- Don’t Trust Your Fuel Gauge! Closely monitor your boat’s fuel level, and make sure you have more than enough on board at the start of every outing on the lake. “We do a lot of fuel drops, because boaters put too much trust in their fuel gauges,” Capt. Rick warns. “A lot of times, they think they have plenty of fuel but when we get to them, we discover their tank is empty.” Topping off the tank may be more difficult than in the summer months, however, because some marinas open only for limited hours, or just on weekends – and in a few weeks, they may start closing for the season altogether. “Some have card-operated fuel pumps and some do not,” Capt. Rick added.
- Watch the Clock. During Autumn’s shorter days, darkness may catch boaters out on the lake unaware. It’s best to do your boating in the morning and early afternoon, although even that won’t guarantee you’ll be back at the dock before dusk. “If you run out of fuel or break down, you may find yourself still out on the lake when it starts getting dark,” said Capt. Rick. “Be sure to have a fully charged cell phone with you – and a charger – in case of emergencies."
- Beware Hypothermia. Wear warm clothes and bring extra layers along when you are boating in the autumn, when the air temperature falls rapidly. It’s the colder water temperatures you really have to watch out for, however. “The water is 63 degrees in Smith Mountain Lake now, and dropping,” Capt. Rick advised. “If you go into the water accidentally, you can run the risk of hypothermia. Make sure you have a way to get out of the water and back onboard the boat, such as a boarding ladder you can deploy from the water.”
Don’t forget that your Sea Tow Lake Card Card Member Benefits have been expanded to include all freshwater bodies of water throughout the United States. Previously the Lake Card was valid on a single inland lake, but now you can take your boat leaf-peeping on lakes and rivers other than your own, and still enjoy the Peace of Mind on the Water that Sea Tow Membership brings. For more information about the Sea Tow Lake Card visit www.seatow.com/membership/lake-card.