Boat Safety | Boating BC Association

SAFE BOATING

 

WE BELIEVE AN INFORMED, CONFIDENT BOATER IS A SAFE BOATER.

While boating can be an extraordinary experience, it comes with inherent risk. It doesn’t matter what type of boating you enjoy, or if you buy, borrow or rent, it’s your responsibility to ensure you are well-trained and informed about how to stay safe on the water.

The go-to resource for safety is Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide, which you can download here. It outlines much of what you’ll need to know to stay safe on the water, including the minimum requirements for safety equipment on pleasure craft. For easy reference, we’ve listed the minimum safety equipment requirements below. Boat Notes is another abbreviated version of the Safe Boating Guide and is an excellent reference.

The five key steps to safer boating:*

  1. Wear Your Lifejacket. Legally you must carry a Canadian approved PFD on board, appropriately sized for each passenger. But don't just carry it, WEAR IT.
  2. Don't Drink and Boat. Boating under the influence is not just illegal; it's irresponsible. Wait until you get back to the pier or drop anchor at the end of the day before you enjoy that cold beer or glass of wine.
  3. Take a Boating Course. The law now requires that anyone driving a motorized boat must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. In fact, for your own safety and that of your passengers, we recommend you take additional boating courses.
  4. Be Prepared. Ensure your boat has all the required safety gear and sufficient fuel. Be sure the weather is suitable for your vessel's capabilities, and that you have sail or float plan that you’ve shared with someone before departure.
  5. Beware of Cold Water Risks. Cold water is a significant risk. Learn how to protect yourself.

*adapted from the Canadian Safe Boating Council www.csbc.ca.

 

MINIMUM SAFETY EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS BY BOAT TYPE & LENGTH.

 

Boat Type + Length

Personal Lifesaving Appliances

Visual Signals

Vessel Safety Equipment

Navigation Equipment

Fire Fighting Equipment

 

Paddleboats

 

Watercycles

 

Sealed-Hull and Sit-on-Top Kayaks

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

 

If boat is over 6 m:

  • One (1) watertight flashlight
  • Six (6) flares of type A, B or C (See Note 2)

 

  • One (1) bailer OR One manual bilge pump (See Note 3) OR Bilge-pumping arrangements

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

None

Canoes

 

Kayaks

 

Rowboats

 

Rowing Shells

 

Other Human Powered Boats

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

If boat is over 6 m:

 

  • One (1) watertight flashlight
  • Six (6) flares of type A, B or C (See Note 2)

 

  • One (1) bailer OR One manual bilge pump (See Note 3) OR Bilge-pumping arrangements

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

None

*If everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of appropriate size, you are only required to carry:

  1.  a sound-signalling device; and
  2. a watertight flashlight if the boat is used after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.

 

 

Sailboards

 

Kiteboards

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board*
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

 

 

None

 

  • One (1) manual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump (See Note 3)

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signaling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

 

None

*If everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of appropriate size, you are only required to carry :

  1. a sound-signalling device; and
  2. a watertight flashlight if the boat is used after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.

NOTE: Kiteboarders and sailboarders should not wear a lifejacket or PFD that is fitted with an automatic inflator.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

 

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board*
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

 

  • One (1) watertight flashlight OR Three (3) flares of type A, B or C (See Note 2)

 

 

  • One (1) manual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump (See Note 3)

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

 

  • One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher

 

*If every person on board a personal watercraft is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of an appropriate size, you are only required to carry:

  1. a sound-signalling device;
  2. a watertight flashlight or three pyrotechnic distress signals other than smoke signals;
  3. a magnetic compass if the personal watercraft is navigated out of sight of navigation marks; and
  4. navigation lights if the personal watercraft is used after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.

NOTE: Lifejacket or PFD must be inherently buoyant.

