Park your boat bow-out to avoid wakes coming over the transom and eventually swamping it. If you do not live near your boat’s dock, ask a neighbor to periodically check on your boat for you. If you have questions or need assistance, call your local Sea Tow Captain.
Be visible at night. Make sure your boat’s navigation lights are in working order and that you have an emergency signaling device such as a spotlight. Also carry flashlights to help while you unload passengers and gear at the dock or boat ramp after dark. Be sure to include spare flashlight batteries and spare navigation light bulbs in your tool kit.
Drive slower at night. Boat navigation lights sometimes blend in with the lights on the shoreline and may not be clearly seen from your point of view; driving slower helps you distinguish those lights and have time to react. Floating objects are hard to see in the water at night, especially when making speed. Have someone on board your boat help to keep a lookout. Two sets of eyes are better than one.
Wear a life jacket. In the autumn, as water temperatures start to fall, boaters who accidentally fall overboard run an increased risk of hypothermia. While children under 13 must wear a life jacket when the boat is underway by federal law, it’s a good idea for adults to wear them too. Buy life jackets with lights attached so rescuers can find you in the water at night. Make sure they fit over bulky “fall layers” such as jackets, sweatshirts, etc.
Always carry a cell phone in addition to the VHF radio in your boat. Be sure your cell phone is charged and that you carry a cell phone charger.
Gas up before you go. Some fuel docks close earlier during the fall season or may not be open at all, especially during the week, although some marinas have 24/7 card-operated gas pumps. Keep your fuel topped off and stabilize the fuel when you put your boat up for the winter.
Bring extra gear. Always have a dry bag with a change of clothes and a sweater or jacket. Wool clothes are best. Hand warmers and foot warmers can also come in handy. Keeping a blanket and a tarp on board helps you protect against the elements.
Keep a “weather eye.” Autumn cold fronts and storms can approach swiftly. Use the free Sea Tow App for smartphones to get up-to-date weather forecasts. The App also lets you call for Sea Tow assistance with the swipe of a finger. To download the App, visit https://www.seatow.com/app.
Mind your impeller. Fall is a great time to go sightseeing by Jet Ski or other personal watercraft, but avoid areas with a heavy floating leaf cover to avoid clogging your impeller. Be sure you carry a cell phone and make sure someone knows you are out and where you are headed. Be aware of the increased risk of hypothermia.
Make sure your Sea Tow Membership is up to date. With fewer boats out in the fall, stranded boaters may not see anyone else on the water for hours. Towing is included in your membership, along with a host of other benefits.