Top Boat Safety Tips For Fall

Boats on water with fall foliageThere’s nothing quite like setting sail on a beautiful fall day and enjoying the changing colors from the open water. But there are a few key things to keep in mind before you get in your boat this autumn. Here are some tips courtesy of Beth Leonard, director of technical services for BoatU.S.

Dress for the Weather

“In the fall, hypothermia can be a big hazard to boaters, especially if they get wet,” Leonard says. She advises dressing in layers, starting with a thin base layer, and avoiding things like jeans and cotton shirts, which do not dry as easily or retain heat as well as wool and synthetic materials. It’s also a good idea to bring along a separate bag of heavier clothing in case bad weather hits.

Plan Ahead

It’s vital to prepare a float plan and leave it with a friend or family member before you hit the water. “Float plans, like flight plans for planes, provide a record of where you intend to go and when you intend to return,” Leonard explains. “They ensure that someone will realize and begin a search immediately if you are overdue, but they also narrow the potential search area and increase the chances of locating you in a timely fashion.” Not sure how to prepare one? Here’s a handy float plan template.

Do a Systems Check

Leonard advises checking all boat systems before your voyage—especially during the fall, when there are fewer boaters on the water to help if you run into trouble.

On inboard boats, check all fluid levels and have a look at the bilge to make sure water isn’t getting in. It’s also worth checking the engine belts and making sure that water is coming out of the exhaust and the batteries are charging when you start the engine.

On trailerable boats, be sure to check the steering before the boat leaves the ramp. Check the fuel before you get on the water and check the drain plug once you’ve launched. Also make sure the engine is running properly and allowing water to pass through.

Be sure your navigation lights are working properly if you’ll be out after dark, and carry a handheld radio with digital selective calling (DSC) so you can send a distress signal to the Coast Guard if you run into trouble.

If you’re going more than 20 miles offshore, bring a personal locator beacon (PLB) or an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). Either of those will allow you to be located by satellite in the event of an emergency.

Finally, make sure you have the right type and size of life jackets for everyone aboard. Once you’ve checked off all the boxes, you’re ready to set sail. Bon voyage!

Taking proper steps before heading out on the water also means selecting the right kind of boat insurance for your needs. Find out how GEICO can help meet your needs, no matter what kind of boat you own.

Continue reading: Tips for Safe Boating

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  1. Scott says

    Very insightful article. I like that you point out that it is important to dress for the weather. It would be a pretty sad thing to be out on the lake and have a rain storm come from no where and have no protective clothing. My dad is thinking about buying a boat for next summer. He should definitely read these things before heading out to the lake.

  2. Stewart Boomer says

    Thanks for walking through some of the steps to being safe while boating in the fall. Where I live, it tends to get cold a little earlier, so it’s nice to know that there I ways I can prepare my boat if I still want to go out – for example, I’d never thought to check on the steering before I launch. But it makes a ton of sense! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Andre Beluchi says

    Oh, those sure are some beautiful boats right there in the pictures. Those boats remind me of the ones that my father showed me at a certain boat sales event. The event itself was amazing because we got to see the variety of boats that were displayed.

  4. Adam Waddy says

    After reading your article, I really want to find a boat to go fishing with family.
    Nice blog. It’s very informative to read. Thanks for tips.

  5. Raylin Sutter says

    I love boating and actually just found a really nice boat for sale. I couldn’t find the one that I wanted before summer started and so I decided to wait it out. However, now that it is fall I would still like to go out for some fishing with my family. What are some of the hazards faced by those who are out on the water during the Fall? I would like to be prepared for that.