5 Tips For Safe Summer On The Water

Before you hit the water, make sure you’ve taken safety precautions with your boat.

1.  Do an Engine Service

If you didn’t do an engine service in the fall, now is an ideal time to have the manufacturer’s engine service completed by a certified marine mechanic.
Residual acids and moisture can collect in the engine oil and damage your engine over the winter.  Most manufacturers recommend an engine service the sooner of 100 hours or once a year often including oil change, oil filter change, onboard fuel filter change, fuel water separator service, engine anodes replacement, water pump service, and multiple inspection items.

2.  Test and Inspect Batteries and Charging Performance

Boaters often discover their boat won’t start in the spring due to failed batteries or poor charging. Early detection minimizes damage and expense and prevents getting stranded.

3.  Test Bilge Pumps and Identify Sinking Risks

Rain storms on the BC Coast are often blamed for sunken client boats we lift out of the water from Fall to Spring.  However, the real culprit is often a failed bilge pump and/or a fault in the canvas or other leak into the bilge.
Have your bilge pump electrical system tested once a year, repair any leaks you might have noticed, and check regularly for any signs of water collection in the bilge.

4.  Change Sterndrive / Outboard Gear Oil

Don’t let your sterndrive or outboard lower unit sit for many months with contaminated or watery gear oil.
Have the gear oil drained, inspected, and replaced one or more times per year and according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.  Ask your service provider if they recommend sending the gear oil to the lab to identify any leaks, metal shavings or other emerging problems so they don’t manifest.

5. Check Your Safety Equipment

– VHF Radio
If you have a VHF radio, know how to use it and test both receive and transmit.  If you don’t have a VHF radio, get one – it’s one of the most important pieces of safety equipment on your boat.

– Canadian-approved flotation devices for every passenger
Look for a lifejacket or PFD with a label that states it has been approved by Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries & Oceans Canada or any combination thereof. Lifesaving cushions are not approved as personal flotation equipment on any vessel.

– Sound-producing devices
Vessel less than 12 m (39 feet) need a  sounds-signalling device if they are not fitted with a sound signalling appliance. 12 meter (39 feet) or greater vessel must have a fitted whistle.

– Lights
Check if you have required navigation lights and if they are working properly, carry a flashlight and spare batteries on board

– Distress signals
Store flares in a dry and accessible location at all times even if not required by Transport Canada, inform passengers of their location and safety rules for proper usage

– Docking and anchoring
Have at least one anchor onboard, attached to the anchor line, two fenders for docking and have a couple of spare dock lines onboard

– Documentation
Boat registration, radio license, fishing permits, Pleasure Craft Operators card and local charts

– Fire Extinguisher
Carry at least one and make sure it is accessible

– Tools and spares
– First aid kit