Why Weather Apps For Cruisers Are A Must Have
Every boater with a VHF radio is familiar with the NOAA weather frequency. It even has a special button to tune it in.
The information transmitted over your VHF radio is pretty complete and as reliable as anything. It is also the basis for most of the commercial weather reports on TV and radio.
On our coastal cruise we always monitored VHF radio weather reports. But, is there other information out there that can help you plan your cruise? We can say with confidence that there is.
How Weather Apps Enhance Your Understanding
There are many sources for gathering weather data. What I realized when we started cruising is that visualizing weather patterns on the go, both micro and macro levels, was difficult.
Some new weather apps for mobile devices bring all the data to your fingertips in easy to visualize formats. This new capability is a huge enhancement to captains ability to accurately forecast conditions and make good decisions.
There are many apps out there. A simple search for “marine mobile weather apps” will give you many apps to take a look at and see what suits your needs.
I can only talk about the app we relied on for the three months we were on our coastal cruise. It’s called “Windy” and you can see some of the functions offered by this app below:
The version of Windy that we used, and still use, is free. There are upgrades that may be useful if you’re planning longer range cruises. But for port hopping along the coast this free version combined with local news and the weather channel on your VHF was more than adequate.
Here are a couple views of the wind function on the app. But I recommend just downloading the free app and spend a little time playing with it.
As a supplement to the official weather sources this app quickly became an essential planning tool. You can look at current conditions or on a sliding dated scale watch how the weather patterns are evolving.
The visual aspect of the app gave us a much clearer view of what was ahead of us and was very helpful in decision making. We would never go cruising without it.
Check out our recent discussion of mobile navigation apps here.