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Recent near-miss incident in Burrard Inlet underscores need for better safe boating awareness

May 16, 2018

Spike in boating and paddling activity expected for May long weekend; boating safety reminders from the port authority

A recent near-miss incident between a recreational power boat and a SeaBus in Burrard Inlet highlights the need for increased safe boating awareness.

With a spike in recreational boating activity expected over the long weekend and in recognition of National Safe Boating Awareness week May 19 to 25, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is reminding recreational boaters and paddlers to keep clear of port operations and commercial activity areas to stay safe on the water. This includes activities in waterways around English Bay, First Narrows, Second Narrows, the Vancouver inner harbour, and the Fraser River.

“We typically see a spike in recreational boating activity throughout Burrard Inlet during the May long weekend when the weather warms up,” said Egge Kloosterboer, manager of marine operations and deputy harbour master at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “As more boaters and paddlers are out on the water, in addition to regular traffic through the port, it is important to review and follow the safe boating practices.”

If you’re planning to head out on the water this long weekend, make sure to take some time to review the port authority’s safe boating guidelines to ensure you’re complying with the rules of the water.

Here are 10 reminders to stay safe on the water:

  1. Check current conditions – Check weather, tide, currents and water levels before you head out. Summer temperatures bring additional navigation hazards to the Fraser River as the freshet runoff can increase current flows and waterlevels, debris, compromise clearances
    beneath bridges, and changes in elevation to river beds.
  2. Hug the shoreline – Steering clear of the deep-sea vessel route is key to maintaining safety for all on the water. Stay as close as possible to the shoreline as safe and practical to avoid incidents with commercial ships.
  3. Boating at night is different – It’s more difficult to see your surroundings at night, so be sure to have the proper lighting and safety equipment on board if boating at night. Take extra precaution and go slower.
  4. Pay attention to your surroundings – Always be aware of other vessels around you and comply with the restricted areas. If you hear five or more short and rapid blasts of a ship’s whistle, this means you’re in immediate danger and must clear the area. Monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 and 12 on your radio.
  5. Go slowly – The waters are busier this time of year. Go a little slower, give yourself more time and plan your day accordingly.
  6. Be prepared to move – Large, deep-sea 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.
  7. Consult official publications – To avoid collision, look at nautical charts for depth surroundings and our website for bridge and transit procedures.
  8. Never get between a tugboat and its tow – Tow cables are often submerged and not visible.
  9. Boat respectfully – Keep wake and wash to a minimum to avoid damage to sensitive habitat, property or other vessels. Remember, no wake when passing moored seaplanes.
  10. Report incidents – If you see anyone violating the safe boating practices, contact the Port Operations Center 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.

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.

For more information, visit to review the safe boating guides for the Burrard Inlet and Fraser River.

Further information:

  • Fraser River Safe Boating Guide [PDF]
  • Burrard Inlet 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
  • VIDEO: Port authority safety cameras capture a dangerous near-miss for a recreational boater in the Burrard Inlet
  • VIDEO: Near-miss incident between a tug and tow

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 $200 billion in goods, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.

Media contact:
Danielle Jang
Media Relations Advisor
[email protected]

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