ALEXANDRIA, Va., October 16, 2012 -- Itís hard being a boater in the fall. Most of your friends on the water are gone, the days shorter, the waters colder. However, the lack of crowds or better wind in the sails is still appealing to many boaters, anglers and sailors, but safety must be stepped up, says the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. What makes the risk go up and what can you do? Hereís five ways you can easily get in trouble this time of the year.
ē Sunshine isnít your friend: Donít let sunny days deceive you Ė while it may be T-shirt weather in the morning at the launch ramp or dock, weather can change quickly this time of year. Bring extra clothing to dress in layers and always bring foul weather gear.
ē Float your plan: The fishing hole or raft-up spot crowds may be gone, but that also means your closest potential rescuers are also long gone. A simple sharing of your float plan with family members or friends letting them know where youíre going and when you will be back could save valuable time in locating you if something happens.
ē Murphy likes you: Does your boat have any lingering maintenance issues? This isnít the time of the year to find out. Ensure any problems Ė engine, fuel, charging systems, or safety issues such as navigation lights Ė are fixed before you go.
ē Iíve fallen and I canít get up: A simple fall overboard can kill this time of year. Hypothermia is a real threat. By wearing your life jacket, if you do find yourself accidentally over the side you will float and have time to get back aboard, preferably with a knotted or looped rope attached to the gunnel or ladder that be reached from the water. If youíd like to see just how hard it is to get back in a boat, go to www.BoatUS.com/foundation/boardingladders.
ē Donít leave without me: If you are alone and fall out, will the boat keep going? It wonít run away if you had your engine cut-off lanyard attached to you or use another type of shutdown device.