How to Be a Safe Boater
If you sit in the captain’s seat of your yacht, you also take on the duty of ensuring that your boating experience is safe. In order to ensure safety of everyone on board, there are a number of things to consider:
- Is the vessel itself safe to use, seaworthy and properly equipped?
- Are your guests safe and do they know what to do in an emergency?
- Do I know how to navigate and interact with other water users so everyone is safe?
Being responsible for safety can be daunting at first, but by following this boating safety checklist, you can feel confident that you have the equipment you need and know what to do to keep everyone safe on your vessel.
The Key Steps to Boat Safety – a Checklist
Learn: The first step to safe boating is knowledge. Anyone operating a pleasure craft in Canadian waters must complete an accredited training course and exam to receive their Pleasure Craft Operating Card. This course will teach you everything you need to know about how to be safe on the water and the equipment you must carry on board.
Equip your vessel: According to Transport Canada, there are some safety items that you must have on your vessel by law. Exact requirements may vary depending on the size of your vessel, make sure you check the safe boating guide before kitting out your yacht.
- Personal Flotation Devices / Lifejackets: You must have at least one PFD per person on board. It is recommended that every passenger wears their life jacket at all times
In over 87% of drowning deaths, the victim was either not wearing a PFD or wearing one that didn’t fit correctly according to Red Cross Canada. When choosing life jackets consider the following:
Fit – life jackets have weight limits, if this limit is exceeded it may mean the wearer is not kept afloat. The PFD should fit snugly enough that it cannot be pulled up past the wearer’s chin.
Age – life Jackets for small children should have crotch straps and head supports to ensure they stay in place and keep the child’s face out of the water.
Activity – different styles of PFDs are available for different uses, i.e. with bigger arm holes for anglers.
- Buoyant Heaving Line: At least 15m long, for water rescues. Also consider at least one throwable floatation device such as a ring or pillow buoy.
- Manual propelling device or anchor with 15m rope: In case of engine failure.
- Visual signalling devices: Approved flares or waterproof flashlights with spare batteries.
- Sound signalling devices: Portable and fixed horns and whistles to attract attention and use in low visibility. Larger vessels also require a fixed bell.
- Fire extinguisher: Visit Transport Canada to find the required classification of fire extinguisher for your vessel type
- Bailer or hand pump: In case of water breaches or leaks.
Add an emergency kit: Although not legally required, these additional items will be invaluable in an emergency situation.
- First Aid Kit – put a basic kit together yourself using this Canadian Red Cross
- Documentation – boat registration, local water charts.
- Communication tools – VHF Radio, marine UHF Radio, Cell Phone (know which radio channels to use for local emergency assistance and ensure someone else on board knows how to use it).
- Navigation tools – charts, radar, GPS
- Spare batteries
- Extra water and snacks
- Essential weather kit – Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, waterproof clothes.
- Dry change of clothes
For more information about what an emergency kit should contain, see Van Isle Marina’s Emergency Boating Checklist.
Always do a pre-departure boat safety checklist: A pre-departure checklist is a quick and easy way to ensure that your vessel is safe and ready to go out on the water. By going through this list you can fix any problems before you set sail.
- Are the oil, fuel and other fluid levels correct?
- Are batteries all charged?
- Is all required safety and other equipment present?
- Are your lights working correctly?
- Is your radio working?
Educate your guests on boating safety: Before you set sail, make sure your guests know:
- Where the PFDs are and how to use them.
- How to use the radio and other signalling devices.
- What to do in the case of an emergency if you are incapacitated.
How Else Can I Ensure My Vessel and Guests are Safe?
- Check the weather forecast: Weather systems can move in quickly at sea. Always check the local forecast before setting off and know what to do if the weather changes suddenly. Environment Canada marine weather forecasts will let you see at a glance if there are any weather warnings in your area.
- File a float plan: Make sure someone on land knows your plans so they can alert authorities if you do not return as expected. Such as a friend or family member.
- Navigate safely: Remember:
- Keep out of the path of larger vessels
- Use navigation lights and radar to ensure you are seen
- Don’t cause an obstruction to others
- Don’t drive impaired: Almost 65% of annual boating deaths involve the use of alcohol. Alcohol and drugs reduce motor skills, judgement and ability to react. Wait until you are back in dock or on land to enjoy a drink.
Van Isle Marina – Your Yacht is Safe With Us
At Van Isle Marina our knowledgeable staff can help you to find any boating safety equipment you may require for your vessel. We can also provide any information you need to know about local waters.
At our full service marina located just outside Sidney, BC, you’ll find a marine fueling station, and dock store. You’ll also find secure, heated lockers where you can store your boat safety and emergency items. With moorage options ranging from nightly to year round, you can relax knowing your yacht is safe and secure. Contact us to find out more about our marina services today.