May 22 to May 28 is North American Safe Boating Awareness Week and Ladysmith’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 29 has a series of tips to keep boaters safe.
RCMSAR 29 member Brian Cromp has served with the station for 17 years. Cromp says that one of the biggest threats to boaters is getting distracted and losing their awareness of what’s happening on the water.
“People have a tendency of becoming distracted by the activities going on on their boat and end up on the wrong side of buoys or going too fast for sea conditions.”
Another common issue is the presence of logs in the waters around Ladysmith, Saltair and Chemainus. When boaters are distracted and driving too quickly, they’re far more likely to have catastrophic collisions with logs. Floating logs show very little profile above the surface of the water, making it difficult for both boaters and radar systems to notice them.
“We have an exceptionally high number of logs and debris that are in the water,” Cromp said. “For those boaters that are out during the daytime and are sometimes returning in the dusk hours, they don’t necessarily see them and often they’re driving too fast for their vision. We’ve actually had — in years gone by — fatalities associated with people striking logs and log booms.”
Even RCMSAR vessels have struck logs during nighttime operations. But RCMSAR vessels are designed to withstand log impacts whereas the average pleasurecraft boat is not.
Cromp said that Ladysmith has been fortunate that there have not been many drowning deaths lately. However, RCMSAR often finds boaters are not wearing their life jackets, which greatly increasing the risk of drowning.
“Although the adults insist on kids wearing life jackets, kids are often the only ones that are wearing them. My fear is that just by putting a lifejacket on your child and not wearing one yourself, your child is going to get the opportunity of watching you drown.”
Some of the top tips for boating safely include:
1. Wearing a lifejacket.
2. Boating sober.
3. Be prepared. Both you and your boat.
4. Take a boating course.
5. Be aware of cold water risks.
If you do end up in trouble out on the water, rest assured that the members of RCMSAR 29 are well-trained and equipped to assist in an emergency. RCMSAR 29 has received multiple awards from the RCMSAR headquarters for their high-level training activities. All RCMSAR 29 members are volunteers and are fully committed to the safety of boaters in their area.
“We live in an area that is probably one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. The community provides so much to the people within the community… this is just our way of giving back to the community,” Cromp said.