While the nights are drawing in, thoughts tend to turn towards hauling our boats out for the winter.
But if you hang fire, you can enjoy some cracking boating in places which are completely overrun in summer. You’ll have them all to yourself in Autumn and early Winter!
There are a few things worth bearing in mind, however, if you are to enjoy your Autumn boating as much as possible.
1. Get a heater
Some form of a heater is a big advantage. Not only because things are getting colder, but a heater will also dry you and your boat out, reduce condensation and humidity, and overall make life aboard much more tolerable. At the very least, an oil-filled radiator or fan heater that you can plug in while in a marina will let you dry the boat out at the end of a good sail, whatever the weather.
2. Get good clothing
You’ll have much more fun if you’ve got the right clothing. That means a good multi-layer system – lots of thin layers are better than one or two thick sweaters as they trap more air and allow you to better adjust your temperature.
3. Check the forecast
Sailing in Autumn and Winter means you’ll have to pick and choose your weather more carefully than in Summer – at sea during an Autumn gale is no place to be unprepared. But pick your weather right, and you’ll experience lovely sunsets, uncrowded anchorages and a snug, cosy boat.
4. Change to Propane
If cold weather is forecast, consider changing your boat’s gas system over to propane. Butane, which is more common, becomes more and more sluggish as the temperature drops – and can freeze at low temperatures. Propane will work in much colder surroundings.
5. Reef down early
Not only does the wind chill increase in the Autumn, but cold winds have more force than warm winds – so it’s worth being prepared to reef down earlier in Winter.
6. Hot food and drink
Have lots of hot food and drink prepared – think mugs of soup, hot drinks and, if you have an oven, things like Cornish pasties – ready to feed you and your crew. You’ll get tired quicker when it’s colder.
7. Cockpit tent
A cockpit tent will help extend your cruising season. Not only will it give you more living space, especially for wet sails and kitbags, but it allows you to keep the hatches open and circulate air, which will…
8. Minimise condensation
Condensation can make a night on the boat in Autumn miserable, especially when it creates a small microclimate and starts dripping on your sleeping bag.
Keep some air flow through the boat – and a heater on, if possible – to keep it at bay. A dehumidifier running on low throughout the night will keep the worst condensation away.
9. Check your batteries
Sailing in the Autumn will place a greater strain on your batteries – not only do they not like cold weather, especially when cranking the engine, but you’ll be adding greater pressure with lights and heaters. Make sure they’re well charged, and replace them if they’ve seen better days.
10. Check your insurance
Before you head out in the Autumn or Winter, check your insurance to make sure you’re covered to sail outside the summer season. Some insurers ask that you move from an exposed swinging mooring into a marina for the winter. Give Insure4Boats a call today to see what they can do to help!