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Boaters who plan to continue boating in northern regions of the country need to consider how quick changes can occur. High winds and heavy rain are common this time of year in many areas, and they can sink a small craft offshore or at dockside. Storms like Matthew can strike from any direction, and a sudden, overnight hard freeze is not unheard of in many northern areas of the country. One overnight frigid blast can ruin the hull, interior and indeed its engines.

Keep in mind there are fewer boats on the water this time of year so before you head out, think about how you can get help if you have a breakdown. Fall BoatingBe sure to advise someone where you’re going, set a time when you expect to return and call them when you arrive ashore.

If you are extending your boating season, take protective actions such as adding additional mooring lines and be sure bilge pumps are working properly. If you need to leave your boat at a moorage, find someone to accept the responsibility to look after it and advise them what to do if bad weather strikes.

If your plans call for cruising to southern regions, it would be wise to call ahead and get updates on conditions. If you are traveling along an ocean route, USCG Notice to Mariners can provide updated chart references. While underway along inland routes, VHF notices are broadcast in most navigable waterways. You will be alerted regarding missing aids to navigation or unmarked hazards such as sandbars or sunken docks.

Never take for granted the route you took last year will be unchanged. There could be unmarked dangers that developed related to storms such as Matthew. Some of the waterways affected by flooding may not even be open to navigation so you will have to carefully plan your trip and make calls to marinas to check for moorage availability.

If you plan to trailer your boat, before you hit the road, take a good look at your trailer. Check the springs, wheel bearings, lights and tires. Check out our blog post “Have a Great Trip” from June 18th, 2015 which provided tips for trailering your boat.

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