Fall Boating Tips

New England boaters who stretch their boating season into the fall get rewarded with beautiful autumn colors, crisp days and no crowds. But with shorter days and colder water, fall boating presents unique challenges. Here are some tips to help you be ready for autumn boating.

  • Wear a PFD. Autumn’s cool nights mean cold water temperatures, increasing the risk of hypothermia if you fall overboard. Also, the shock of falling into cold water can claim even strong swimmers. You should always wear a PFD, but it’s especially important in fall.
  • Have Good Lights. With autumn’s shorter days, darkness often sneaks up on boaters. Make sure your navigational lights are working properly, and carry a few waterproof flashlights or headlamps.
  • Check the Weather. Autumn afternoons often bring fast-moving, unexpected storms. Check the weather before you hit the water, and continue checking it while you’re boating to avoid being surprised by a sudden storm.
  • Dress Appropriately. Conditions can change rapidly in the fall. Dress in layers to adapt to temperature fluctuations, and bring rain gear and a change of clothes.
  • Have a Float Plan. Let someone know where you’ll be and when you expect to be back. At this time of year, if you do get in trouble on the water, time is of the essence.
  • Check Your Charts. Come late autumn, some local channel markers and buoys get pulled out. Make sure your electronic and paper charts are up to date so you can use them to navigate.