 

Sail and Power Boats up to 6 m (19’8”)

 

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

 

If boat is equipped with a motor:

  • One (1) watertight flashlight OR Three (3) flares of type A, B or C (See Note 2)

 

 

  • One (1) manual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump (See Note 3)

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector

 

 

  • One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with an inboard engine, a fixed fuel tank of any size, or a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

 

 

Sail and Power Boats over 6 m and up to 9 m (19’8” - 29’6”)

 

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long OR One (1) lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line

 

  • One (1) watertight flashlight
  • Six (6) flares of type A, B or C (See Note 2)

 

 

  • One (1) manual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump (See Note 3)

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

 

  • One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor
  • One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

 

 

Sail and Power Boats over 9 m and up to 12 m (29’6” – 39’4”)

 

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long
  • One (1) lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

 

 

  • One (1) watertight flashlight
  • Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of type D (See Note 2)

 

 

  • One (1) anchor and at least 30 m (98’5”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One (1) manual bilge pump (See Note 3) OR Bilge-pumping arrangements

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

 

  • One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor
  • One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

 

 

Sail and Power Boats over 12 m and up to 24 m (39’4” – 78’9”)

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49 ’3”) long
  • One (1) lifebuoy equipped with a self-igniting light or attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

 

 

  • One (1) watertight flashlight
  • Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of type D (See Note 2)

 

  • One (1) anchor and at least 50 m (164’1”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • Bilge-pumping arrangements

 

 

  • One (1) sound-signalling appliance. Two required if the boat is 20 m and over that meets the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass that meets the requirements set out in the Navigation Safety Regulations (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

 

  • One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher at all of the following locations: at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted; at the entrance to any accommodation space; and at the entrance to the machinery space.
  • One (1) axe
  • Two (2) buckets of at least 10 L each

 

 

Sail and Power Boats over 24 m (78’9”)

 

 

  • One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
  • One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
  • One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 30 m (98’5”) long
  • Two (2) SOLAS lifebuoys, of which: one (1) is attached to a buoyant line at least 30 m (98 ’5”) long; and one (1) is equipped with a self-igniting light.
  • Lifting harness with appropriate rigging

 

  • One (1) watertight flashlight
  • Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of type D (See Note 2)

 

  • One (1) anchor and at least 50 m (164’1”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • Bilge-pumping arrangements

 

 

  • Two (2) sound-signalling appliances that meets the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations
  • Navigation lights (See Note 4)
  • One (1) magnetic compass that meets the requirements set out in the Navigation Safety Regulations (See Note 5)
  • One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

 

 

  • One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher at all of the following locations: at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted; at the entrance to any accommodation space; and at the entrance to the machinery space.
  • One (1) power-driven fire pump located outside the machinery space, with one fire hose and nozzle that can direct water into any part of the boat
  • Two (2) axes
  • Four (4) buckets of at least 10 L each

 

Note 1 – Reboarding Device

A reboarding device is only required if the vertical height that a person must climb to reboard the boat from the water (freeboard) is over 0.5 m (1’8”).

 

Note 2 – Flares

Flares are not required for a boat that is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than one (1) nautical mile (1.852 km) from shore; or has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition.

 

Note 3 – Bailer and Manual Bilge Pump

A bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or a boat that has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible.

 

Note 4 – Navigation Lights

Navigation lights are only required if you operate the boat after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility (fog, falling snow, etc.).

 

Note 5 – Magnetic Compass

A magnetic compass is not required if the boat is 8 m (26’3”) or less and you operate it within sight of navigation marks.

 

Note 6 – Radar Reflector

Radar reflectors are required for boats under 20 m (65’7”) and boats built of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is used in limited traffic conditions, daylight and favourable environmental conditions, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to the boat’s safety; or the small size of the boat or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install or use a radar reflector.

Source: Safe Boating Guide, Transport Canada

 

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The Safe Boating App

Discover Boating's free safe boating app features everything you need to ensure a safe and fun time on the water:

  • Interactive checklists to make sure you have everything you need before you are underway.
  • Check your weather forecast, know your signals and know your destination.
  • Useful boating tips, and everything from PFDs to visual references for navigation buoys and more.
  • Contact numbers for Search and Rescue, RCMP, most municipal marine police units, as well as some basic emergency procedures.