Going boating this long weekend? Tips for a successful start to the season

Cottagers after a successful boating courtesy check with OPP Courtesy OPP

We share the giddy exuberance that overtakes Canadians on the Victoria Day Weekend, often called the “May 2-4”. Enforcement officers understand it too, but it’s their job to help keep us safe. May 18 to 24 is North American Safe Boating Awareness Week. There will be a lot of enforcement on the water at the start of the season and for many good reasons. Over the winter, storms take shoreline trees down, shoal markers go missing, and wind-driven ice and spring high water can send old dock beams out to sea.

With so much to do to open the cottage for the season, it is easy to forget the full list of safety equipment that should be on your boat. The sun may be shining and the temperatures rising, but the water will be shockingly cold and a mishap could easily become a fatality. So, take a few minutes to visit the Transport Canada website to make sure you have the required equipment for your type and size of boat.

Another good resource is the Canadian Safe Boating Council. They are a key part of North American Safe Boating Awareness Week and they emphasize these 5 key messages:

  • Wear a PFD or Lifejacket
  • Boat Unimpaired
  • Take a Boating Course
  • Be Prepared – Both You and Your Vessel
  • Be Wary of the Dangers of Cold Water Immersion

John Gullick, Chairman of the Canadian Safe Boating Council recommends setting up a free Recreational Vessel Courtesy Check through the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons website. Power Squadron members can come to your marina or harbour to check your boat ‘stem to stern’ telling you what safety equipment may need to be added or replaced. There is no cost for their services and they don’t fine you!

The Canadian Safe Boating Council, their partners and law enforcement agencies have been holding successful Safe Boating campaigns across Canada since 1993, increasing the reach and participation in the event every year. Now a North America-wide event, it is designed to keep boating safety top of mind throughout the season.

This weekend, and throughout the season, boat safe and avoid fines!

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