The first day of fall seems to mark the end of boating season (if you didn’t already call it quits after Labor Day). But the reality is that boating doesn’t have to end when summer slips away. In fact, autumn might just be the best season to get out on the water—even if you don’t own a boat.
“You’ve got plenty of great weeks ahead for boating,” says Maggie Maskery of Discover Boating, a one-stop shop for people looking to get started in boating, whether it’s through buying, trying, sharing or renting. “All through September, October and even November, you’re still able to get out on the water and do something different outdoors that’s good for the soul.”
Summer, step aside. The best boating season is upon us right now. Here’s why you should go boating this fall.
Popular waterways can be packed in the summer. But come fall, the scene quiets down quite a bit, offering a more serene experience. Fewer vessels in the fall also mean it’s a safer and more relaxed time of year for new boaters to try out the activity.
“You have the waterways to yourself in a way. Marinas, harbors and boat ramps are easier to access in the fall when people aren’t jamming the waterways,” explains Maskery.
She encourages first-time boaters to take a boat education course and follow their pre-departure checklist to ensure the experience is as safe as it is fun.
This time of year, 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, why not escape them by boat? The water might just be the best place to be a leaf peeper this fall, not only because it’s easier to practice social distancing, but also because the reflection of the yellow, orange and red leaves makes the views even more spectacular.
“Whether you’re on a lake or river, surrounded by trees, you’re wrapped up in vivid autumn hues,” says Maskery. “You can capture the most stunning Instagram-worthy photos from a boat that you can’t get by foot.”
Did the coronavirus pandemic put a damper on your summer vacation plans? Make up for it on a boating trip this fall. According to Maskery, boating is about more than being on the water (although that’s definitely a highlight!).
“You can make a whole experience of it and get out and hike and go to lunch. A lot of waterways offer dock-and-dine,” she adds.
For some additional seclusion, rent a cozy cabin that’s only accessible by water where you can really get away from it all. Or, take your partner on a romantic boat camping trip. After dark, those starry skies put on an incredible show near the water.
Scorching summer temperatures can make active adventures (even those on the water) unpleasant. That’s not the case in the fall, though. The season’s crisp, cool weather makes it easy to spend the day paddling around in a kayak, going freshwater fishing, and balancing on a stand-up paddleboard—no sweat.
You can even go waterskiing, rafting, wakeboarding and tubing—just check the temperature of the water before you head out and gear up with a drysuit and other gear to keep warm.
Between the ongoing risk of COVID-19, and cold and flu season right around the corner, health is of utmost importance. We’re washing our hands, wearing our masks, and trying to incorporate more healthy foods into our diets. But believe it or not, boating can also be part of your health and wellness regimen.
Studies suggest that spending time in nature can improve our health and wellbeing, and water may amplify those health benefits. Marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols has studied the emotional and psychological healing benefits of water and has found that simply being in the presence of a lake, river, pond or other body of water can create a gentle meditative state, known as “Blue Mind. Simply listening to water may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. What’s more, nearly 3 in 4 Americans feel healthier after spending time on the water.
“There’s a change that happens when you step onto a boat and unplug,” says Maskery. “It changes your whole mental wellbeing.”
Don’t own a boat? No problem. A boat club membership, peer-to-peer boat sharing programs, and boat rentals are all ways you can get out on the water even if you don’t have your own vessel. Consider it doctor’s orders to try boating this fall.
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