Smarter on the Water
Summer is here, which makes it a great time to remind ourselves of some of the rules that are in place the for sake of safety. While some things seem obvious, other rules/regulations can catch us off guard. Then beyond the rules... several items make for good practice to ensure a good day on the water.
Life Jackets - you might know that you do need a jacket for every person onboard your vessel. This of course includes those involved with tow- sports. But you might not have known that those jackets have to bear the stamp of one of the following organizations.
Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Tow Sports & Spotting - Did you know that only personal watercraft designed to carry three or more people can be used for tow-sports like tubing, skiing, and wakeboarding? It's true. Your boat/pwc has to have a seat for the driver, spotter, and the person(s) being towed. Connected to this is you have a have spotter on board at all times during tow-sports. This is likely the rule that I see broken most often.
Pleasure Craft Operator Card - It's mandatory for anyone operating a pleasure craft with any type of motor to have their operator card onboard. You can take the course online with a company like @BoatSmart.
Right of Way - This can be just as frustrating on the water as it can be on a hiking trail, bike path, or a 4 way stop. Usually, because people are ignorant of the rules here, make a small list of assumptions about safe travel. The key here is to give space, and show your change of course with an early and obvious action - make it clear what you are doing so that other boaters have no reason to worry about your direction of travel. I love how this topic is covered by BoatSmart, so follow the link and refresh yourself on a couple of the simple guides that they provide.
Navigation Lights - I can't stress enough the importance of having lights on your vessel that are clear, bright, and most importantly turned on. If you've been on the water watching a sunset, you can see how quickly it goes from a beautifully coloured sky to one that is very dark. This also contributes to a disappearing horizon, which makes it incredibly difficult to see objects on the water. Here is where lights on your boat come into play. It helps others see you and see what direction (if any) you're traveling in. So, if you have a bimini or camper top, make sure your anchor/all-around white light is tall enough to clear the top so it can be seen all around by other boaters. It's unfortunate, but I've been on the water more than once, where I've passed by another boater, who is seemingly enjoying the star-light sky, all while not having a single light turned on. Do yourself and all other boaters a favour and make sure your lights work and that they are turned on when on the water at or after sunset.
This is only a short list, but it's a couple of things that I believe worth to be reminded of and should help you and your guests have a great summer on the water. Stay Smart, Stay Safe.
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