As the boating season sets sail this May long weekend, more people will be sharing the waterways. This year, in addition to following the standard safe boating practices, ensuring everyone’s safety on the water also includes practicing the social distancing measures we’ve grown accustomed to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of Safe Boating Awareness Week on May 16-22, Transport Canada and Canadian health authorities have issued guidance on safe physical distancing for boaters to help Canadian boaters be prepared on the water this season. These guidelines should be practiced alongside the safe boating guidelines set by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to maintain the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic within the Port of Vancouver.
Before setting sail on your watercraft, review these important reminders:
FOLLOW THE SAFE PHYSICAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES
Only take boaters from your immediate household with you on your boat. When preparing to leave the shore and on the water, keep a distance of at least two meters from other boats and people who don’t live in your household. For scale, that is the length of half a canoe or one fishing rod.
In instances when you can’t keep a distance, consider wearing a non-medical mask or face covering according to guidelines set by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
CHECK THE CURRENT CONDITIONS
Before you head out, check the weather, tide, currents, and water levels.
Make sure you adhere to the mandatory 15-knot speed restrictions.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Be aware of other boaters around you, including those on kayaks, paddle boards, and recreational boats.
NEVER GET BETWEEN A TUGBOAT AND ITS TOW
Tow cables are often submerged and not visible.
TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS WHEN BOATING AT NIGHT
If you decide to go boating after dark, go slower and be sure to have proper lighting and safety equipment on board.
MONITOR OFFICIAL RADIO CHANNELS
At all times, monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 on your radio. When on the Burrard Inlet, monitor 12 and when on the Fraser River, monitor 74.
Comply with the restricted areas and remember, five or more short and rapid blasts of a ship’s whistle means “danger – stay clear.”
BE PREPARED AND CONSULT OFFICIAL PUBLICATIONS
Ensure you have the up-to-date nautical charts for the area in which you are operating. Refer to the Port Information Guide for specific local requirements and traffic control zone procedures.
As well, be on the lookout for any dolphins, whales, porpoises, or other sea creatures while you’re out on the water. Boaters are encouraged to report any marine mammal sightings using the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network’s WhaleReport app. To reduce the risk of potential disturbance or collision with whale presence, real-time information is shared with the operators of commercial ships and ferries, enabling them to slow down or alter their course.
For more guidelines on marine activity safety, visit Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s website.