ARE YOU BOATING SAFELY?
Most boaters who are 16 years of age or older probably also have a driver's license. In order to get one, prospective drivers took courses, practised driving, practised parking and learned the rules of the road to the letter. Tough to figure just why, but for some reason, there seems to be a feeling that handling a boat and taking some form of course or practice sessions are not necessary in boating.
When we drive a car, we travel on well-designated roads with clearly marked signs as to what the expectations and conditions of the road are and your approximate location. Other vehicles on these roads also travel in a designated area and other vehicles either come towards you in their lanes, from behind you in your lane, or up to you at cross roads appropriately marked and usually clearly visible. The road is steady and solid and except in extreme storm conditions of excessive rain or a snowstorm, the road is easily passable.
On the waterways, there are no clearly defined lines of travel. Other vessels can come at you from all angles and from every point on the compass. The road is anything but steady and can be moving in many directions because of winds, currents and the waves (wake) created by other boats. Although there are navigational aids or buoys, you need some knowledge and charts to be able to tell what the information is really telling you. In other words there are no real signs when you are in the middle of a large lake.
Add to this the fact that at any time in any area, boats, unlike travelling on the limited access highways (400 Series in Ontario), are all travelling at dramatically different speeds. A powerboat could be travelling at speeds from a few knots per hour (a knot is 18% faster than a mile per hour) to over 60 knots per hour. Sailboats will be travelling at much slower speeds for the most part and personal water craft and sailboards are probably darting in and out to take advantage of waves created by larger faster-moving vessels. You will need to know about safety equipment, navigational aids, laws of the water and a myriad of other items of information necessary for safe boating. These helpful ideas and prompts are part of Safe Boating Courses.
Boaters need to be aware, that as of September 15, 2009, ALL operators of a watercraft, including a Personal Watercraft (PWC), must have proof of competency on board. This is shown by having a Canadian Coast Guard Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
This Operator Card can be obtained in a number of ways. Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons offer courses and are approved to issue these cards to successful candidates. In the Boating Links section at www.boatcan.com, you can find information about the CPSS courses and where and when one might be offered near you.
The courses will provide boaters with information about such things as Laws, Fueling, Operating the Vessel, Navigational Aids and how to read them, Distress Signals, Needed Equipment and Maintenance, Docking, Anchoring, Lighting, Avoiding Collisions and many other topics you should know. In addition there is a Trial Test to help you before you take the Test for your Card.
Each week it seems we hear of tragedies on the water and learn of yet another person or persons who have been lost while out for a fun day on the water. Boatcan is committed to the support and the enhancement of safe boating. Being properly trained and accredited is one way to help you work towards becoming a safe boater. The Pleasure Craft Operator Card is now mandatory. Encourage your fellow boaters to do be certain that they have a legally obtained and approved PCOC. Follow proper boating laws, exercise courtesy and remember others while boating in all waterways. Just as we expect that other drivers on highways will be as competent as we are and obey the rules and laws of the road, we should have the same expectations while we are boating.
Accidents don't just happen they are caused. Let us all do our part to boat carefully and safely and make certain that we do not become, nor are we the cause of, another tragic boating statistic..... BE A RESPONSIBLE BOATER.... AND BOAT SAFELY.
THINK ABOUT THIS.... Without a BOAT, 75% of the Earth’s Surface is Wasted!!!!
AUTHOR: David McPhail, President of Boatcan