Vancouver Island Marinas - Marine Safety

Marine Safety

The ABCs of Flotation Devices

From: Transport Canada - Transport Publication - TP 14659 E

A large number of sport hunters and anglers die each year simply because they either neglected to wear their flotation devices or wore them impro perly. More alarming still is that the majority of these had the lifesaving devices on board their craft.

The regulation requires that each craft (regardless of the type of craft) have on board a Canadian-approved personal flotation device or lifejacket, of the appropriate size, for each individual on board.

Standards of Approval

To comply with the standards, you must ensure that the label inside the flotation device indicates that it has been approved by one of the following agencies:

Different Styles

Today you can choose from a wide range of personal flotation devices ( PFDs ) offered in a variety of different colours and styles. Hunters and anglers can now find PFDs designed specifically for their activity.

Certain types have greater room in the arms to permit aiming for hunters, or freer casting for fly fishers. Some are available in camouflage. Others offer compartments for storing fishing tackle and accessories (flies, lures, etc. ). Another style, which is light, comfortable and less bulky, is the inflatable type. (This one must be worn at all times to comply withstandards.)It is important to note that the most highly visible colours in the water are red, orange and yellow. Wearing these colours increases your chances of being located during a search and rescue operation.

Popular Misconception

It is incorrect to assume that it would be possible to easily locate and put on a flotation device once you have fallen into the water, even if you are a good swimmer. The following are examples of why:


Make sure you shop around for a flotation device that is appropriate for you. Ensure that the style you choose fits you comfortably and wear it at all times on the water. A flotation device, even within arm’s reach, is too far away. Checking the condition of your flotation device and trying it out in the water is strongly recommended.

Overloading and Stability

It is extremely dangerous to overload your craft. The most common cause of drowning during recreational boating is capsizing, followed closely by falling overboard. Many precautions may be taken to reduce loss of life:

Maximum Load

It is important to note that the maximum load calculation is based on use during fair weather conditions with a well-distributed load.

Reminder The number of occupants that may be safely transported depends on the type of craft, the weight and distribution of on board equipment and weather conditions.

Alcohol Consumption

The consumption of alcohol in a pleasure craft is much more dangerous than most people realize. Fatigue, sun, wind and the rocking movement of the boat may dull your senses. Alcohol intensifies this effect, reducing your reaction time, your judgment and, consequently, your ability to navigate your craft.

It is as dangerous and illegal to boat while under the influence of alcohol, as it is to drive a vehicle on land while intoxicated.

Impaired operation of a watercraft is illegal and constitutes an infraction of the Criminal Code of Canada. Anyone operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol is committing an infraction that could result in them losing their automobile driver’s license.

Keeping this in mind, wait until the day of fishing or hunting has ended before having a drink. Don’t forget that you are responsible not only for your own safety, but also for the safety of others on board.

Did You Know?

Drinking one alcoholic beverage aboard a boat is the equivalent to drinking three on land.

Mandatory Safety Equipment

During each outing, examine the condition of your equipment and ensure that you have all the required safety equipment on board. The minimum requirements are based upon the craft’s length. For a motorized craft no greater than 6 metres (19 feet 8 inches) in length, the following equipment is required:

The two last items (in yellow) are not mandatory if your craft is not equipped with a motor (canoe, kayak, etc. ).

Did You Know?

All requirements apply to you even if you are just renting or borrowing a craft, regardless of its size. The responsibility for possessing required equipment is shared equally by the lessor and lessee. Remember that the equipment must be in good working order, easily accessible and useable by everyone on board.


Apart from the required equipment, certain items could be extremely useful in order for you to have a pleasant time on the water. If your trip is for several hours, you should have with you:

Hypothermia and Survival in Cold Water

Fishing and hunting are activities that generally start early and end late in the boating season. Waters are usually cold during those periods, exposing you and other recreational boaters to hypothermia and cold shock.

Cold shock is probably responsible for more deaths than hypothermia. A sudden exposure to cold waters can instantly paralyze your muscles, leave you breathless, cause you to swallow water and suffocate you within moments of immersion. Should you survive the shock of the cold water, hypothermia is the next imminent danger.

Hypothermia is a drop of body temperature below normal (37° C ) that results from a prolonged exposure to frigid waters. The signs and symptoms of the three different stages of hypothermia are:

Should you find yourself in the water it is essential to do everything possible to conserve your energy and body heat. To lengthen your survival time, the following is important:

Popular Misconception

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not warm you up but, rather, has the opposite effect. It is preferable to drink a warm, sugared, non-alcoholic drink that is free of caffeine.


Wear layered clothing under a windbreaker rather than one thick layer. Wool, even when wet, retains more heat than synthetics (polyester).

Pre-departure Checklist

Before setting out, it is important to verify certain elements to ensure the safety of all aboard:

Did You Know?

A good rule of thumb regarding fuel is to ration one-third for the trip out, one-third for the return and one-third as reserve.

Need Help?

In case of emergency, it is important to know how to send distress signals and ask for help; it could mean the difference between life and death:

Did You Know?

To function properly, the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon must be registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry by calling 1-800-727-9414.

Sail Plan

Whether leaving for a few hours or several days, a sail plan remains one of your most important lifesaving tools.

The sail plan holds information on the route you plan to take as well as details about your watercraft and the people accompanying you on board.

It is important to always leave a sail plan with a responsible person before setting out. The person should be advised to alert the appropriate authorities (Coast Guard or police) in the event that you fail to return on schedule, so that they may come to your rescue.

When undertaking a long trip it is recommended to report your location daily.


Always let the person you entrusted with your sail plan know of your return to avoid unnecessarily deploying a search.

Navigating in Commercial Shipping Channels

The Importance of Proper Training

Whether you own, rent or borrow a pleasure craft, there are rules and information that you must know before setting out. Furthermore, you have the same responsibilities as other boaters (pleasure craft or personal watercraft operators).


If you are loaning your boat, ensure that the operator knows the existing Canadian regulations and safety measures to follow. Take the time to ensure proper familiarization with the boat’s handling and that he or she holds any required competency cards.

According to the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations, all operators of a motorized pleasure craft, on all Canadian waterways, must obtain proof of competency for navigating the craft before 2009. This is already mandatory for any person born after April 1, 1983, and for those navigating crafts of less than 4 metres (13 feet 1 inch) of length. All other boaters must obtain certification before September 15, 2009.

The best way to obtain proof of competency is to take a course and to successfully complete an accredited boat safety test. Learning proper navigational techniques and becoming well acquainted with existing regulations will allow you to use your pleasure craft safely and fully enjoy your preferred sport.

Did You Know?

Occasional users wishing to lease a motorized craft must obtain temporary proof of competency with each rental by co-signing a rental boat safety checklist with the lessor before setting out. This allows the operator to be familiar with the proper functioning of the craft, the geographic characteristics and any hazards that might be present in the area, as well as boating safety rules.

The operator must have on board a copy of the verification list signed by both parties as proof of competency.

Marine and Air Search and Rescue Emergency Telephone Numbers Act smart and call early in an emergency. The sooner your call, the sooner help will arrive. Pacific Coast Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria 1-800-567-5111 or 1-250-363-2333