Speak to any recreational boater from Victoria to St. John’s and it becomes readily apparent that for many of us, boating is much more than just an activity.  

It’s a burning passion that beckons us to the water — be it to fish, ski, wakeboard, cruise, race, or simply set the hook in a favourite anchorage to drop our cares over the side.   Better yet, this passion is something we can share with everyone in the family.  Magically, the normal, “do we have to go?” from the kids turns into, “when can we go?”

“To enjoy your on-water experience to the fullest, safety is paramount.”

Trailering a boat also opens new vistas of discovery for those with a dose of wanderlust.  Talking to your friends and colleagues about their favourite vacation destinations can give you plenty of options to try somewhere new this season.  Picking up nautical charts for the new lake will allow you to do some pre-scouting of boat launches, ideal fishing holes, anchorages and — more importantly — hazards to avoid. 

Safety: the key to fun

To enjoy your on-water experience to the fullest, safety is paramount. This applies whether you own a canoe, kayak, sailboat, powerboat, or personal watercraft.  

The Canadian Safe Boating Council asks that you keep the following five key messages top of mind as you enjoy your boating season:

  • Always wear your lifejacket or PFD  Wearing a properly fitting, Canadian government-approved lifejacket or PFD that’s in good and serviceable condition will save your life should the unexpected occur.
  • Don’t drink and boat Alcohol is a contributing factor in approximately 40 percent of all boating fatalities in Canada.
  • Enhance your boating skills The more you know, the more confident you will be in skippering your boat safely. Along with the necessary boaters’ licence in Canada, there are free boating courses available from accredited dealerships, such as The Women and Children Making Waves® initiaves.
  • Be prepared Make sure you know and have on board all the safety equipment mandated for your type and size of boat. Keep your boat’s engine properly maintained and check to see that you have enough fuel. Be sure to also check the weather forecast before departing.
  • Be aware of the dangers of cold water immersion Many of our lakes remain cold throughout the boating season, so be sure to dress for the water temperature rather than the air temperature to slow the onset of hypothermia should your boat capsize or sink.

So, be sure to indulge your passion this summer.  Get out on the water every chance you get and take in all the beauty that our Canadian waterways provide.    By adopting these few safe boating behaviours and teaching your children to do so as well, you’ll be building memories that will keep you and your family warm long after the season has passed.