what is small craft advisory mean

Small craft advisory

What type of marine vessel is subject to a Small Craft Advisory?

What is Small Craft Advisory Mean?

If you’re into boating or other water sports, you may have heard the term “small craft advisory” at some point. But what does it mean? Put simply, a small craft advisory is a warning that weather conditions may be dangerous for small boats.

What Triggers a Small Craft Advisory?

A small craft advisory may be issued when weather conditions are not severe enough to warrant a full-blown storm warning, but still pose a threat to smaller vessels. Some of the conditions that may trigger a small craft advisory include:

  • Winds of 20 to 33 knots
  • Gusts of 25 to 35 knots
  • Seas of 7 feet or higher
  • Periods of heavy rain or thunderstorms

Why is a Small Craft Advisory Important?

A small craft advisory is not something to take lightly. Small boats are more vulnerable to adverse weather conditions compared to larger vessels. When a small craft advisory is in effect, it means that conditions are dangerous and boaters should take extra precautions. Some of the steps boaters can take include:

  • Stay in port or delay the trip until conditions improve
  • Make sure life jackets are on board and readily accessible
  • Check all safety equipment before leaving the dock
  • Stay informed of weather conditions in case conditions deteriorate


A small craft advisory is a warning that weather conditions may be dangerous for small boats. When a small craft advisory is in effect, boaters should take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Always check weather conditions before heading out on the water and follow the advice of local authorities. Remember: it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

A small craft advisory is an official warning issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are such that small vessels such as recreational boats, canoes and kayaks may become hazardous for inexperienced or unprepared boaters.

The National Weather Service uses the criteria of winds between 20 and 33 knots, or wave heights of at least 3 feet to issue a small craft advisory. Although these may not seem like dangerous conditions, in inexperienced hands they can be very hazardous for smaller vessels that may lack the stability, strength and safety features of larger, more seaworthy vessels.

Boaters should take extreme caution when these advisories are in effect, as unexpected and potentially dangerous waves, winds and weather can quickly become an issue. This is especially true for those who are unprepared and/or inexperienced and find themselves venturing out during such an advisory.

Given the high winds and rough seas, boaters should limit their trips to shorter voyages and closer to shore. Those planning on fishing should stay near the shore or shallow areas and seek out sheltered coves or other areas of protection, as the winds and wave action can make fishing impossible in some areas.

For those who plan to ignore the advisory, extreme caution should be taken. Make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket, have a plan and a know how to get out of dangerous situations. Monitor the weather at all times and be on the lookout for sudden changes. Lastly, never venture out alone and make sure someone knows your planned route and time of return.

In summary, a small craft advisory is issued by the National Weather Service when wind speed and wave heights reach 20 to 33 knots and 3 feet respectively, where such conditions deemed hazardous for small boats and unprepared or inexperienced boaters. Boaters should take this advisory seriously and take extra measures of caution in order to prevent any potential danger they may encounter.

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