Many recreational boaters think that the back to school season is a signal that another summer has passed them by. With gloomy expressions, they face the unhappy task of winterizing and storing the boat for one more year. But it doesn’t have to be that way at all!
If you live in an area that truly experiences all four seasons, you may be missing out on some of the best boating to be had. Autumn can be a wonderful time to enjoy your waterways at a more relaxed pace. It can be a time for peace and quiet and stocking up on some well-deserved solitude.
In many parts of the country, the autumn months usher in a time of much reduced water traffic. Not only does this mean you can get in some quiet cruising, but it also translates into discounted fees on many boating services.
Since the majority of watercraft owners have had their vessel pulled out of the water and stored for the colder months, you can avail yourself of some of the best marina slips and boat anchorages. Many marinas also offer discounts at this time of the year. You can enjoy the reduced traffic at waterside restaurants, waterside museums and attractions, and docking at towns that are geared to welcome boaters.
You can have an unparalleled, up-close view of the foliage changing into its colorful fall wardrobe, and an improved chance of spotting wildlife that will be out and about stocking up on calories for the winter months.
To successfully boat in the autumn months, you need to do some planning. You’ll need to bring along gloves, hats, earmuffs and jackets for unexpected temperature drops. Some rain gear (at least a poncho) will come in handy for a quick rain shower. If you’re planning on being out all day, or overnight, a sleeping bag or a couple of extra blankets will make for a more comfortable trip.
If you feel the need to winterize your heating/cooling systems, a small space heater can really provide a toasty respite to the chilly above deck activities. Some warm food and drink packed in a couple of thermoses will really hit the spot after a few hours of chilly breezes and rosy cheeks.
Be sure to keep an extra vigilant eye on the weather forecast! You don’t want a relaxing day on the water to turn into an uncomfortable, anxiety inducing retreat to the dock because of a downpour or squall blowing in. That being said, there are many parts of the country where the cool fall air actually prevents a normal occurrence of fog, so boating conditions can be quite good.
Another issue to be on the lookout for is low water levels in some areas. Some states rely heavily on reservoir water during the long summer, so by fall, shallow places may appear in the form of sand bars, rocks and tree stumps. Your state may provide a website that lists water levels for frequently travelled lakes and rivers. You can also check with a park ranger if traveling in a state or national park.
With some advance preparation you can really enjoy the autumn season aboard your boat, while the landlubbers look on with a yearning in their hearts!