RCMP: Keeping it Safe on the Water

Winnipeg, Manitoba, July 30, 2015 – As we enter the hottest days of summer, it is important to remember that while boats are a lot of fun, they are also subject to a number of laws set out by Transport Canada. Those laws are in place to help keep everyone safe on the water.

The basic facts are these:

  • Nearly 150 people die and many more get seriously injured every year in boating incidents in Canada
  • Approximately 9 of every 10 people who drown from boating incidents in Canada were not wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD)
  • Approximately 85 per cent of boating deaths occur in Canada’s fresh waterways (Canadian Recreational Boating Trend Reports)

The impaired operation of a boat is a criminal offence just like driving an automobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and boats simply don’t mix.

Keep yourself and your passengers safe by following these safety tips:

  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Respect speed limits and other watercrafts
  • Ensure all lights on the watercraft are working if you plan to go out after dark
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out to avoid running into inclement weather
  • Ensure there is safety equipment available for everyone on board
  • Know the limitations of your boat and do not overload it, as it can become unstable
  • Check on local hazards, such as shallow water and submerged objects
  • Carry enough fuel for your trip (1/3 to go, 1/3 to return, 1/3 reserve is a good rule of thumb)
  • Carry an alternative means of propulsion, such as oars, and a spare can of fuel
  • File a float plan with someone you trust that includes:
    • Departure and arrival times
    • Point of destination and the route you plan to take
    • Description of the boat
    • Names of all persons on board and a contact number on shore

“Boaters need to remember that a number of laws and regulations apply on the waters they enjoy” says Sgt. Bert Paquet of the Manitoba RCMP. “While the majority of boaters abide by the rules, our officers will continue to patrol waterways throughout the summer, targeting boaters who don’t.”

All boaters must have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card, which indicates the holder’s competency to operate a boat, as well as a piece of personal identification. Failure to produce a valid operator’s card when asked will result in a $300 fine. Fines for boating infractions begin at $120.