Every good boater knows that checking the weather before you go boating is the best safety precaution you can take. Having some high tech marine electronics on board helps a lot too. You should always carry a radio (and some spare batteries) that can pick up live feeds from the national and international weather feeds such as NOAA and Sirius XM radio weather, and keep the radio turned on and tuned in.
Having a radio that receives weather feeds is a great start, but if your radio stops working for any reason, it's good to know how to watch for signs of impending bad weather using current local conditions like wind direction, cloud formations, atmospheric pressure and temperature. There are several devices featuring state of the art marine electronics that can help you determine whether to head back to dry land when the wind picks up.
An electronic marine weather station
, such as the Davis 6162 Vantage Pro2 Plus uses solar radiation sensors and can transmit weather data to other vessels within a one thousand foot range. To pick up the signals, a wireless receiver is also available from Davis.
Lightning is one of the worst hazards that can strike mariners, and boats on the open sea are often high risk strike zones. Make sure friends and family know where you are going and if possible keep GPS capable marine electronics on board so you can give people an exact x-y reading if you unexpectedly encounter dangerous weather.
If there is a thunderstorm on the horizon and you are receiving static on your AM radio, or your masthead begins to glow, these are signs you may be in for a serious lightning threat. If there are fewer than 30 seconds between thunder and lightning, the lightning is close enough to hit you.
Sophisticated marine electronics can monitor current weather conditions. A weather station such as the WeatherLink series by Davis, is reasonably priced, retailing for around $165 and lets you create weather watch reports or integrate to your PC for generating graphs and summaries. The Simrad GB40-15 Glass Bridge System is a high end computerized marine navigation system featuring a variety of integrated electronic capabilities, including cartography, an echo sounder, an entertainment system and more. The Simrad Glass Bridge is integrated with the Sirius Radio weather station for real-time satellite weather which is then overlaid onto the Glass Bridge display. It retails for around $5000.
Hobbyist boaters interested in keeping the wind in their sales, might consider an electronic wind speed indicator, such as the Davis Turbo Meter Electronic Wind Speed Indicator, a pocket-sized marine gadget that will tell you in knots, feet or meters per minute exactly how fast the wind is blowing in your sails.
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