When out on the water, wind is one of the major factors that can be the difference between a smooth ride and a bone jarring journey. Strong wind in open bodies of water can kick up large waves that can capsize boats. Even if small bodies of water like a lake, wind can cause navigation problems and cause your boat to drift if the boat is not moving and not anchored. At the dock, strong winds can make it difficult to secure your boat to the dock or cause you to hit other boats, potentially costing you a lot of money.
All of these issues can be avoided if you check the forecast and do not go out if strong winds or other bad weather is predicted. If you operate a boat under 40 feet, you should not go out if the winds exceed 20 MPH. For smaller boats under 25 feet, winds over 15 MPH may be dangerous. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Additionally, just because the winds may not be strong does not mean waves will not be large. While wind is a major factor in wave height, other factors like currents can cause large waves to form. Also, a major storm like a hurricane can cause huge waves in your area even if the hurricane itself is hundreds of mile away.
Another factor to consider is wind direction. Let’s say, for example, that you are boating close to shore and land is to your north. If the wind is coming from the north, there will likely be calm waves where you are because the wind is coming from over land and does not have water to start making waves because you are close to shore. However, if the wind is coming from the south, there will be waves because there is nothing obstructing the wind. So, remember that the waves will be calmer if there is land obstructing the wind. Now, if you are miles from shore, it will not matter where the wind is coming from because there is nothing to block it.
For more information about weather and boating, check my blog post here