Avoiding Collisions on the Water

With the turning of the calendar to the month of May and the Victoria Day long weekend, which signals the unofficial start to summer in this part of the world boaters are beginning to flock back to the waters of the Alberni Inlet. As we continue to look forward to a long overdue warm spring and summer with hopes of a great fishing season for all interests now is the perfect time for boaters to refamiliarize themselves with the “rules of the road” and tips on how to avoid collisions on the water; especially in our waters that are enjoyed by many different kinds of users and marine-related activities. For reference, we encourage you to review Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety’s Safe Boating Guide available online at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca.
Some of the key reminders from the guide include:
1. Sailing and other vessels less than 20 metres must stay clear of larger vessels. The large vessel will alert you to an emergency or impending danger by giving 5 or more short blasts of its horn – assuming that it sees you.
2. Please be aware that larger vessels may not actually be able to see you. The Alberni Inlet is an active shipping channel so be ready to yield to larger vessels as safely as you can. Visibility of smaller boats for shipping vessels is greatly improved if you travel in groups (if at all possible) and stay clear of docked vessels, vessels in tow and working commercial fishing vessels.
3. Provide lots of space to tugs and other towing vessels that may be using lines that extend long behind the tug. Sometimes the tow line is so long it may be submerged below the top of the water. And, never pass between a tug and what it is towing.
4. Simple awareness and courtesy can also be a matter of safety. Never try to “buzz” or “spray” other boaters or users of the water. Often, speed and distance are easily misjudged leading to some of the worst outcomes.
5. Always operate at a safe speed, which depends on visibility; current, wind and water conditions; maneuverability and agility of your boat; the number and types of vessels nearby; and hazards to navigation such as rocks and deadheads.
These are only a short few of the important tips to keep you and others safe while you operate your boat in the Alberni Harbour and waters of the Alberni Inlet. There are a large number of other safe boating advisements and tips practice. The Port Authority urges anyone operating a vessel on our waters to make boating safety for everyone their top priority as we look forward to another season of boating enjoyment.