Oregon is blessed with a plethora of boating opportunities year-round but fall and winter require more preparation and planning. This year is no exception and boaters are urged to take a few extra steps to ensure a safe voyage.
Oregon’s waterways are cold year-round and noticeably cold now, so dress for the water temperature and expect to get wet. For paddlers, SUPers, and rafters, the Marine Board recommends wearing a wet suit, dry suit, warm layers, and a life jacket designed for the activity. At a minimum, carry a cell phone in a dry bag/container or other communication device, and share a float plan with friends or family so they can call for help if you are overdue.
Fall rains can also cause dramatic rises in river flows. Because of this year’s historic wildfires, these fluctuations may be quicker and larger, and more debris is entering the rivers and lakes. The water is staying muddy much longer as well. Boaters are encouraged to monitor NOAA weather for their region, check river gauges and reservoir levels, and to visit the agency’s interactive Boat Oregon Map with information to contact facility owners and learn if access is open. The Marine Board works closely with marine law enforcement to assess reported navigation obstructions as well, adding verified obstructions to the map with river sections to avoid or recommendations for safe passage, where possible. Conditions are dynamic, though, with new obstructions reported almost daily right now. Scout ahead in unknown waters.
Boating has become a great escape during this time of COVID but requires vigilance and skill. If you’re new to boating, take advantage of a free online paddling course or other boating safety education offerings for motorboat operators. Start out in locations that are calm and sheltered from rapidly changing conditions due to weather or water volume.
Learn more at www.boatoregon.com.