By John Gullick – Canadian Safe Boating Council
Every year thousands of boaters go out on the water without giving any thought to how prepared either they or their boats are for the season ahead. Personal preparation involves ensuring you have on-hand your Pleasure Craft Operator Card, up to date nautical charts, a pre-departure checklist and have obtained a reliable marine weather forecast.
When it comes to vessel preparedness, one of the first things to ensure is that your boat and engine(s) are mechanically sound. Remember that, throughout most of Canada, boats have been in storage for a number of months over the winter and may not operate as efficiently as they did last season. Make sure that you follow the recommended maintenance schedule found in your boat’s owner’s manual.
The Canadian government also mandates that specific safety equipment be carried on board. This equipment can be of great benefit and can mean the difference between a great day out on the water and a potential disaster.
During Safe Boating Awareness Week (May 19th – 25th, 2012) and throughout the entire season, the Canadian Safe Boating Council and Smartboater.ca want to remind Canadians to review their safe boating check list before heading out onto the water.
Required items vary depending on boat length but the list below highlights the things that, at minimum, need be carried on board, in good working condition and within reach each time you go out:
Compulsory Items required on a typical vessel 6 meters or less in length:
- The vessels license or registration if powered by a motor of 7.5 kw (10 hp) or more
- A Canadian approved flotation device (PFD) in good repair and of appropriate size for every person on board
- Fire extinguisher (depending on type of engine, gas tank or cooking appliances on board)
- Watertight flashlight or pyrotechnic distress signal requirements (flares)
- Sound signaling device
- Buoyant heaving line (minimum 15 meters in length)
- Paddle or anchor with at least 15 meters of rode and /or chain
- Re-boarding device
- Bailer or manual water pump
- Navigation lights
Other items to check:
- Secure batteries
- Passive ventilation that allows air to flow through below decks
- Exhaust fan or bilge blower that removes dangerous vapours
- Flame arrester and heat shielding for inboard engines
- Up-to-date charts
- Magnetic compass
- Radar reflector
Consider requesting a Recreational Vessel Courtesy Check. This is a totally voluntary service and is conducted without penalty if a deficiency is found. You will simply be advised of the requirement and a re-inspection will be offered when you have added these items.
Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons are currently the only non-governmental national source for this programme. They will inspect vessels that are in or out of the water. They can tell you what is required and give you specific information about each item, what items are best for your vessel and boating conditions and even how to properly use certain items or what additional training might be available. Volunteers can also talk to you about PFDs, Sail Plans, Alcoholic Beverage Consumption while on board, Sewage Disposal and Pre Departure Check Lists.
Review your check list BEFORE your leave – Be Prepared! Whether you use a power boat, sail boat, personal watercraft, canoe, kayak or fishing boat, find more information on a variety of boating safety tips by visiting www.SmartBoater.ca.