Written By: Cindy Hunter Originally Published in the May/June 1995
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.


Keep and eye on weather this summer

Don’t go out on the water this summer without checking the weather forecast, says the Canadian coast Guard, citing the large number of weather-related distress calls received in recent years.

Local radio stations carry accurate weather reports from Environment Canada. Many stations also carry the marine forecast, which includes three different types of weather warnings: small craft, gale and storm.

Small craft warnings are issued when winds are expected to exceed 20 knots. Gale warnings are issued when winds are between 34 and 48 knots and storm warnings are issued for winds over 47 knots. Remember weather can change quickly on the water. If you encounter bad weather such as high winds and waves, rain or fog - make sure everyone is wearing a lifejacket of PFD and head for the nearest shelter.

PFD spells protection

For so many, the thought of wearing a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) is not very inviting for a variety of reasons, including discomfort and maybe interfering with getting a suntan.

Today, many new designs are on the market which make wearing a PFD more comfortable and more stylish.

While current regulations only require that you carry an approved life jacket for each person on board, the Canadian Coast Guard strongly recommends that you wear them at all times. In most emergency situations, you don’t have time to search for your life jacket or PFD. Statistics show that 80% to 90% of victims in boating fatalities weren’t wearing life jackets.

For more information on the different types of approved flotation devices, call the Canadian Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Information Hotline at 1-800-267-6687.

Don’t rock the boat

The small boats often used in fishing, hunting and day cruising can be unstable, making it easy for the unwary boater to fall overboard. The Canadian Coast Guard reminds boaters that small boats can capsize easily. Stay safe this boating season by following these basic tips.

STAY LOW - don’t stand up in the boat for any reason. Standing up in a small boat makes it more unstable, and many anglers have fallen overboard when they stood up to cast or land a catch.

DON’T OVERLOAD THE BOAT - modern outboard boats carry a plate indicating the boat’s maximum horsepower and safe carrying capacity. A boat’s capacity includes the combined weight of passengers, outboard and other equipment. The number of seats in a boat is not a measure of its capacity. An overloaded boat has little freeboard - the distance from the water surface to the top edge of the boat- which makes it more likely to tip or easy for water to come over the side. Distribute the weight evenly within the boat, and don’t overload it.

STAY WITH YOUR BOAT - If you fall into the water, stay calm, and stay with the boat. Most boats will remain afloat if they turn over, so try to climb back into the boat or on top of the upturned hull to await help. This is especially important in cold water.

Alcohol and boating are a deadly mix

It is every bit as hazardous and just as illegal to mix alcohol and boating as it is to drink and drive.

More than 40 percent of recreational boating fatalities in Canada are alcohol related. Local, provincial and federal police forces are responsible for enforcing the Criminal Code on the water. If a police officer suspects you are operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol he or she has the authority to demand a breath sample and lay charges if appropriate.

The consumption of alcohol is permitted only in licensed premises or in a residence. In other words, the vessel must be docked, moored or anchored and must be equipped with facilities associated with a residence.

How big a problem is boating and alcohol?

Watch your speed near shore

As you head out on the water this summer, remember to watch your speed near shore. The boating restriction Regulation was amended in August 1991 to introduce a shore protection zone. Within 30 meters of shore, power boats are limited to 10 km/h. Only boats launching water skiers straight out from shore are exempt. The provision, which helps separate swimmers and boaters, covers all waterways in provinces that join the program. Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan have already joined, and several other provinces are planning to.

Although no signs are required to remind boaters of this new provision, it applies to all waterways in provinces that have adopted it.

Boat Launch Checklist:

Additional equipment to keep on board:


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