Smart Boater

Smart Boater: Weather Apps and Services


As a boater, understanding and using weather resources and apps can make all the difference in a safe and comfortable trip. With so many weather apps available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to use. Here are some tips to help you choose the best weather app for your needs.

Weather Apps | credit anyaberkut from Getty Images Pro

Features to Look for in a Weather App

When choosing a weather app, look for multiple-day forecasting in hourly increments, which allows you to plan your departures and arrivals. The app should include wind, waves/swells, ocean currents, tides, water and air temperature, pressure, and lat/long indicators. Additionally, the app should offer more than one weather model for comparison to confirm the data's accuracy.

Paid vs. Free Versions

Most weather apps offer free versions with basic features and limited forecast periods. Paid versions provide more forecasting models, increased resolution, and more frequent model updates. Paid versions also offer the option to stop receiving in-app advertising.

Weather Routers & Services

For boaters looking to cruise around storms or have a multiple-day voyage offshore, a professional weather router or service may be useful. These routers can provide a detailed custom route, offer updates and route changes, and suggest safe ports 24/7 in case of unexpected bad weather, all based on speed, departure and arrival timeframes, as well as the customer’s preferred travel conditions.

Get Educated about Weather & Forecasting

Taking the time to get educated about weather and forecasting can increase your confidence using weather apps and allow you to recognize patterns with different models. Several locations offer online weather courses and in-person training specifically for boaters. Weather classes can be found through BoatUS or in person at many of the boat shows such as TrawlerFest. While these courses will not make you a meteorologist, they will help you learn what to look for and how to apply it to your cruising decisions.

Weather Forecasting Apps & Services

While the list below is nowhere near a complete roster of all applications, the ones below work cross platform and have strong user ratings from boaters.

Weather Apps | credit Daviles from Getty Images


For Apple, Android and PC platforms, this provides detailed wind and wave info and offers a 16-day forecast. Premium and free versions available.


For Apple, Android and PC platforms, this tracks detailed wind, wave, current, radar temp and much more. Select and compare models (ECMWF, GFS, ICOM, HRRR, NAM).


For Apple, Android and PC/Mac platforms, find weather routing and planning tools, forecast alerts, multiple models and features for offshore and global cruising.


For Apple, Android and PC platforms, get radar and weather prediction and hurricane tracking. Simple to use and can set up alerts for bad weather.

The Weather Channel

For Apple, Andriod and PC/Mac platforms, this provides good weather forecasts and alerts, radar, and daily local forecasts based on location tracking.

Weather Routers/Services: For daily weather and custom routing, go to Chris Parker/Marine Weather Center or WRI Weather routing

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