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Discussion Starter #1
What do you guys do to mitigate the risk of forecast isolated thunderstorms when out fishing? Do you just stay within x miles or minutes of the marina and keep a close eye on the weather and play it by ear? Cancel the whole trip, or just plan on running out of their way and maximizing fishing time? The wunderground forecast was calling for a good chance of showers and thunderstorms all weekend but the weather radar showed they were dead wrong for almost all of saturday and a good bit of sunday. Got some stuff taken care of and hit the beer fest sunday so it wasn't a total loss but every day counts on these short snapper seasons. Any general rules of thumb you guys use?
 

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I use to keep fishing unless it was to close, but after getting hit by lightning the day before hurricane Dennis now I RUN, it scares the hell out of me!
 

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I don't put much stock in the forecast. I do keep a close eye on the radar though and if they do start building I'm outta there.
 

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Master of Disaster
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I say "Better Safe Than Crispy" ...or on the bottom. OMHO, depends on what you are in, and where you are running and what the forecast is calling for. Like the past several days, I just bail on any chance of an offshore trip. No sense in chancing big problems very far out. Especially in a bay boat.
Inshore- as long as I could see a decent window of opportunity and my target area is not too far away from the ramp- I might try it as long as things didn't start looking bad.
An any case... I ALWAYS keep a weather eye out!
Anyway- take the advice here, but always stay within your "comfort" zone. If you are not sure- better to stay home than loose the bet and end up :hurt:
 

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XM weather is the way to go. There is a little delay on the radar, however I can't tell you how many days i have been way offshore and either been able to stay and continue fishing, move and fish elsewhere, or know when it's time to go in thanks to the XM feed. You can watch the cells and it will actually give you info on each cell, specifically direction the cell is headed and how intense it is. XM, couple with my Garmin radar, let's me know exactly what I need to do to be safe.


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XM weather is the way to go. There is a little delay on the radar, however I can't tell you how many days i have been way offshore and either been able to stay and continue fishing, move and fish elsewhere, or know when it's time to go in thanks to the XM feed. You can watch the cells and it will actually give you info on each cell, specifically direction the cell is headed and how intense it is. XM, couple with my Garmin radar, let's me know exactly what I need to do to be safe.


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I like it- and a great asset. Just not affordable for some of the recreational anglers.
 

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We went out yesterday on a east run. We were roughly 23 miles southeast of the Pensacola pass. I started hearing the thunder to the north. I turned my radar on and watched those storm cells moving southeast. I headed southwest to stay on the outskirts of them. We sat out near the Navy YDT for about 1.5 hours until it rained it's self out. We headed north in some of the smoothest seas I have ever seen in the gulf. Radar is your friend this time of year.
 

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We went out yesterday on a east run. We were roughly 23 miles southeast of the Pensacola pass. I started hearing the thunder to the north. I turned my radar on and watched those storm cells moving southeast. I headed southwest to stay on the outskirts of them. We sat out near the Navy YDT for about 1.5 hours until it rained it's self out. We headed north in some of the smoothest seas I have ever seen in the gulf. Radar is your friend this time of year.
Indeed, learn to read your radar and know your distance rings. Can't believe I fished offshore without radar, AP, and a windlass.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
What quality difference do you see between using your onboard radar vs a smartphone app?
And what's the best way to add wx radar to a boat on a budget? I'd love to get a radar system but all my upgrade money is going to engine repairs now.
 

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A smartphone app like MyRadar is only as good as your cell signal, which begins to fade the further you go offshore.

Sirius/XM weather requires a different antenna than your GPS antenna. And your plotter or screen must be compatible to take Sirius/XM weather. If memory serves me correctly, the Lowrance antenna was about the least expensive. NMEA connections are needed to get the data to your plotter so installation by a pro may be needed (I struggled getting the picture). All these plus a subscription do add up.

MyRadar app on my smartphone is clearer than the Sirius/XM on my Garmin, but it is essentially the same picture. I can also see what storm cells have lightning in them...something I do like. Direction of storms isn't as evident on my Garmin as on the app, but it is apparent.

With Sirius/XM weather I can see the storms that are out of the range of my onboard Furuno radar, and plan accordingly. Very comforting when 50 miles offshore.
 

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I'd love the Sirius/XM option to complement my radar. But if I had to pick between the 2 it would have to be radar.

Radar sees other boats and obstacles, birds, shorelines, and of course storms. And if you add the cost of the gear and Sirius subscription, a baseline radar system would cost about the same.

Garmin GX 53 Receiver $799.00
Sirius XM package 29.99 / mo or $360/yr
Installation? Figure 4 hours at 100 per = $400
Total: $1,559 first year

Or
Garmin Radar HD 18 PLUS Garmin 741xs bundle
$1,699 (sale at West Marine)

If you already have a compatible Garmin unit then the HD18 radar dome is $1,299
These are West Marine prices for comparison, better deals can be found.

So, I'd go radar if choosing betwixt.
 

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X3 on Sirius XM weather subscription and a quality onboard radar system. If you are serious about offshore fishing year round, you need to have these on your vessel. Bottom line is Safety First. Personally I have a 12 mile safety range that I set between me and any lighting/storm cell around me. A radar app on a smartphone is a viable alternative if you are within cell range, just remember that if your running to shore to get out/thru a storm cell, a phone app isn't going to show you the other guys running to shore at the same time. Several boaters converging at a pass in low visibility conditions can be very dangerous. You slways have to assume that they don't see you either visually or electronically. Stay safe.
 

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Spend the money on the Sirius XM Weather. Best thing I have on my boat. It has saved us a million times. I will never have another boat without it
 

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Being offshore with a storm, lots of directions to run, but then again, how fast and how far can you run to avoid the threat, but are you putting yourself in a more dangerous situation? You won’t find calm seas when you try to outrun a storm if it’s close, so your speed will be limited. We only have 3 inlets with Destin, Pensacola and Orange Beach, we don’t have many escape routes back onshore. And like others said, everyone else will be converging at high speed in bad conditions on the same inlet.
Inshore, lots more boat ramps, docks, beaches, etc. that I would consider as an escape if trapped by a storm, I would rather take my chances on a beach than staying in a boat.
The difference between a thunderstorm and a rain shower? Yep, one bolt of lightning. I would bet on any rainshower having the ability to generate lightning in our area, especially in hot weather, and no weather app or radar is going to predict that for you.
What a lightning strike does to you or anyone else on a boat is unknown, but it will be something to regret. Most of us don’t have boats large enough to consider an up close thunderstorm encounter.
Even though snapper season is limited, please don’t let it “cloud” your judgement and safety by taking unnecessary risks, you can always buy some seafood somewhere. Live to fish another day.

Here is a decent article about lightning and boats.
https://www.boatingmag.com/surviving-lightning-strikes-while-boating-0
 

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XM and radar are hugely beneficial tools, but as I told my son and his buddies once, (it might have been about discretionary driving after knocking back a few), in the end there is no substitute for skill and knowledge.
 

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We evicted the storm two more times from the hand of the hurricane. But the last time we lost our partner for an hour, and after that, we don't go fishing from six months and mind don't want to stay more.
So be careful at the time of thunderstorm.
 
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