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Understanding Wave Forecasts


You might be tempted to plan your boat outing based only on the day’s wind and storm forecast, but have you ever noticed that even on a windless day you can get some wave action? If your trip entails going offshore, wind and current that aren't even in your vicinity can affect the size and interval of the waves in your area. Knowing how to interpret wave forecasts is as important to a successful day on the water as your standard weather report.


Wave intervals play a large role in how comfortable and safe you'll feel on your boat when the seas get rough. Here is some basic information to help you understand how the wave height to interval ratio may affect your outing.


Boat in small waves illustration

Waves with long intervals between them generally produce more gentle, sloping waves.



Boat in fast waves illustration

Waves that come in tight intervals create steeper wave action.


Of course, there are no hard rules about what you should do based on the height and intervals of the waves. That depends on the size of your boat, your boating experience, and the level of comfort you and your crew feel when in rough water.

To learn more about how wave intervals can affect your boating experience and for a list of marine weather services that report wave heights and intervals, read this article published by Boating Magazine.


For tips on how to handle your boat if you unexpectedly get caught in rough seas, read more here.