Weather and Tides
Much like a person operating a vehicle in a snowstorm, boaters need to know how to handle their watercraft in a variety of situations. The necessity to operate a boat during rough conditions is something many boaters have or will experience at some point in their lifetime, though the type of challenging conditions you encounter will largely depend on where you are boating.
To really understand how weather affects the areas in which you will be boating, seek out locals who have experienced the water in the area before in multiple conditions. The more experience the better. Additionally, cruising guides and Coast Pilots can provide valuable information and are readily available online and in ship stores for many areas. Additional tips for safely boating during various weather conditions rely largely upon understanding the way the water moves and responds by observing it yourself. Watch where the waves are breaking. Are they breaking near jetties or shoals, far out in the channel? Watch the entrance and observe how the wave patterns are affected. Some entrances, those with jetties, might have waves pushing back across the entrance where they merge with the original waves. Entrances might also have an outer bar that breaks once, then further in might result in additional breaks. Observing these things will help to prepare you for the water in normal weather, and observing them during other weather can help you to see how things change with the wind and the tide. If you don't have the opportunity to observe the water in bad weather before finding yourself in a situation where you need to navigate it, make sure you at least anticipate the changes that might result based upon the things you have observed in optimal conditions.