The weather truly matters for boating – whether it’s for safety, sport, or pleasure. What are some tips and tools to use for to help forecast Marine weather?
What are the best tools for marine weather forecasting?
Between apps, maps, and barometric pressure gauges, there are many tools available for weather forecasting among boaters. Maps, gauges, and the Beaufort scales are perhaps the lowest-tech resources available though they always work. Apps are powerful but only work if you aren’t off the grid.
We’ll explain some of the tools and tricks used to safely navigate lakes, oceans, and rivers with a blend of safety, technology, and helpfulness in mind.
For the Weather: Barometers
A barometer measures atmospheric pressure, which is critical while on a boat in potentially unpredictable weather. Looking at the results of a barometer that provides some historical data will give you a good idea of what is coming.
Many barometers also come with wind speed and temperature sensors that indicate whether or not a storm or other systems are coming.
Our Barometer Pick:
While barometers on their own are a great idea, a whole weather station can provide the weather data you need without relying on a phone that may not get a signal in some places.
Weather stations often come with an array of sensors that detect and inform about wind speed, temperature variations, atmospheric pressure, and other data you might want to know on the fly.
Be sure of one thing: Get a weather station made for a boat and ensure that is it waterproof and weatherproof. On a boat, it will likely get splashed at an inopportune moment.
Our Marine Weather Station Pick:
Apps for the Weather
Your phone is a bit of a gold mine when it comes to the ability to collect and process data, and there are many apps out there that can get much of the information you are looking for regarding real time weather updates.
The only issue we have with the idea of using weather apps while out on a lake or ocean is that they don’t always work. While data is generally reliable, issues can happen at the wrong time and you’ll be unable to learn what you need to from radar to steer your way out of trouble.
While we don’t have any specific recommendations, we will name drop a few that boat owners might want to try:
Users of Buoyweather seem to like this app for providing detailed wind forecasts as well as offering easy navigation. As you might expect, the app also has some advanced features that you’ll need a subscription to access.
As the name indicates, Fishweather is primarily designed for knowing the weather for the purpose of catching fish. Users of Fishweather love its use of cold coded wind maps that are easy to read – and best of all, often accurate a couple of days out.
NOAA Marine Weather Forecast
I actually use the NOAA weather app on my phone but haven’t tried the NOAA Marine Weather forecast app.
Coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, this government-made app does well with giving you weather information that is quite up to date. It’s only a couple of dollars, too.
PredictWind does what the name suggests – and it is more for serious sailors who need to know which way winds are coming from, when, and how fast.
The app features a network of more than 20,000 sensors across the world that collect data and help power the app’s predictions. Getting the more detailed reports will cost you a couple of dollars per month, but we think it is well worth it compared to the low resolution forecasts.
United States Coast Guard
Like the NOAA Marine Weather Forecast, this app is made to use government sensors. If you are out on your boat near USCG buoys, these provide excellent information about current weather systems that are near to you. The best news: This is a free app!
While not boating specific, the Weather Channel app is really easy to use and has lots of data with real time radars that can help you greatly so long as you have a data connection to work with. This is the same basic app you can use to see the weather at home, too.
The app you choose depends on what you need. In addition to a boat tool kit, having data like wind speed which these apps often provide is great to have while out on the water.
Why do I need forecasting tools or weather equipment?
Knowing what the weather is going to be like is one of the most important pieces of knowledge you can have in boating. Especially when you go out on a pontoon boat with the family, you’ll want to avoid doing so in weather conditions that aren’t really friendly.
The idea behind having weather equipment on a boat is to gather data from afar about information that most of us can’t see with our eyes.
While you can feel the wind blowing on your face, it takes years and years of knowledge to predict when that is going to change. Having weather data before you even go out on your boat is even more helpful to keep you better prepared for most anything.
While having a boat tool kit on hand is great, having the information to make decisions about what to do is even more important to prevent issues from happening.
Given the conflicts of ever changing weather systems – and in some cases, your experience and comfortability sailing or fishing in weather that seems nerve wracking, having a digital companion with you that helps you interpret issues is a great idea if you aren’t sure of yourself yet.
A few tips for the weather
We have a few suggestions for you if you plan to go boating and bad weather is potentially on the radar.
Use your radio for a weather scanner
In addition to the basics of a weather app and a weather station, using a simple radio tuned in to local weather can be very helpful, especially if you don’t want to check your phone or wait for the station constantly. A radio is also decidedly low tech and will just about always be working properly.
Get good quality tools
Generally speaking, not every tool that goes into your garage belongs on a boat. Get tools that work well in the wet and rain and won’t corrode when splashed repeatedly.
Water resistant tools are certainly necessary on a boat so that a wrench set doesn’t have the locking mechanism frozen shut because of rust.
Trust your instincts
A better way of saying this might be “know your boat”. The marine environment can change rapidly. If you think that there are previous issues with your boat that might leave you stranded in the event of bad weather, we suggest you get to the shore or just don’t go any further. While even a marine tool kit and lifejackets can be helpful, it’s obviously best to avoid situations where you’ll need them, especially if you feel unprepared for the purpose.
Essential tools and tips for boaters
We’ll review a few tips , tricks, and tools that will help keep you at least in the know out on the water, especially if you’re boating on rough waters.
Boat Tool Kit
This might sound very basic as a tool, but a boat tool kit will be extremely helpful to you in the event that the weather suddenly changes or you need help that apps, gauges, and meters can no longer be provided.
While a boat tool kit is good for everyday use, you’ll be thankful you have one when things go bad. Here are a few boat tool kit essentials that are great for emergency situations:
Spark plugs and fuses
These are very important because plugs can easily blow at the worst moment, leaving you in the dark or worse, leaving you unable to start your boat motor.
You’ll also want a spark plug wrench because typical wrenches or your fingers aren’t exactly designed to remove these.
A jumper pack attached to them would be nice too. This is just in case you lose power while out on the water, or someone else happens to need help. With their being more and more boat electronics, a power outage could be a really big problem.
Our top pick:
That person who told you that having a pocket knife or multi tool with you at all times probably also had a boat. Multi-tools are great for having a compact way to carry anything from needle nose pliers to a knife for cutting duct tape. These save space, too.
Our top pick:
Although you are literally on a body of water, a moisture meter is a good way to find the source of a leak.
Our top pick:
Electrical tape and duct tape
Again, this seems very basic, but at some point, while fighting through a potential storm, a variety of tapes will be very helpful in repairing devices or just holding things down.
Wire and hose clamps
You’ll inevitably experience the failure of a clamp while on the seas. Having a selection of hose clamps available to quickly restore the power of pumps and other boat equipment will seem like a very good idea when it happens.
If it seems odd to bring a fire extinguisher on a boat, believe us, it’s not. A fire extinguisher is a necessity in every boat in case something like the engine catches on fire and you want to prevent further damage or injury.
Wire cutters and a wire stripper
Boats have lots of wires to help control and communicate. The ability to strip wires for radio when needed is great – be sure you know what you are going through before you further disable something.
Our top pick:
A tool kit with boat tools will often come in a pre-assembled bag. We would advise you to carefully check the contents of the bag and add whatever else you think you might need to it, including cable ties, a rigging knife, and electrical tape. If you aren’t actually fishing, the fishing line might still be an appropriate thing to bring in order to tie up something small.
- There are many apps, tools, and devices that can readily help you navigate the weather
- Knowledge of the weather is rather important for sailing or just general boating
- We suggest some weather apps that show wind speeds as well as a weather station
- You should also keep a tool kit in your boat for the purpose of general and emergency repairs
- Your best friend is planning and looking at what the weather will be like