Go-Fast Boating’s Best Shoulder Season

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Earlier this month, Fleet Week descended on San Francisco. The popular annual event always ends with a spectacular aerial performance by the Blue Angels, the United States Navy and Marine Corps demonstration squadron that performs around the country from March through October.

If you haven’t seen it, you need to. The skill level of Blue Angel aviators will leave you breathless. And the roar of the fighter jets within inches of each other as they tear through the sky in outrageous formations? It makes the sounds of supercharged V-8 marine engines sound like mouse hiccups.

Northern California’s Rick Bowling captured the Blue Angels over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco during Fleet Week earlier this month. Photos by Rick Bowling.

Away from my home about an hour north of San Francisco to cover Roar Offshore—the season finale of the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series—in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., I had to miss the Blue Angels show this year. But Northern California’s Rick Bowling didn’t (he rarely does) and he posted a few pictures he took from his well-known 37-foot Talon catamaran called Gone Again.

“The Blue Angels are always my favorite day on San Francisco Bay,” said Bowling. “Fleet Week is awesome with all the boats that show up. If you like horsepower and speed it doesn’t get any better. I’ve been doing this event this for at least 30 years.”

That the Blue Angels arrive in the Bay area each fall is perfect timing, because fall is Northern California’s finest boating season, at least if you value uncrowded weekend water and incredible weather. The same goes for go-fast boating in Arizona, which on the same weekend the Blue Angels took to the sky above San Francisco Bay saw the Monster Storm Poker Run fleet take to the waters of Lake Havasu.

Gone Again transported Bowling his lucky guests to Fleet Week during a brilliant fall weekend in Northern California.

But the West isn’t alone in presenting exceptional fall go-fast boating opportunities. The weekend before I headed to Fort Myers Beach, which had daytime high temperatures in the high-80-to-low-90-degree range (such is the beginning of fall in Southwest Florida), I traveled to the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri for Performance Boat Center’s annual Fall Fun Run. And with the exception a brief Saturday evening rainstorm, the weather was perfect—as were the water conditions.

Of course, there are no guarantees that favorable boating conditions will last into fall, much less how long those shoulder-season conditions persist. This is especially true in places that have real winter, the kind that includes snowfall as well as crystal clear days with sub-freezing temperatures, which is why most go-fast powerboat owners tend to call it a year and winterize their rides after Labor Day Weekend. (Plus, the kids head back to school.) Fall can be depressingly short in the Midwest and Northeast.

Then again, how many perfect weekend days in September and October have you seen when you wished you were on the water even it would have required you and your passengers to wear windbreakers under your PFDs?

For those who of you who have already put their boats to bed for the winter, there’s always next year. But for those of you still out there enjoying some of the best water and weather of the year, carry on—at least until you can’t.

Because as you clearly know, as does Rick Bowling, fall boating rocks.

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