Cottage season is nearly over and there are only a few more times to head up to the lake before winter settles in. Before closing up the cottage for the year, many of us like to take one last boat ride to gaze at the colourful autumn trees and enjoy the crisp air. Read these fall boating safety tips before you take the boat out.
1. Boat maintenance
Whether you’ve been back at the cottage recently or it was during the summer, be sure to inspect the boat before taking a cruise. Make sure there are no damages or cracks, the navigation lights, engine and safety equipment are all in working order. Check any spare parts or tools and see if any need to be replaced.
2. Wear a life jacket
Just as you would in the summer, it’s still important to wear a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) in the boat. Not only is it noticeable when it gets dark earlier, but it can save your life! With autumn, the frigid lake temperatures can cause an increased risk of hypothermia if any boaters fall into the water. Make sure all passengers have lifejackets which are the right size for them and have been approved by Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
3. Be prepared
It’s a good idea to be prepared and gas up the boat before you go. Around this time of year, there are fewer boats on the water, which means some fuel docks and marinas may close earlier, meaning you might not be able to fill up for the trip back. Also, check to see if there is an emergency preparedness kit on board with items such as extra clothes, drinking water, snacks, first aid kit, waterproof flashlights, flares, plugs, spare parts and additional fuel. Lastly, make sure you or a passenger on the boat is carrying a Pleasure Craft Operators Card on board. It’s Federal law to carry this card, regardless of the size of the boat. Although, for boats with 10 horsepower or more, your boat should have a Pleasure Craft License.
4. Float plan
A float plan (also called a sail trip or rescue plan) is letting someone know where you’re planning to go and how long you will be in case something happens while you’re boating. It’s a good idea to let a family member or friend at your cottage know beforehand in case they need to come help or contact a Rescue Coordination Centre if you’re late.
5. The weather
Be sure to check the weather forecast before you start planning the boat trip and the lake conditions to see if it’s too windy or how strong the waves are. The days get shorter in the fall and depending on what time you are on the boat, be equipped for nightfall. Fog can also be a concern for this time of year. If you are out on the water and find yourself in a fog bank, proceed slowly and sound the horn to alert other boaters. With this season, we tend to dress in layers and this is important for boating as well. Avoid wearing jeans and cotton shirts, as they don’t dry easily or preserve heat. For additional coverage, it’s a good idea to bring a separate bag of sweaters and jackets on the boat, in case bad weather strikes.
It’s also a good time to review your boat insurance policy. Desjardins Insurance offers versatile coverage for all your boating needs.
Happy and safe boating!