Boating – Spring Time Dangers – Wind

Spring time brings on some special challenges to boaters. In addition to hazards which occur with melting ice, the dramatic differences in water temperature and land temperature can create high wind conditions on and around bodies of water.

Dangerously high winds may have sent seven boaters in Titusville, Florida on a wild ride. Their boat capsized, and a Good Samaritan helped pull them out for an amazing rescue. There were no injuries.

The boaters say the wind was a major factor because the swells were too much for their boat to handle. “The waters were just way too rough out there. We went out there we had a family reunion going on. As soon as we turned the corner, the wind picked up and just overcapped my boat,” said David Lietz, the boat operator. “Once the water filled in, the boat started tipping sideways.”

There was a small-craft advisory for the offshore waters Saturday. Weather Experts said the winds may have been as much as 40 mph when the boat capsized.

You should never leave the dock without first checking the local weather forecast. Checking the weather prior to leaving the dock is just as important in planning your trip as checking for fuel and required equipment. Special attention to weather and weather indicators can make the difference in a pleasant day on the water and potential disaster.

As Skipper, it is your sole responsibility to determine when to cancel or alter your trip.

The following table represents the National Weather Service Storm Advisories used to warn boaters of potential hazards.

National Weather Service Storm  Advisories
Small Craft Advisory
Winds up to 38 mph
Gale  Warning
38-54 mph
Storm Warning
Up to 73 mph
Hurricane Warning
Winds over 74 mph
One triangular orange flag 2 triangular orange flags 1 rectangular flag with a black square in the middle 2 rectangular flags with black squares in the middle
red light over white light white light over red light 2 red lights, one over the other red light over white light over red light

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY: An advisory issued by coastal and Great Lakes Weather Forecast Offices for areas included in the Coastal Waters Forecast or Nearshore Marine Forecast. Thresholds governing the issuance of small craft advisories are specific to geographic areas. A Small Craft Advisory may also be issued when sea or lake ice exists that could be hazardous to small boats. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft. That could include boats as big as 65 feet. Other considerations include the experience of the vessel operator, and the type, overall size, and sea worthiness of the vessel.

GALE WARNING: To indicate winds within the range of 38 to 54 MPH are forecast for the area.

STORM WARNING: To indicate winds up to 73 mph. However, if the winds are associated with a tropical cyclone (hurricane), the STORM WARNING indicates that winds within the range 55-73 MPH are forecast.

HURRICANE WARNING: Issued only in connection with a tropical cyclone (hurricane) to indicate that winds 74 MPH and above are forecast for the area.

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating Safety, The Boating Environment

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