In the fall boaters often let their guard down, though safety becomes an even greater challenge. Below the keel, water temperatures have dropped and falling overboard can be a big problem. Here are a few tips from BoatUS to consider this time of year.
1. Create a float plan and let people know when you are leaving and when you return.
2. Always wear a life jacket.
3. Be aware that with temperature fluctuations, fog takes only a short time to appear.
4. Check your communications gear, including the VHF radio and its connections. If it is a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF, connect the radio to your GPS/chartplotter and have your MMSI number. Handheld VHFs should be charged, and remember that cell phones don't last long when running apps.
5. Layer up and be prepared for weather swings. A short rainsquall and temperature drop with clouds in the afternoon can cause hypothermia.
The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. (www.BoatUS.com/foundation)