Safe boating: What you need to know to stay safe on the water this summer
Planning to take the boat out this weekend? Before applying your sunscreen and perfecting your playlist, take some time to review the safe boating guidelines ahead of setting sail.
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.
Ahead of the B.C. Day long weekend, the port authority is reminding recreational boaters to keep clear of port operations and commercial activity areas to stay safe on the water. Remember, the waterways don’t have traffic signals, so it is important to review and follow the safe boating practices.
If you’re planning to stay on the water for the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks, take note of the marine traffic safety restrictions and exclusion areas and ensure you’re complying with the rules of the water. Check out the Transport Canada website for more details.
Here are 10 reminders for how to stay safe on the water this summer:
- Check current conditions – Check weather, tide, currents and water levels before you head out.
- 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.
- Pay attention to your surroundings – Always be aware of other vessels around you and comply with the 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.
- Go slowly – The waters are busier in the summer. Go a little slower, give yourself more time and plan your day accordingly.
- Be prepared to move – Large, deep-sea vessels 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.
- Consult official publications – To avoid collision, look at nautical charts for depth surroundings and our Marine Operations page for bridge and transit procedures.
- Never get between a tugboat and its tow – Tow cables are often submerged and not visible. Click thumbnail below to view and download video of a near-miss incident.
- Listen for aircraft – Float planes landing or taking off need plenty of space. Keep clear of aircraft landing area.
- 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.
- 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.
Subscribe to our marine operations email list to receive updates from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. We’ll notify you of changes and amendments to our Port Information Guide’s practices and procedures as they happen.
- VIDEO: Port authority safety cameras capture a dangerous near-miss for a recreational boater crossing between a tugboat and its tow [MP4]
- See the safe boating guidelines for the Port of Vancouver for a map of the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet as well as hazards to watch for.
- For up-to-date information on safety tips and requirements for pleasure crafts, see Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety.
- See our Port Information Guide 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 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.
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