Boating and sailing

Before boating 

  • Ensure the boat is in good working order. 
  • Check the weather forecast and wind strength. 
  • Check the people you are boating with about their ability to swim. Ask if they have any special medical conditions or allergies. 
  • Assign someone to be the lookout for possible obstructions and environmental problems. 
  • Have your boating licence and qualifications up to date. 
  • Think ahead about the management of acute medical conditions on board such as heart attacks. 

Motor boat tips

  • Ensure that a motor boat operator has taken Take Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) accredited course on boating competence and safety.
  • As of Sept. 15, 2009, all operators of powered boats in Canada must have the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. 

Preventing propeller injuries 

  • Keep the boat away from swimming and diving areas. 
  • Ensure that passengers are seated before taking off in the boat. 
  • Do not start a boat with the engine already in gear. 
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on the seat back or bow. 

Sailing tips 

  • Check the weather forecast and the wind strength. If the wind exceeds 30km/hour, only experienced sailors should be on the water. 
  • Discuss the possibility of boom strikes with the crew. Decide who will call the “jibing” and “tacking” and practise ducking your heads to avoid the boom. Some experts recommend that helmets be worn to protect sailors during boom strikes. 
  • Wear shoes to protect feet from falling objects and other possible injury. Special sailing boots can be purchased. 
  • If sailing in cold and wet conditions, wear warm dry layers of clothing and a windproof jacket to help prevent heat loss and hypothermia. If sailing in the spring or autumn, consider wearing a hypothermia-protective flotation garment.
  • Try to sail within sight of others and when possible, sail with other passengers, as there is safety in numbers. 
  • The boat operator should have taken a boating safety course and should have experience operating a sailboat, especially if others on board are inexperienced sailors. 

General safety

  • Do not consume alcohol while boating to maintain proper judgment, reaction time, and proper body temperature. The legal limit for blood alcohol in boating is 80mg%. 
  • Wear a properly fitted Personal Floatation Device (PFD) at all times. Parents are important role models for their children and should wear a PFD as well. Do not stand up in the boat, especially while it is moving at high speeds. 
  • Do not overload the boat with more people than what it was designed for. 
  • Check regularly for changing weather conditions. 
  • Stay hydrated by drinking enough water before and after boating. Dehydration can cause disorientation and put a boater at a higher risk of injury. 
  • If possible, try to keep your boat within sight of the water police or other local boating authorities. 
  • Keep a working radio and first aid kit on board the boat. 
  • Wear sunglasses, a hat, and sun block for protection from the sun and to maintain optimum visibility. 
  • When boating in cold and wet conditions, wear layers of warm clothing and a wind proof jacket to help prevent heat loss and hypothermia.