Cool temperatures, gentle breezes, sunny skies – the prescription for an enjoyable fall day at sea. We at United-Transport appeal to boaters to pay attention to three pivotal areas. Adjusting one’s own expectations regarding available resources is first on the list. Directly on the heels of that one are boat preparations. Third is personal preparedness.

Recognize that fall’s shorter days and cooler temperatures do present different challenges than spring and summer sailing. Fewer boaters out there in the fall and many places reducing their on-water patrol presence off-season may put your vessel at risk if you normally rely on the safety in numbers. If things really begin to go south for your vessel, a VHF call on channel 16 will connect you to the coast guard directly who can launch a rescue.

Set the accurate expectations for opportunity when out on the water in the fall. A summer routine may put a boat at risk in the fall simply because the days are shorter and night can come before it is expected and before a vessel is ready if proper expectations are not set in the planning.

Short voyages are ideal for the fall and winter months but if a longer one is the desire of your heart, setting off in the pre-dawn can help make a better outing especially as the return journey ends and the wrap-up is not done in the bone-chilling darkness.

Hence, all the more reason for vessel preparedness. Be sure the cell phone and the VHF radio are functioning as expected. Be sure the navigational lights work. Make sure emergency flares are not past their expiration dates. Waterproof flashlights and extra batteries will be useful to unload cargo at the dock, most probably in the dark.

Make sure you know how to use the chart plotter and radar because visibility can become impaired quickly and unexpectedly in the fall. This is true even if you think you know the area where you are.

And do not forget that fuel docks may close earlier or may not be open at all in the fall so assuming the ability to refuel for the return trip can also put a vessel at risk. As a matter of fact, for the sailor who wants to extend the season and enjoy the fall days, and maybe even the few yet wonderful winter days on the water, topping off the fuel tank and water supply at every opportunity is highly recommended because one never knows the conditions one will find at a fueling dock when the weather becomes cold.

The cooler the temperatures the more energy is needed to start a diesel engine so be sure the batteries are in good shape and even taken home to recharge intermittently. If the boat is left floating on salt water, water lines are less likely to freeze but anti-freeze precautions are likely to suffice. In a really cold snap prediction, antifreeze in the main water line can cause the mind.

The last expectation point is to check the weather before leaving and throughout the voyage. Weather conditions on the open sea can change quickly and can become threatening quickly in the fall.

Personal preparedness means bringing rain gear. One is not dressing for the inland warmth but for the cooler temperatures on and in the water. Storms can develop very quickly and unexpectedly on the open sea during the fall so one wants to be prepared. Preparedness also means bringing an extra layer of clothing.

The water temperature decreases every day in the fall so an unexpected fall overboard can create an immediate risk of hypothermia. Children under age 12 must wear a life jacket but adults are strongly encouraged to wear them too in the fall, especially at night. Spend the money for life jackets with lights attached so that rescuers can find that on-board at night. Insulated gear and gear that remains afloat are available.

If the bedding is left onboard for quick departures, mold and mildew can be avoided by using vacuum-sealed bags.

Call us at United Yacht Transport with any question.