In the later boating season, weather can change rapidly with the mixing of warm and cold air. Bad weather and the resulting wave conditions often play a part in boating incidents so check the latest weather conditions and local forecasts before you go and be sure you understand how those conditions will affect your trip. Visibility can be limited due to fog that is common at this time of year. Should you find yourself in a fog bank, be sure to proceed slowly and sound your horn at regular intervals to alert other boaters of your presence. Check with local people who know the area well to find out what weather conditions you can really expect.
You can get up to the hour and long range weather forecasts from the radio or television and if you have a marine radio, you can get marine forecasts several times a day listing local weather, wind speeds and direction, wave height, visibility and temperature. If high wind speeds are expected, Environment Canada will issue the following wind warnings:
- STRONG WIND WARNING – 20 to 33 knots (37 – 61 km/hr)
- GALE WARNING – 34 to 47 knots (62 – 87 km/hr)
- STORM WARNING – 48 to 63 knots (88 – 117 km/hr)
- HURRICANE FORCE WIND WARNING – 64 knots or greater (118 km/hr or more)
Note: 1 knot = 1 nautical mile/hr or 1.85 km/hr
Environment Canada’s Weather Radio Services are available 24 hours a day in some areas on the VHF-FM radio band so you will need a Weather Radio receiver or VHF radio. For more information go to Environment Canada Services. Canadian Coast Guard also offers continuous forecast on the VHF marine weather channels. Contact Environment Canada for a complete list of weather services across Canada or go to www.weatheroffice.gc.ca.
While on the water when you are stretching your season, always keep an eye on the sky and check up to date nautical charts for spots that can provide safe shelter. If you see clouds starting to darken and things changing quickly, then head for shore.