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Winter Boating Safety

As Hartley Bay and Prince Rupert are both boating communities, it’s important to know how to be safe on the water throughout the winter season.

Standard Safety Equipment

No matter the time of year, boaters must keep certain boat safety equipment on hand in case of emergency—though there are minor differences in what’s required depending on the type of vessel.

In general, boat safety equipment includes:

  • A personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket for each person on board

  • A buoyant heaving line that is a minimum of 15 metres

  • A manual propelling device (such as a paddle) or anchor with at least 15 metres of rope, cable, or chain

  • A bailer or hand pump

  • A sound-signaling device (such as a whistle or air horn)

  • Navigation lights

  • A class 5BC fire extinguisher

  • A waterproof flashlight or approved flares

  • A vessel license boats with a motor that has a motor of 10 hp or more

Additional Considerations for Winter Boating

Boat safety through the cold months is critical, and preparedness is key. Here is a list of 10 boating tips if you’re on the water during the cold season.

  1. Check the weather. If the forecast isn’t favourable, postpone your trip. Once you’re on the water, keep track of the weather and watch for ice formations.

  2. Make sure your boat and motor are well-maintained. Winter months are the worst time to have a breakdown. Ensure you’re on top of your boat maintenance and confident in your vessel.

  3. Check your equipment. Ensure your radio, GPS, batteries, fuel tank, and everything else is working, charged, and gassed up.

  4. Bring somebody with you. Having an extra pair of hands and eyes is always a good thing—especially if you get into trouble.

  5. Leave your details with somebody on land. As an added precaution, always let somebody know where you’re going, when you’re leaving, when you expect to be back, and at what point they need to alert authorities if they haven’t heard from you.

  6. Dress appropriately. Warm layers and appropriate footwear are a must. Depending on how often you will be on the water, you may want to invest in a good quality float coat or survival suit.

  7. Keep your hands and toes warm. Hand and toe warmers, electric socks, and boot-warming insoles work wonders. Bring a couple of extra pairs of gloves along because they are always useful—especially if one pair gets wet.

  8. Cover your face and protect your eyes. You need to shield yourself against the wind chill, especially in a fast-moving boat. Cover your face with a balaclava and wear ski goggles to cover your eyes.

  9. Always wear your PFD. Stay safe by wearing your lifejacket properly the entire time you are on the boat. If disaster strikes, you’ll be better prepared.

  10. Keep your back to the bow and go low. Passengers should face the stern while the boat is running. Staying low to the ground can also minimize the chill from the wind.

Avoid Risks

The big takeaway of winter boating safety is not to take chances. Learn how to survive in cold water and pack extra supplies—such as food, water, blankets, and clothes—so you are prepared for changing conditions.

How do you prepare for the winter boating season? Let us know in the comments.


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