Ten Tips for Safe Sailing in Autumn

Autumn brings some of the best sailing of the year to the Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy it more by practicing these ten safe sailing tips.

Sail safe all through the fall. Photo by Dan Phelps

1. Wear a PFD. If yours is uncomfortable, shop for a new one. Each year manufacturers bring out new models designed for ease and comfort.

2. File a float plan. This can be as simple as a text or email to a friend, or a note left on your vehicle's dashboard. Check out the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's sample plan.

3. Take a boater safety course, even if you're not required to by law. The American Sailing Association wesite links to courses by state. The BoatU.S. website offers online courses covering a variety of pertinent topics.

4. Request a Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron vessel safety check.

5. Practice man overboard drills, and come up with a plan specific to your boat for getting crew or skipper back onboard.

6. Practice reefing.

7. Improve your seamanship through reading and time on the water with skilled sailors.

8. Save the alcohol for shore-side fun. Wind, waves, and sun all increase its effect.

9. Increase vigilance at night. Add a spotter, slow down, bring a spot light.

10. As air and water temperatures drop, wear proper clothing. That might mean a protective shell, or even a wet or dry suit depending on your type of sailing.