Photo © Unsplash/Jantine Doornbos
As the weather gets warmer, many of us will be heading to cottage country and spending some time in the sun—and nothing says summer in Canada like taking a cruise on the lake. While cruising on a boat is incredibly relaxing and a great way to spend a summer day, it’s important to pay careful attention to boating rules and regulations. No matter how experienced a boater you are, here are some tips everyone should know before heading out on the water:
Before you head out on the water, make sure you have all the required safety equipment onboard and within reach. If you find missing or broken equipment, fix or replace it before you go. Don’t forget to check your fuel levels before leaving the dock! Remember the golden rule: 1/3 to go, 1/3 to return, and 1/3 in reserve.
Take a boating safety course:
A boating safety course can be a valuable tool for learning basic boating safety knowledge and understanding the “rules of the road.” Knowing what actions the “stand on” and “give way” vessel should take are key to avoiding collisions. If operating a motorized boat, get a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or another approved form of operator competency and make sure to keep it on board—it’s the law.
Licence your boat:
In Canada, all boats powered by motors 7.5 kW (10 hp) or more must be licensed. This license is free and is good for 10 years. In an emergency, search and rescue personnel can access information about your boat using the licence number. To get or update your pleasure craft licence, apply online through the Transport Canada website or mail in an application. Remember, the law requires your licence to be kept up-to-date and on board with the number marked on both sides of the bow of your boat.
Keep a careful watch:
Sharing the waterway is everyone’s responsibility! Always avoid shipping lanes and larger vessels, such as ferries, cruise ships, and bulk carriers—these vessels move faster than they appear and take longer to stop or alter their course. As well, when operating at night, always turn on your navigation lights so others can see you.
Stay sober and safe:
Boating accidents do happen, on average, about 100 times every year. Of the boating drowning deaths last year, 85 percent weren’t wearing their lifejackets. Of that number, almost a quarter had lifejackets on board but couldn’t get to them in time. Make sure to thoroughly check your safety equipment, and keep the party on the dock so you and everyone around you can enjoy boating seasons to come.