- Dress for the water, not the weather: Indian summers can bring T-shirt days and downright balmy temperatures but don’t be lured into this false sense of summer. Always bring extra layers and rain gear this time of year.
- Tell a friend: A floatplan could be as simple as letting a family member know where you are going and what time you expect to return, or a more detailed written plan for longer trips, easily left on a windshield, given to a friend, or dropped off at the marina.
- Always check the weather: Living in East Tennessee allows for many different types of weather, and it is hard to argue that September and October are among the most pleasant times of year. But with the change of season brings faster changes in weather, so don’t rely on the weather forecast you got in the morning or the night before. Check weather throughout the day, if you’re within cellular range or have Wi-Fi connectivity. You’ll be texting your friends with pictures of the fish you just caught, so check your weather app at the same time and stay on top of changing conditions.
- Be aware of change in water levels: When boating on lakes and rivers, you’re more likely to encounter lower water levels in the fall. Obstacles and hazards will be exposed or, worse, just under the water where you can’t see them. Keep an eye out for rocks, stumps and sandbars that wouldn’t have been an issue with three more feet of water.
- Always check the boat: With shorter days, it becomes extra important to have your boat’s systems working properly. Be sure to check your boat before you head out. Given that darkness falls early this time of year, make sure your boat’s navigational lights are working properly, check that your emergency flares aren’t past the expiration date, and carry a few waterproof flashlights to help unload passengers and gear at the dock after dark.
There’s no reason not to take the boat out this Fall, but a few tweaks in your boating routine may make all the difference between numb feet and a hot fish dinner at home.