General boating etiquette should be followed to ensure safety for you and your fellow passengers. Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider before taking the boat out for a spin.
DO Bring Boating License on Board with You
Similar to driving, it’s necessary to bring your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) with you when operating a boat. If you happen to be stopped by law enforcement, they could ask to see it as well as any personal identification. You can get your PCOC by passing a boating safety test available from a Transport Canada accredited course provider.
DON’T Forget to Check Weather Forecast
It’s important to not skip checking the weather forecast beforehand. If it’s supposed to rain and thunder, avoid going out on the boat for the time being. If it’s sunny skies ahead, enjoy the boat ride. Although once you are on the water, be aware of any sudden weather changes as summer thunderstorms have the potential to strike quickly.
DO Check Safety Equipment
If you are planning on taking the boat, be sure to check that you have the right equipment on board. Be sure to inspect fuel levels, instrument lights, ventilation, battery charger, and engine and coolant levels. Some additional safety gear you should have on the boat with you include:
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) or lifejackets
- First-aid kit
- Flashlight or flares
- Extra batteries
- Class 5 BC fire extinguisher
- Manual propelling devices such as a paddle or oar
- Tool kit
- Buoyant heaving line
- Bailer or hand pump
- Whistle or another sound-signalling device
- Navigation lights
- Cell phone
DON’T Forget to Bring Personal Flotation Devices or Lifejackets for Each Passenger
By law, you must have a PFD or lifejacket for each person on the boat. This is to help keep you and your passengers’ safe as a PFD or lifejacket can help prevent cold-water shock, which can affect your ability to breath and the ability to move your muscles. Even if you consider yourself to be a good swimmer, a PFD or lifejacket can help keep you afloat and help save your life if you get tossed overboard.
DO Educate Passengers on Board
Be aware that the passengers understand basic boat safety rules. This consists of not standing up when someone is driving the boat, bringing a PFD or lifejacket on board with them and knowing what to do if any issues arise. Make sure any children or pets are securely inside the boat.
DON’T Drink and Boat
The Canadian Red Cross reports that 65 per cent of boating-related deaths involves the use of alcohol. Drinking and boating can be just as dangerous and illegal as drinking and driving. It can reduce your reaction time, vision, balance and can increase the risk of hypothermia. Wait until after the boat riding and driving is done for the day to have a drink.
DO Wave to Other Boaters
Waving to other boaters not only lets them know you are friendly but it’s also reassuring boating safety practices that you are aware of their presence on the water. If there’s an emergency situation, nearby boaters can help out or call for professional help. Passengers can also wave to acknowledge other boaters. It’s courteous and fun to do so.