Safe Boating in Tofino
by Heather Shobe, Tofino
Nothing beats the freedom of hopping into your boat in Tofino and heading
off onto the cool waters of Clayoquot or Barkley Sound. Whether you're
headed to Cannery Bay for some R&R, on your way offshore in search
of the big one, or just on your way to work, boating is usually one
of a coastal dwellers most cherished pastimes.
Unfortunately, your day can be ruined by an accident, an injury at
sea or a breakdown. Many of us have been witness to the embarrassment
of someone stranded on a mud flat and waiting for the tide to come
up. Rocks and islands are often given the names of those who accidentally
wind up on top of them. Luckily, there are some really simple ways
to make boating more safe and enjoyable.
First and foremost -
Ensure you have the proper safety equipment on board, and that you
know how to use it. Tell someone familiar with you and your vessel
about your plans for the day, and give them an estimated time of
your return. How else will anyone know if something goes wrong and
Always have a radio or some means of communication. A handheld radio
can run as low as $300 these days, and you can even find them second
hand. If you are in immediate danger, send a Mayday with your position
on channel 16 of your VHF radio. Say "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday" followed
by your vessels name and your position three times. Tofino Coast Guard
Radio should hear this and will send appropriate aid to your location.
If you are using a cell phone, direct access to marine aid can be made
by dialling *311.
Is your vessel in good repair and ready for a day on the water? Most
breakdowns are simply the result of running out of fuel – a sure-fire
way to put a bummer on the rest of the day. Got fuel, and it still
won't run? Check your kill switches if you are so equipped, ensure
throttles are in neutral, fuel lines are connected and not kinked,
and that your fuel filter is not full of water. Batteries, fuses and
electrical connections should in good shape and free of corrosion.
Pump your gas ball, and turn the key for another try.
Check the weather and tide conditions. Continuous marine broadcasts
are available by calling 726-3415. Consider delaying your trip if
there are wind or fog advisories. Remember that weather can change
in the course of a couple hours.
Where in the fog are we?" If you do get caught, slow down, try
to get your bearings, and if you have to, call for help. Search and
Rescue vessels can use direction-finding equipment in conjunction with
your VHF radio to locate your position if necessary.
Plan your route. Always carry a local chart, and know what hazards,
rocks and mudflats may stand in your way. Charts will also provide
you with a foolproof way of finding some of our local treasures.
Look for black bears at the heads of small creeks, whales in muddy-bottomed
bays, and fish over anomalies in the ocean floor. You can also investigate
future anchorages or wilderness hikes.
Remember that water does not come equipped with road signs, or yellow
lines. We share these waterways, and there are rules regulating the
conduct of boaters in order to prevent accidents. These are known
as the Collision Regulations. They are international regulations that
apply to all mariners and the most basic ones are as follows.
If you meet another vessel head on, both vessels should alter course
to starboard (right) and the vessels should pass each other portside
(left) to portside. If two vessels are crossing one another (coming
together at an angle), the vessel that is on the right has the right
of way and should keep her course and speed. The vessel that is on
the left must alter course and stay out of the way. A vessel that
is overtaking (passing) another vessel must keep clear of the vessel
overtaken. Finally, if you run at night or in the fog, navigation
lights are a must. These are available in all price ranges including
powered ones for $31.
There are other necessities to ensure yourself a safe voyage. Always
carry a waterproof flashlight. They have saved the lives of more mariners
than you would believe. Bring clothing appropriate for all types of
weather, and don't forget your hat and sunglasses. Grab some
water, snacks and your fishing gear; if you can bear it, leave the
alcohol for when you get home.
Have fun and make sure you make it back safe and sound. Give yourself
the pleasure of ending your day with that exhilarated, exhausted type
of feeling that comes from spending the day under the sun and over
the salt. You know you'll sleep like a baby.
For more info, or
for a safe Tofino boating course, call 250.725.2170 in Tofino, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tofino Boating: Heather Shobe writes this article about safe boating in Clayoquot Sound for Tofino Time Magazine. For a safe boating course in Tofino call 725-2170