Monthly Archives: September 2016

  • Waves of Wonder: 5 Activities for Young Boaters

    School's back in session, which means (for most of us) no more long weekdays with the kids on the boat. Make the most of weekend boat rides with fun and educational activities that everyone can enjoy.

    The road trip guessing-game "I Spy" gains a new dimension on boat rides, where interesting things can be "spied" in the water and sky as well as on the shore. Kids can spy green fish, white birds, red buoys, and countless colored boats, and have fun guessing each other's items.

    Another game has no name that we know of, but it can be played anywhere, not just on the boat. Starting with the letter A, look around and see how many things you see that begin with that letter. One great thing about playing this game around the docks: you're bound to see a Zodiac inflatable watercraft to finish up the alphabet.

    Do you see any unusual or migrating birds? What kind of seashell is that? Keep pocket-size field guides for birds and fish in your boat's glove compartment, so that when a young boater asks, "What's that?" you can have fun looking up the answer together. If you have cellular service on the water, you can also search the Internet on your smartphone or tablet for more pictures of the animals you see.

    Take turns sharing a pair of binoculars to examine faraway features like lighthouses, buoys, or boats on the horizon. If you're boating at night, point the binoculars skyward and marvel at the stars. Is the moon up? Examine its craters and talk about the moon's phases. Download a free night sky app to help young stargazers identify stars and planets.

    Bring crayons, markers, and drawing paper so little (and big!) artists can draw what they see from the boat. Store drawing materials in a plastic bag to protect them from water.

    Speaking of bags, dry bags come in handy for keeping spare clothes safe. As it's usually cooler on the water, pack sweatshirts and jackets just in case. If it's warm enough to swim, carry a change of clothes for each child so they can put on fresh duds after drying off.

    Always make sure children are buckled into properly-sized life jackets. Even infants should wear a life vest. If you bring a baby in a car seat on board, please don't buckle him or her into it; if the seat goes overboard, it will prevent the life jacket from helping the child to float.

    Every boat ride is an opportunity to encourage kids' curiosity and to help them slake their thirst for knowledge about our world. This fall, make the most of every moment.

  • 5 Places for Fall Boating

    The days are growing shorter, but the light show of autumn colors is only just beginning. Have you ever taken a boat ride to see the changing leaves? If you're the planning type, check the Fall Foliage Prediction Map to see where color is peaking, or just take the boat out to your favorite lake and see what you can see. Here are five of the Skipper's picks for colorful fall boating.

    Door County, Wisconsin doorcounty

    Fall colors are beautiful all across the upper Midwest, but autumn in Door County is something special. Canoe, kayak, sail, or motor along the rocky shores of this peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. There's much to explore for all ages with color tours and events like the Harvest Festival in Sturgeon Bay and the Fall Harvest Fest at Lautenbach's Orchard Country.

     

    Damariscotta, Maine IMG_2070

    The hardwood forests of New England become a veritable fireworks show in early October, and the coastal inlets of Maine are wonderful places to explore by boat. Don't miss the world-famous Pumpkinfest and Regatta in Damariscotta. The festival celebrates the beloved round orange squash on the second weekend in October. The regatta pits "squashbucklers" against each other, racing boats made from gigantic pumpkins. Even the buoys are pumpkins!

     

    Lake Chelan, Washington chelan The Pacific Northwest's scenery is always beautiful, but it becomes extraordinary in the fall. Long, curving Lake Chelan is one of the region's most popular and gorgeous destinations for hikers and boaters alike. The daytime temperatures are comfortably warm well into October, so paddle and fish the clear, cold water in your own boat (or rent one). Just a few hours' scenic drive from Seattle, Lake Chelan stretches across two national forests and promises a magnificent color show each fall.

     

    Saugatuck, Michigan saugatuck

    Long a destination for artists, the western Michigan town of Saugatuck is rich with galleries, antique shops, and romantic bed-and-breakfast accommodations. Spend the day pontoon boating on Kalamazoo Lake, or take a bigger boat cruising down the Kalamazoo River to Lake Michigan. Explore the Saugatuck Dunes, sip local wine, and take plenty of photos to preserve the memories of Saugatuck's autumn beauty.

     

    Price Lake, North Carolina price lake

    Along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock is Price Lake. Rent a canoe, kayak, or rowboat and take in the fall colors from this 47-acre lake. Price Lake is well-stocked with fish and is surrounded by hiking trails. Enjoy the mild North Carolina autumn at the foot of Grandfather Mountain.

    As always, wear your life jacket and don't drive drunk. What's your favorite fall boating spot?

  • It's Labor Day Weekend!

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    Here in the USA, Labor Day falls on the first Monday in September. Just as Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, Labor Day marks its end as children head back to school and the daylight hours grow shorter. Labor Day is a very busy time for boaters seeking to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment from this three-day weekend. Lakes and rivers will be crowded, so it's extra-important to be extra-careful.

    Boat Sober. The Skipper says this all the time, but it's always good advice: if you're at the helm, steer clear of alcohol. Driving a boat while intoxicated is as dangerous (and illegal) as driving a car under the influence. Partying passengers can be distracting, too, so take care to be aware of your surroundings when things get rowdy.

    Wear It. Carry a life jacket for every passenger. Insist that children wear their life vests; your local laws probably require it.

    Know the Signs. Watch for other boats, skiers, and tubers, and observe the "rules of the road." You can't control what other boaters do, but you can keep control of your own craft - and your own behavior. Drive defensively and keep your wits about you.

    Use a Spotter. If you're towing a tuber or water-skier, appoint a sober passenger to keep watch on the person being towed.

    Have Fun! Enjoy yourselves, friends, and get back to the dock safely.