Learn, how to use FCOO Marine Forecast for boating, so you ensure, that you will have a pleasant and safe boating experience.

Weather forecasts for sea are different.

The FCOO Marine Forecast wind direction arrows and wind force colors.
Screenshot of FCOO Marine Forecast, that shows wind direction arrows and wind force colors.

If you have a small to medium sized motorboat, then you should look at the weather forecast before heading out at sea. However, it is not as easy as looking at the default symbols on your smartphone general weather forecast. The reason is, that winds and waves at sea are much different. If you fail to understand, how this works, boating can be unpleasant and even dangerous. A pleasant and safe boating experience relies on wind direction, wind force and land formation.

Which winds are pleasant and safe for boating?

In general, it is pleasant and safe for a small to medium sized motorboat to head out in waters, that are marked as white and light blue on the FCOO Marine Forecast. The average wind speed will be 3 m/s.

However, you often see dark blue as well. This color can indicate slight unpleasant winds and waves. The wind average wind speed will be 5 m/s. You should now look at the wind direction and the land formation: If the wind is blowing away from land, it will be more pleasant and safe. If it is blowing towards land, then boating and anchoring will be more unpleasant and unsafe. Boats in inlets can experience waves with a height of 2 m. If the wind blows towards land and into a bay, where the land formation and sea bottom tightens in, then it will be very unpleasant and it might even be unsafe for boating in dangerous currents. These conditionos can create even larger waves, that breaks.

Other common colors are light green, dark green and sometimes yellow. These colors indicate strong winds with average wind speeds from 7 to 11 m/s. These winds are generally not suitable for pleasant and safe boating. Even for larger boats. However, if your are just cruising along the coast, and the wind direction is directly away from land, it can actually still be plesant and safe for boating. The reason is, that waves are not able to pick up wind energy on such short distance.