While boating can be an extraordinary experience, it comes with inherent risk. It doesn’t matter what type of boating you enjoy, or if you buy, borrow or rent - it’s your responsibility to ensure you are well-trained and informed about how to stay safe on the water.
The go-to resource for safety is Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide. It outlines much of what you’ll need to know to stay safe on the water, including the minimum requirements for safety equipment on pleasure craft. For easy reference, here are the minimum safety equipment requirements.
Boat Notes is another abbreviated version of the Safe Boating Guide and is an excellent reference.
The Canadian Safe Boating Council identifies FIVE key steps to safer boating:
- Wear Your Lifejacket.
- Don't Drink and Boat.
- Take a Boating Course.
- Be Prepared.
- Beware of Cold Water Risks.
We recognize the potential impact that boats have on the marine ecosystem and the communities we enjoy. It’s up to all of us to understand how we can minimize our impact and practice responsible environmental stewardship.
Marinas in the Clean Marine Program proudly fly the Clean Marine environmental flag. As a boater, this is your assurance that the marina has adopted the highest environmental standards for marinas in the world. Check out the Boating Ontario marina directory to find a clean marine facility near you!
Following the Boater's Code
Being part of the boating community means knowing and following good etiquette; traditions that, over generations, have become the unwritten rules of the road. Just like being on land, we need to be good neighbors; help others when they need it, tidy up after ourselves, and be respectful to the people and environment around us.
- LEND-A-HAND: It doesn’t matter if you prefer power, sail, or paddle - boaters help each other out. It could be as simple as offering to carry something on a dock, offering a seasoned word of advice or something more serious like placing a distress call for someone in trouble; it’s your job to look out for your fellow boaters.
- UNDERWAY: It goes without saying, you need to know and follow the rules of the road. When overtaking a vessel, allow for as much room as possible and travel at a speed that won’t unnecessarily rock their boat. Slow down when being overtaken. If possible, overtake a vessel under sail well to leeward or pass astern in a crossing situation, so you don’t block their wind. Watch your wake; think about the wash you create for people out fishing, kayaking, enjoying time on a moored boat – and even those onshore. Finally, if you see someone in trouble, always stop to help.
- AT THE MARINA: Don’t just dock anywhere - make sure your slip hasn’t been reserved by someone else. Make sure you return carts, wheelbarrows, and other shared marina equipment. Tidy up your cords, equipment and personal items on the dock so it does not become a hazard for someone else. No swimming! There are a number of safety reasons not to swim in a marina unless, of course, it is a designated swimming area. Offer to help others with their lines when docking.
- ANCHORING & MOORING: Slow down when entering an anchorage or mooring area. Select your anchorage carefully – giving yourselves and your new neighbors ample room. Respect the area, property owners and be considerate of private property when choosing an anchoring/mooring location Remember winds change, anchor lines tangle and hulls and dinghy’s can easily bang into each other. If you’re traveling with a lot of people and plan to be very social, you should anchor a little further away. Be thoughtful at night; don’t run your generator around the clock, paddle rather than motor to shore and back, and be conscious of your activity and noise levels.
- AT THE RAMP & FUEL DOCK: Ramps and fuel docks are not a place to linger or socialize – wait your turn, do what you need to do, and get out of the way!
Wherever you are: take your garbage home with you!