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Tips and Ideas for Boating and Storage During the Fall

As the fall months approach, don’t think boating season is over. With the help of Danielle Richards and the rest of the team from Sailing Supply/ Downwind Marina in San Diego, here are some suggestions that will keep you craving the water while its off-season.

Just because boating feels like a summer activity, there is no need to leave it behind as the weather cools down. Extending your boat into the fall season is a great idea and here are some reasons why.

“Wintertime in California is an interesting transition period for many boaters,” said Richards in an email from Sept. 20. “Casual weekenders are probably anchoring out less often as the weather chills, cruisers are in full prep mode to go south, and the local racing scene is starting to ramp up.”

1. Take advantage of the local cruising seminars hosted by Downwind Marine in October.
2. Run through your checklists and make sure you are on track.
3. Do a practice cruise to Catalina.  The water is still warm, and the island has emptied of the summer tourists!
4. If you need to haul out schedule that early!  Parts are still hard to come by and yard schedules are very busy.

1. The busy fall/winter schedule is ramping up!  Set up your calendar now and make sure your crew is lined up.
2.  Great time to get a new racing bottom at your local yard.  New bottom shouldn’t be touched by a diver for at least the first year, so you’ll save on that monthly fee.
3.  Talk to sail lofts, some have fall discount programs.
4. Check with your local yacht club or racing association.  Many run evening seminars in the winter when it gets dark early.
5. Winter storms can surprise the racers too.  Inspect your sheets, halyard, lifelines, follies, bilge pumps, etc. to make sure they can withstand the storms.
6. Towline and dock lines should be inspected, replaced if frayed or worn.

Sailing Supply/ Downwind Marina also has suggestions for boating related activities for those who aren’t out on the water as often during the off season. The casual weekender should take time to prep their boats for periods of less use by:

  1. Properly storing or removing all food, don’t need to invite vermin onboard.
    2. A good engine flush if applicable.
    3. Ensure hatches have good seals to protect from the winter rain storms.
    4. Have a ventilation/dehumidifier set up to keep damp air from settling inside.
    5.  Flush freshwater through the head(s) and sinks to minimize foul drain odors.
    6. Secure all covers, furled sails, etc.
    7. Pick a winter project, maybe you revarnish all the wood, rebuild the head, new running rigging, etc.
    8. Call the diver and put them on a slower schedule. The cooler water slows down bottom growth, so he doesn’t need to be there every month. Depending on how old you bottom paint is he may not need to be there at all!
    9. Check dock lines, replace frayed ones, and make sure you have spring lines set up.

Other Reasons to Stay on The Water:

It’s Quieter

Boating is quieter and less congested in the fall which means launch ramps and marinas are less crowded as are sandbars and anchorages. You might find that you have October and November all to yourself. That being said, it’s extra important that you notify an emergency contact of when you’re departing, where you’re going and when you plan to return home. Less people on the water means less resources if trouble arises.

Cooler Weather Conditions

Although, our Southern California weather doesn’t cool down too much, we do drop down to an average low of 57 degrees, according to Boating into the fall months means enjoying trips in cooler, calmer conditions. No more sweltering heat to take the edge off the enjoyment. So be sure to pack blankets and jackets and maybe even gloves and a hat as it is always cooler on the water. Also be considerate of shorter days and it gets darker much earlier.

More on Winterizing Your Engine

During the colder months, you might not want to take the boat out every weekend as you did during the summer. If that’s the case, you will want to avoid condensation buildup while your boat is resting. Avoid this by topping off the fuel tank and changing the lower unit oil if you haven’t done an annual change. To prevent the accumulation of varnish and gum, add a marine fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank. Be sure to give the engine a quick run for the stabilizer to work throughout the system.

Keep Your Boat Usable

Using your boat year-round keeps your boat in good condition as opposed to letting batteries and flues sit stagnant and go bad. This means there is less maintenance that needs to be done when the summer season approaches.

Leaving SoCal

For the upcoming fall months, everyone’s keeping an eye on their regional foliage tracker. Once peak season sets in, you can expect tons of traffic on area hiking trails and country drives with picturesque views—not exactly the ideal way to appreciate the majesty of fall colors.

Rather than braving the crowds by land, escape them by boat. The water can be the best place to be a leaf peeper this fall. The yellow, orange, and red leaves reflect on the water, and the views are even more spectacular.

Rate Decreases

A great benefit to boating during the off-season is the reduction of moorage rates. Because boat traffic has slowed down, you’ll often find lower prices and more available anchorages. Avalon Harbor started offering a shoulder rate as on Sept. 15. The boater may pay for four nights and get an additional three nights free. Then beginning on Oct. 15, a boater can pay for two nights and get five nights free. These special rates will continue through the winter season until Palm Sunday. Then the harbor returns back into the shoulder season until June 15. Daily rates are consistent through the summer season. Fridays and Saturdays are the peak use of the moorings. However, if you have the luxury of arriving on a Sunday or Monday, you have much better odds of getting the mooring you are looking for.

“Off season is a great opportunity for boaters,” said Avalon Harbor Master Orne Carstarphen. “The summer crowds are gone, and the weather is usually still very nice. Avalon is a year-round destination so Spring and Fall generally have all the amenities that you would find in summer but without the crowds. Off season weather can be tricky at times so always check the forecast before coming to Avalon.”

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