Autumn Sailing

For many who love to take the helm of a sailboat, autumn is an especially wonderful time to ‘mess around in boats.’ There are days in September and October, and even a couple of days in November, when the sky, the water and the air will rival the best days of summer.

Harbors are not congested.

Most harbors are clear of crafts.

At the height of a sailor’s summer, mooring and anchorage areas are loaded with boats of every size, a forest of  masts. There are lines clanging against aluminum masts at all hours. A radio is on, voices and outboard motors hum. In autumn, these same waterfront places are tranquil, a field of floating buoys, drifting sea gulls and an occasional fish breaking.

It is not just that the air of autumn is clearer than the dog days of July or the tropical moist afternoons of August; look down. The water is far more transparent in autumn. In summer it is often cloudy, rich in microscopic algae and plankton.

For those who like swimming, the water temperature at this time of year is comparable to early summer. Those familiar with swimming in June, find the water now warmer.

Winds can be especially erratic at this time of year. It may blow hard in the morning, requiring reefing; and be near calm by afternoon, calling for full sail.

There’s a challenge for those who work and sail in the afternoon, sunsets are earlier.

Perhaps the best part about sailing in autumn goes beyond the boat and the favorable weather: it is the sailors themselves.
Many don’t get to go sailing, they are so busy in the summer. A sail in autumn is a special gift, a reward for working hard during the summer. It is a time to more leisurely enjoy our waterways and cherish the closing of summer and the opening of a new season.