To mark North American Safe Boating Awareness Week, BC Ferries is reminding everyone to stay safe on the water, especially when navigating near ferries.
The company ramps up its service during the spring and summer months, with more ferries plying their routes.
“We have some of the most beautiful waters in the world for boating in B.C. and we want everyone to share the ocean safely,” says Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ chief operating officer.
BC Ferries asks pleasure craft operators to use caution when boating near ferry lanes and BC Ferries’ terminals and reminds mariners to learn the ferry signals.
One long blast – while the ferry is in dock – indicates it is about to depart. Three short blasts indicates the ferry is about to go astern (in reverse) and five or more short blasts in rapid succession is a warning that it is unclear if the pleasure craft ahead is manoeuvering in such a way that it can avoid a collision.
Recreational boaters are asked to avoid crowding the ferry in narrow channels such as Active Pass, steer clear of the berths and docks, and avoid crossing dangerously close in front of the ferry.
“Boaters should keep in mind that ferries do not manoeuver as easily as smaller boats,” said Storey. “It can take up to 10 ship lengths for a ferry to come to a complete stop in an emergency.”
With approximately 500 sailings per day and a fleet of 36 vessels, BC Ferries’ crews are often called on to respond to emergencies at sea, when requested by the Canadian Coast Guard.
The company says their crews are well trained and maintain their skills by regularly performing fire drills, evacuation simulations and person-overboard scenarios.
Last year, BC Ferries responded to 15 marine emergencies, which are usually more prevalent in the summer months as more pleasure boaters take to the water.
North American Safe Boating Awareness Week runs through May 24. This year’s campaign reminds mariners to wear life jackets, take a boating course and understand the dangers of cold-water immersion. Pleasure boaters are also encouraged to abstain from drinking alcohol while operating a boat.
For more information visit csbc.ca.