Ontario is home to one-fifth of the world’s freshwater, with over 250,000 lakes!
Boating opportunities are endless and can be an extraordinary experience, but open water carries risks too. No matter what activity you enjoy, or your experience, make sure you know what you’re doing before dipping your toe in. For the safety of yourself and others, it is essential that you are fully prepared.
Plan a safe and fun day out on the water by keeping these tips in mind:
Learn how to launch your boat
Learn how to dock your boat
Don't drink or do drugs while boating
Wear a properly fitted life jacket
We Believe An Informed, Confident Boater Is A Safe Boater
Safety is Simple - Learn How to Launch Your Boat
Learning to safely and efficiently launch your boat is a very important skill for any boater.
Launching a boat is a skill that requires practice in order to do it comfortably. The best place to practice is in a low stress environment that is not too busy, and has a quality boat ramp.
It is important to respect others waiting in line, so we do the prep the boat BEFORE pulling up to the ramp.
When you arrive on site, find a place to park that is out of the way so you can prep your boat and trailer.
Once you're parked, you can prep your boat for launch.
- Start removing the canvas,
- Undo and remove the transom straps
- Replace the drain plug that has been removed
- Prep your mooring lines and fenders
- Load up any additional gear you may need
Once your prep is done and the ramp is clear, it's time to pull your vehicle up to the ramp and prepare to back in. It's best to line yourself up first so all you have to do is back straight down the ramp.
- Check all around you to ensure there is no one or anything around that you may back into. It's always a good idea to have someone outside the vehicle keeping an eye on you so they can let you know if you are getting close to anything.
- It's important to remember that if you steer to the right, the trailer will begin to push to the left and vice versa.
- Make SMALL adjustments when steering and backing up, using your mirrors to keep an eye on your trailer. Take your time. If you're feeling rushed, it is best to pull away from the ram and let others go ahead so you can take your time.
- Have someone hold the mooring lines on the boat as you back down the ramp.
- Once you've backed up far enough that the stern of the boat is floating, you can have someone carefully unclip the boat from the trailer.
- Continue to back up until the entire boat is floating and the person holding the mooring lines can pull it back and away from the trailer.
- Once the boat is floating and clear of the trailer, your spotter should give you the ok to pull forward. You can then slowly and carefully pull your vehicle forward and away from the ramp, and into a designated parking spot.
If you're not comfortable or having trouble with this process, don't be afraid to ask others for help.
Safety is Simple - Learn How to Dock Your Boat
Even for experienced boaters, docking boats can often be tricky.
Here are some tips that will help you dock your boat, while keeping your passengers,
other boaters, and those on shore, safe.
The first thing to remember is "Practice makes perfect!" Do not expect to be able to dock like a pro without putting in the time to learn properly.
- Boats don't have brakes and their momentum can be dangerous. A good rule of thumb is to not approach the dock faster than you would want to hit it with your boat.
- While you are approaching the dock, have your passengers prep and fenders, and mooring lines that will help you protect and control the boat once you get to the dock. Docking shouldn't be a one-person job, so communicate with your passengers what you expect of them so they can help you out.
- Be aware of any waves, current, or wind that may make docking more difficult. Always keep in mind what direction your boat is being pushed by the wind and the water as both will affect your ability to steer and control your boat.
- Try to approach the dock at a bit of an angle, rather than trying to pull along parallel beside it.
- Approach slowly.
- Shift in and out of neutral to control your speed.
- Once your bow gets close to the dock, briefly put the boat into reverse, and turn the steering wheel towards the dock. This will bring the stern of the boat towards the dock so your passengers can tie the boat to the dock.
There is no shame in taking more than one attempt if it means doing so safely and in a controlled manner. Practice makes perfect, so be sure to practice in a controlled, low stress environment to get comfortable docking your boat.
Safety is Simple - Don't Drink or Do Drugs and Boat
It goes without saying, but drugs and alcohol should not be mixed with boating!
If you are consuming alcohol or using drugs before or while you are on the water, you are not only breaking the law, but you are putting yourself and other boaters in danger.
Even under normal conditions, the motion of the boat combined with prolonged exposure to the sun and wind can dull your senses. When you add alcohol and/or drugs into the equation, your judgement, reflexes and coordination will be seriously compromised.
If you are stopped and found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties are the same as those for driving a car. You will lose your drivers licence!
Please remember to boat responsibly.
As the operator of a boat, remember that you are responsible for the safety not only of your passengers, but also other boaters on the water!
Safety is Simple - Wear a Properly Fitted Life Jacket
A personal flotation device (PFD) is something you wear that will keep you afloat should you enter the water. It is a legal requirement to have lifejackets on board your boat for each person on board.
All vessels - power, sail, canoe, kayak, paddle boards and personal watercraft fall into this law.
- A Transport Canada or Coast Guard approved life jacket must be carried on board for each person on the boat and be readily accessible. The tag inside the lifejacket will show that the lifejacket is certified and approved by either Transport Canada or the Canadian Coast Guard.
- Be aware that there are many lifejacket-style floatation devices that are not considered approved by Transport Canada or the Canadian Coast Guard. Water ski vests and many children's floats will not fulfill your lifejacket requirements.
- Life jackets assist with rescues and self-rescues, and can keep a person floating even if disabled or unconscious and offer protection in the event of an accident.
- Choosing the right lifejacket for the type of activity you are doing on the water can be the difference between life and death.
- Choosing the wrong type of lifejacket can leave you frustrated and unable to fully enjoy the activity you’re doing, increasing the temptation to remove it completely. Some designs offer insulation from cold water.
- All children under the age of 16 must have a lifejacket on while underway.
Lifejackets need to be appropriately sized.
A life jacket is not beneficial unless it is worn, but is also likely to be useless if it is poorly fitted, or has not been looked after. Take time to find a style of lifejacket that is comfortable to wear, fits properly and suits your needs.
To determine if a size is right:
- Put on the lifejacket and lift up from the shoulders. If it moves up past your nose or head, it is too big.