In forecasts for ‘well offshore,’ how far well offshore?

Dear Tom,
I listen to VHF radio when in Savannah, Georgia, to get weather forecasts for the Atlantic Ocean. They often say waves 2-4 feet near shore and 5-8 feet well offshore. What is considered well offshore?
—William Choy, Chicago
Dear William,
Coastal marine forecasts along the Atlantic Ocean extend 50 miles outward. Wave heights often differ greatly in so large an area. The exact break between near shore and well offshore is at the forecaster’s discretion, but well offshore means near the 50-mile limit. The boundary for the much smaller Great Lakes between near shore and open water is set at five miles. Nearshore marine forecasts from the National Weather Service cover winds, waves and weather out to five miles spanning the next three 12-hour periods. Wave forecasts for the Great Lakes are not broken into near shore and well offshore.
For forecasts along the Atlantic, well offshore means near a 50-mile limit. Wave forecasts for the Great Lakes are not broken into near shore and well offshore.