This fall, you do not have to let the cold waters put your boating life in pause. All you need is a set of few additional safety precautions before heading out on the water when the temperatures begin to drop.
Here are a few tips to consider when boating in cooler weather.
Dress in layers.
Clothing is one of the first things you have to think about before spending a day on the water. Layering is a very efficient way of staying warm since each piece of clothing traps a layer of insulating air. Light garments are absolutely comfortable, but they won't be of any help in cold temperatures. You need to cover your whole body well since the temperature in a running boat will be much colder than it would be when it is docked. Consider putting on coverings for your head, neck, ears, and hands to keep you snug. Also, remember to wear waterproof outer layers and gloves for added protection. Once the temperature or your level of activities begin to rise, you can take off a layer and be comfortable again.
Put on your life jacket.
Anything can happen when boating and it is critical to be prepared at all times. A life jacket can literally save your life if the wind or current ever send you into the water.
When the water is cold, you have more reason to wear your life jacket because of the high likelihood of suffering from hypothermia. Wear it properly — a lifejacket is never intended to be worn under other clothing! If you're stuck in the water while waiting for help, a life jacket can keep you warm because it is made of thick insulated material. In more severe cases, a life jacket can allow rescuers to turn you over with your face in an upright position, which enables you to breathe even if you are unconscious.
The United States Coast Guard has requirements for boaters in terms of wearing life jackets. Every boat is required to have enough number of life jackets for each passenger on board. They must be easily accessible and in proper, working condition. If you have children on board, be sure to have life jackets that would fit them.
Pack sufficient amount of food.
When going on a weekend getaway, the last thing you would want is to cook your food while on the boat. So, be sure to have enough food and supplies for everyone on board. Your body gets its fuel from food, which aids in homeostasis, the ability or tendency to maintain internal stability in an organism to compensate for environmental changes. When you're starving, you easily get colder. And besides, no one really enjoys boating on an empty stomach!
Prepare your boat.
The cold weather not only affects your body but your boat as well. Therefore, you should ensure that the fuel tank is full, and boat parts and accessories are properly working — fuel lines, steering cables, batteries, radios, flares, horns, whistles, and other safety equipment.
Have a marine radio handy, which links directly to agencies that can respond to you. Marine radios are far better than cell phones in case of emergency because the radio signal can be traced to locate the boat in distress.
Check the weather.
This is one of the most important parts of your trip preparation — regardless of the time of year, the stretch of the trip and the current water conditions. While it's out of your control, checking the weather is something you can prepare for. The weather condition greatly influences many aspects of boating. For this reason, checking the weather when preparing for your trip is absolutely necessary, whether you're a seasoned boater or a newbie sailor.
The activities you can perform are highly dependent on the weather. Factors like fog, rain, or thunderstorm can affect your visibility and hinder proper navigation. In this regard, have a marine map handy, and if possible, do not get too far from the shore to limit the possibility of getting off course.
Also, if the weather forecast predicts sunny weather, be prepared to have sun protection like sunscreen, sunglasses, caps, or sun visors. By being aware of the weather ahead, you can prepare accordingly.