horns and/or notification devices on board at all times. Also, make sure you have a regulation/working marine fire extinguisher , emergency paddle, and first aid kit on board for the boat. Having a Marine Band Radio is also highly recommended. And, don’t forget that life jacket for your Best Dog Friend (BDF) if he happens to come along!!