A small craft advisory is a warning of high winds and rough seas for boaters. A small craft is usually defined as a boat under 40 feet, but states like Massachusetts include boats up to 65 feet as small crafts. A small craft advisory is issued when the wind speed is forecasted to be between 21 and 38 miles per hour and is a step below a gale warning.

Regardless of your boat size and experience, you should not go out during a small craft advisory. Wind speed can change at any time and pose a safety risk.


Flags indicating wind warnings

Here are three major wind warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

Small Craft Advisory

  • Winds 21-38 MPH and/or waves over 4 feet
  • Not recommended that vessels under 4o feet operate under these conditions

Gale Warning

  • Winds 39-54 MPH with waves likely over 6 feet
  • No recreational or commercial vessel should be out in these conditions

Storm Warning

  • Winds/sustained gusts over 55 MPH
  • Typically occurs during a Tropical Storm or Hurricane
  • No boats of any kind should operate near the storm


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