Autumn is actually a great time to get out on your boat. The weather can be spectacular this time of year: crisp and cool with excellent visibility and reduced chance of storms. The still-warm ocean will also keep the air temperature up until the onset of regular overnight frost. And the summer crowds have abated, so you get more elbow room to enjoy the great boating weather through most of October.
So what to do in the fall? There’s plenty.
- Sterngating the game.
If you were going to Foxboro, you’d plan for some tailgating fun, right? Plan the cookout, take all your friends, crank up the tunes and have a great afternoon.
You can do the same on your boat. Dig out your stern-rail barbecue, get the burgers and franks ready, add some salads and sides, make sure the cooler is full of beverages and find a place to anchor and grill just before kickoff. (You can watch the game on your TV, listen to the radio or livestream the action on your phone or tablet).
It’s even more fun if you get a few other boaters to join the fun: create an anchored flotilla, pass out food assignments to all the other captains, and make it a real party!
- Leaf peeping
This is a traditional autumn activity for landlubbers: driving around and looking at Mother Nature’s amazing technicolor change of colors. You could join the line of cars heading up to New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine, or, better yet, take you boat out and admire the local colors.
There are some great places close to home that still offer wonderful colors. Try cruising up the South River near Marshfield, which wends its way through some beautiful forested land. Cohasset harbor is lovely in the fall as is the Black Bank Channel down on the Cape near Barnstable. You’ll find plenty of great color onshore, along with places to throw out the hook and enjoy a peaceful picnic in the autumn sun.
- Fall fishing
Yes, the fish are still biting now that the weather has cooled. In fact, some species are in prime time as they begin to bulk up for the winter ahead.
You’ll find the tautog bite active in the fall. Look for underwater structures that they love to hang in.
Also hot in the fall are striped bass, fake albacore and bluefish. Find the baitfish that they are chasing and put one on a hook. They’ll bite!
- Bird watching
It’s moving season for our feathered friends. The warm weather birds are heading south to their Florida condos, while the cold weather birds are finding their winter homes in our coves, marshes and swamps.
This is the time of year to have your binoculars at the ready, along with your favorite bird guidebook. Help your kids start a birding book by listing the different species they encounter on an afternoon in your boat.
- Seamanship practice
OK, this idea sounds weird, but it actually makes sense.
Every captain has some skills that need practice or rehearsal to improve one’s skills at the helm. Maybe it’s pulling into and out of slips in the harbor. Maybe it’s anchoring and relaunching. Maybe it’s following GPS navigation.
Whatever skill or boating maneuver you need to practice, this is a great time of year to do it. As mentioned above, the summer crowds have melted away, so you’ll have plenty of room (and a lack of observers) to practice your skill set. With lots of room and no one around, you can make mistakes and practice skills to your heart’s content. And getting comfortable with handling your boat is always a good idea.