Get our top tips for safe late-season outings on your Boston Whaler
If you’re like most boaters, it’s hard to put your boat away for the season. But there’s no reason why you can’t take your Conquest Pilothouse or any other Boston Whaler model out for another spin before winter sets in. As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, it’s important to keep a few things in mind so you can stay safe well into fall. Check out these dozen tips for boating in cold weather. Then, boldly point your Boston Whaler bow to the horizon and head out.
Get a good weather forecast but don’t look too far ahead
Shoulder season storms come on quickly and can be much more volatile than summer squalls. Check the weather throughout a day of fishing too, just in case there’s an unexpected change brewing.
Always file a float plan
You can file an official plan with a towing service like Sea Tow or Boat US, or just tell someone you know where you’re going and when to expect you back. Be sure to notify your people/service when you return/arrive so they don’t start searching for you even as you’re back.
Don’t let the sunset sneak up on you
Remember shorter days and longer nights start to creep up during the autumn season. If you have a long trip planned, break it up into shorter legs so you can arrive everywhere by daylight.
You’re more likely to encounter lower water levels in the fall. Keep an eye out for rocks, stumps and sandbars that wouldn’t have been an issue with three more feet of water. Obstacles and hazards will be exposed, or worse, will be just under the water where you can’t see them in the dark.
Check your cold weather safety boating gear before you go
Have signaling devices such as flares, a mirror, a whistle and also enough PFDs for everyone aboard. Check the flares for expiration dates and make sure everyone knows where the emergency equipment is kept and how to use it.
Check up on your systems
Your batteries and fuel tanks should be topped up, your engine(s) should be in good working order and your running lights should shine bright. Again, the days are shorter and if something goes wrong, there’s less time for assistance to reach you. Downloading the MyWhaler mobile app can put these vital systems in the palm of your hand.
Have your communications devices working
Test the fixed VHF radio on your Boston Whaler. If you’re going coastal hopping, add a handheld VHF and a cellphone. If you’re boating in a remote area, consider a satellite tracking device like Spot or InReach that communicates your lat/lon position and allows you to send limited messages. Bring a dry bag to keep these electronics safe.
Gear up from head to toe
Summer T-shirts and ball caps have no place aboard when boating in cold weather. Bring along woolen hats, socks and gloves. Pack a windproof and waterproof jacket, a long-sleeved fleece and quick-drying layers. A change of footwear will be welcome in case one pair gets drenched while you’re out fishing. Pack non-summer items such as a sleeping bag for the night, a trap to keep the cockpit dry, extra headlamps for more hours of darkness, and extra water to heat up for drinks or washing.
Bring different food and drinks
A long night of fishing will require hot liquids in a thermos – think coffee, soup, hot chocolate, etc. If you’re staying aboard your Boston Whaler Conquest Pilothouse with a cozy cabin and a galley, bring ready-meals that can make a hot breakfast like instant oatmeal or a heat-up stew for dinner.
Never overload the boat
You don’t want someone falling overboard into frigid water. Boat sober because alcohol not only impairs judgement, it can bring on hypothermia. There’s plenty of time for a cocktail once the anchor’s down or you’re tied up in a slip.
Don’t boat alone
The buddy system is always a good idea but when boating in cold weather, it’s imperative that you bring a friend to help in case something goes wrong and you need a hand.
Fall weather can be deceiving. A calm sunny afternoon can turn on a dime to a nasty cold rain so be vigilant. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to quickly change your destination, plan or approach and that means there’s no reason not to extend your Boston Whaler boating season well into fall and beyond.
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