A joy of cottage life often involves walking down to the dock and taking the boat out to indulge in a variety of activities like fishing, parasailing, or water skiing. For the less active among us, there’s always the joy of taking a pleasure cruise out as far as possible before sinking the anchor and simply taking in the sunshine.
When you’ve got a boat, there are multiple ways to take advantage of our great summer weather on our rivers and lakes. Our summers may be short, but it’s important to take the time to ensure your boating experiences are both fun and safe, so you and your family can enjoy time together on the water for many summers to come.
Here are 5 tips you should follow when you’re out on the water at the cottage this summer and every summer:
Make sure your papers are in order
If you don’t already have one, get yourself a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). It’s Federal law to carry this card if you operate any powered watercraft in Canada—regardless of engine size or length of the boat. For more powerful boats (10 horsepower or more) your boat should have a Pleasure Craft License, which is kind of like your car’s licence plate. (For more information contact the Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687)
Give your boat the once over
The condition of your boat and what’s in it are two things that shouldn’t be ignored. Before your boat hits the water, check it over to ensure it’s in perfect working order. Check any lights, look for damage or cracks, and make sure the plugs are in before you put your boat in the water.
Make sure you’ve also got safety equipment on board that’s easily accessible and in good working order. Keep an emergency preparedness kit on board that includes items such as a change of clothes, drinking water, snacks, a first aid kit, extra fuel, basic tools, and spare parts.
Strap on some protection
When you’re finally out on the water, always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Not wearing one could cost you your life. 90 per cent of boaters who die in accidents were not wearing a life jacket. If you’re knocked unconscious in a boating accident, knowing how to swim won’t save you.
Don’t cruise and booze
Ever. Not only is it illegal, alcohol can have more of an effect on your reaction time if you’ve been out on the water and in the sun. In most provinces, you can also lose your driver’s licence if convicted of operating a boat while impaired. You should treat the waterways like a roadway and boat courteously. And if you see someone you think is impaired out on the water, call 911. You could be saving a life.