Boaters are reminded to keep safety a top priority this summer
As we continue to see an increase of recreational boating on the waterways during summer months, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is strongly encouraging boaters to follow important safety guidelines. While it’s a great time to go boating in the sunshine, it’s also important we each do our part to help keep everyone safe on the water.
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 vessel traffic.
Boaters heading out on the waterways in the Port of Vancouver are advised to review our safe boating tips:
- Follow safe, physical distancing guidelines – Transport Canada has shared guidelines for COVID-19 Physical Distancing for Canadian Boaters. Avoid unnecessary contact with other boaters, don’t share your boating equipment and maintain a distance of at least two metres from other people and boats.
- Watch out for large ships– Large, deep-sea cargo ships have limited visibility. Don’t assume they can see you. They also can’t move quickly, especially in narrow channels. Even if you have the right-of-way, you must yield to them.
- Never get between a tugboat and its tow – Tow cables are often submerged and not visible.
- Be aware of speed restrictions – Waterways are busier in the summer season, so it’s important to operate your boat at a safe speed, Consult our port information guide to follow speed limits, which includes new restrictions in Indian Arm.
- Be mindful of others – Keep a sharp look out for kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, and other human-powered water craft. Avoid boating in swimming areas.
- Think about conditions – Consider environmental conditions, such as wind, weather, currents and tides, to help you prepare for the safest route. During summer months, the freshnet runoff can increase current flows, debris, and water levels. These changes have a significant impact on bridge clearances and river bed depth in the Fraser River. In the event you require assistance, contact Marine Communications and Traffic Services on VHF channel 16 or *16 on a mobile phone.
- Remain in communication – Monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 at all times to learn about restricted areas. In Burrard Inlet, monitor VHF 12 and on the Fraser River 74. Pay attention to the following warning signals: one prolonged blast is a warning, and five or more short and rapid blasts of a ship’s whistle means “danger – stay clear.”
- Report incidents – If you see anyone violating safe boating practices, contact the Port Authority Operations Centre 24/7 at 604.665.9086 to report the incident. In an emergency, press *16 on your mobile phone, VHF: 16 on your radio or, as always, you can phone 911.
- Bring along necessary equipment – Equip your boat with precautionary safety items, such as a flashlight, whistle and a sound-signalling device. Ensure everyone is wearing a lifejacket or a personal flotation device.
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.
During your boating trip, you may get lucky and see a whale, dolphin or porpoise. If you do, please report your sighting using the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network’s WhaleReport app. Real-time information is sent to the crew and pilots of large commercial vessels so they can adjust their speed to reduce the risk of disturbing marine mammals.
- 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
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