September 17th, 2018 - Toronto, ON - Boating in the fall offers colourful vistas,
quiet anchorages and excellent fishing but it is not without its challenges that
necessitate self-sufficiency and taking some additional precautions to keep from
running into trouble.
The Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) and the Ontario Conservation Officers Association
(OCOA) want to remind all boaters enjoying the fall season on the water to follow
these tips to ensure that their excursions are both safe and enjoyable.
Before heading out, be sure to check the weather forecast. The mixing of warm and
cold air can quickly spawn high winds and waves making it treacherous for small
boats. Fog, too, is an issue at this time of year making visibility difficult. Should
boaters find themselves in a fog bank, they should proceed slowly and sound their
horn at regular intervals to alert other boaters of their presence.
Well into October, daytime temperatures can occasionally be balmy but dressing for
the water temperature will help slow the onset of hypothermia should the unexpected
happen and the boater find himself in the water. Accidental cold water immersion
can be shocking, but people shouldn't panic. It may take a minute or so to get their
breathing under control after the initial shock but they will have at least 10-15
minutes, even in very cold water, to affect self-rescue before they start to lose
muscle control in their arms and legs. This is where an approved lifejacket, either
inflatable or inherently buoyant, is an essential part of a boater's wardrobe to
keep them afloat after they can no longer swim.
In the fall, there are fewer other boats on the water to offer assistance, if needed.
Boaters should be sure to leave a float plan with a responsible person on shore
who will know what to do if they're overdue. A marine radio or cell phone will allow
them to call for assistance should the need arise. Having a few tools and spare
parts aboard will also allow them to fix minor problems that might otherwise cause
them to be stranded out on the water.
It's important that boaters ensure that their boat and engine are in good shape
and mechanically sound. Ethanol-based fuel can allow water contamination in the
tank. The use of a fuel additive prevents water in the fuel line from freezing which
could cause the engine to chug to a halt. If the boat has portable fuel tanks, it's
a good idea to have a spare on board as a reserve.
When boaters head out, they should be wary of reduced water levels that can result
after a long, hot and dry summer season. Some of a boater's favourite shallow water
fishing holes may be inaccessible at this time of year. Also, while underway, they
should keep a sharp lookout for debris and chunks of ice that could penetrate the
boat's hull at speed.
"Spectacular colours, peaceful solitude and the crispness of the air make boating
in the fall a wondrous experience," says John Gullick, Chair of the Canadian Safe
Boating Council. "To make the most of this experience safely, however, boaters need
to be extra diligent in their preparations before departing. Most important of these
are checking the weather, dressing for the water temperature, wearing a lifejacket
and leaving a float plan with a responsible person on shore who can call for help
should the need arise."
"Our members always wear their PFDs when on patrol," says OCOA President Sean Cronsberry,
"I strongly encourage everyone to wear their PFD or lifejacket while on the water,
whether they are hunting, fishing or trapping, especially this time of year with
the dropping in water temperature."
"To Ontario's hunters using a vessel to access their blind or stand and to the angler
trying to catch a big fish may be the goal, but making it home safely should be
the top priority when on the water."
Now that fall is here, boaters should make the most of what's left of the boating
season before the cold weather hits. By exercising a little caution and an ability
to be self-sufficient when out on the water, they can more fully enjoy nature's
splendour and quiet waterways. Visit www.csbc.ca for more tips on boating safety.