10 reminders for boating safely during fireworks season
For recreational boaters planning to be out on the water at night this summer, being prepared is the best way to stay safe. With fireworks season coming up, the Vancouver harbour will be busier than usual with nearly 1,000 recreational boaters out on the water each night to enjoy the show.
Whether you’re planning on boating from dusk until dawn, watching the fireworks, or just spending an evening on the water, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority harbour patrol crew wants your outing to be fun and safe. Review these safe boating reminders before setting sail and enjoy your night!
1. Be prepared: Boating at night is different. It’s more difficult to see your surroundings, so it is important to have the proper lighting and safety equipment on board, to take extra precautions, and to go slower. A little planning goes a long way to make sure you, your friends and family are safe. Take some time to review the port authority’s safe boating guidelines before getting on the water.
2. Stay out of the fireworks exclusion zone: Be aware of the 1,200 ft radius exclusion zone marked by buoys, and ensure you stay outside of this area at all times. The fireworks won’t begin unless the zone is clear.
3. Be aware of current and tide changes when anchoring: Think about the conditions (wind, weather and tides) to determine what your boat will do when anchored. You need to ensure you won’t drift inside the exclusion zone while at anchor.
4. Maintain a maximum speed of five knots in the event area: Honour the 5-knot speed restriction, and go even slower in and around boats at anchor. The waters are busier in the summer and at night it can be even more difficult to navigate your surroundings. Go a little slower, give yourself more time and plan your day—and night—accordingly.
5. Make sure your navigation lights are working:Recreational boats operating at night are required to display navigation lights when out on the water between sunset and sunrise. Navigating in a crowded area can be as dangerous as boating in stormy weather, or in fog. Display an anchor light while anchored around the fireworks barge.
6. Paddlers must be visible at night: Be sure to carry a bright flashlight if you are kayaking or paddle boarding at night to ensure other boaters can see you.
7. Be patient: Heading back to shore after the fireworks can take some time, so be courteous and careful. Stay to the right in narrow channels.
8. Have an extra set of eyes watching the water: It’s tough to see on the water at night. Assign a lookout to help watch for other boaters and debris in the water.
9. PFDs for everyone: Make sure everyone on board has a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Always wear a PFD when operating a human-powered vessel.
10. Follow the “rules of the road” and watch for other traffic: Always be aware of other vessels around you and comply with rules around restricted areas. Five or more short and rapid blasts of a ship’s whistle means “danger—stay clear.” Monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 and 12 on your radio.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for maintaining the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic within the Port of Vancouver. In partnership with other agencies, the port authority regularly assists to keep shipping lanes clear of small boat traffic.
As part of its ongoing work to ensure marine safety in the harbour, the port authority is implementing new restrictions during the Celebration of Light fireworks. During the hours of 9:00 p.m. until midnight on July 27, July 31 and August 3, all deep-sea commercial ships and tugs engaged in towing operations will not be permitted to transit between the Lion’s Gate and Ironworkers Memorial bridges.
All vessels operating within Canada’s waterways are governed by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and are subject to collision regulations. In addition, Canada’s Criminal Code also applies to boating. These laws ensure the waterways remain safe for all users.
For more information, visit portvancouver.com/safeboating to review the safe boating guides for the Burrard Inlet and Fraser River.
- Burrard Inlet Safe Boating Guide [PDF]
- Fraser River Safe Boating Guide [PDF]
- For up-to-date information on safety tips and requirements for pleasure crafts, see Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety
- Port Information Guide [PDF] for localized practices and procedures at the Port of Vancouver
About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority:
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is financially self-sufficient and accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo, facilitating trade between Canada and more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, the port authority and port terminals and tenants are responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $240 billion in goods, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.
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