Here are the safety guidelines recreational boaters NEED to know before enjoying the water in Vancouver



Photo: Unsplash / Ian Keefe

According to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, “near miss incidents” have increased as the waterways in the Vancouver harbour have gotten busier with recreational watercraft and commercial ship traffic sharing the waters in the summer months.

With the summer season now in full swing and many of the city’s recreational boaters eager to feel the ocean breeze cascade across their face (who could blame them), we’ve partnered with the port authority to bring you the essential safety tips you need to know before getting on the water this summer in Vancouver.


Photo: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Out on the water, there are traffic rules to follow and hazards to watch out for. Keep an eye out for larger, deep-sea ships that have limited visibility – don’t assume they can see you – and NEVER cross a tugboat and its tow. Remember, tow cables are often submerged and not visible.

Also, boating at night is very different from the daytime. It’s more difficult to see your surroundings when it’s dark out, so it is important to have the proper lighting and safety equipment on board and to go slower. Take extra precautions on the water especially during the summer when there are more people out on the water and staying out late for special events such as fireworks.


Remember to listen for and attend to signals from other vessels. Particularly when you hear five or more short blasts from a ship’s whistle, which  “danger – stay clear”. Listen for aircraft engines too; float planes landing and taking off need plenty of space.


Photo: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Always be prepared to move out of the way: large, deep-sea ships can’t move quickly, especially in narrow channels. Remember, even if you have the right-of-way, you must yield to them. If you witness dangerous behaviour, or need to report an accident, contact the Port Operations Centre at 604.665.9086. In an emergency, and to report impaired boating, call 911.

These are just basic boating guidelines, but it’s so important to familiarize yourself with the rules and safety precautions for Vancouver’s busiest boating areas. You can view safety guidelines for Burrard Inlet HERE and the Fraser River HERE.

The port authority wants everyone to enjoy the waterways this summer. To learn more, visit