Helpful Tips

Helpful Tips

6 Tips for Boating Safely (and in compliance)

Before you leave the dock, make sure that you are in compliance with the Department of Transport Canada safety regulations. Not doing so, could put you and your passengers at risk and in violation of regulations.

Flotation Equipment - All flotation equipment must have the approved label from the Department of Transport Canada or the Canadian Coast Guard/Fisheries and Oceans and be in good working order. Altered, damaged or repaired PFDs or Life Jackets are not legal. 

  • Lifejackets - Standard "keyhole" lifejackets are reversible and come in different adult and children sizes, with weight/size designation on the label. When properly worn, they are designed to turn the wearer face up and hold the head above water.
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) - PFDs come in many styles and are available in many approved colours. The new inflatable PFDs are legal on the condition that they are worn in an open boat, on deck or in the cockpit. They are not approved for use by people under the age of 16 years or lighter than 36.3 kg (80 pounds). They are not approved for use on personal watercraft.

Heaving Lines - These lines are designed to float on the water to minimize the likelihood they will get tangled in the propeller and to make it easy for the person in the water to grab hold.

Bailers - These come in many different styles and different pumping capacities. It is required by regulation to have enough hose attached to carry the water from the bilge overboard

Fire Extinguishers - Fire extinguishers that meet the requirements must be approved by Transport Canada, Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), United States Coast Guard for Marine Use or the British Board of Trade for Marine Use. The label will designate A, B, C or D Classes.

Flares - These have a "best before" date and are usually good for three or four years after you purchase them.

Other Equipment

While not required by government regulations, carrying the following items can make a difference to your comfort and safety. 

  • First Aid Kit - The longer the trip, the farther you stray from shore and emergency assistance, the more sophisticated and comprehensive your kit should be.
  • Emergency Kit - Your emergency kit should include a spare flashlight, whistle and knife as well as drinking water, rations and dry clothing. 
  • Spare Parts - Shear pins, props, belts, hoses, clamps, spark plugs and other items such as engine oil may help you get home.
  • Plugs and Sealants -    Underwater sealing compounds along with tapered wooden plugs and scrap pieces of rubber and wood could keep you afloat in the event of a leak or hole.

For more detailed information, visit the Government of Ontario's website gorideontario.com.

Boating Knots

The following are eight different types of basic boating knots to show you the fundamental principles of knot types. Click on the images to view how to tie a specific type of boating knot

Basic Knots:

Overhand Knot

Overhand Knot

Half Hitch Knot

Half Hitch Knot

Half Knot

Half Knot

Square Knot (Reef Knot)

Square Knot (Reef Knot)

Sheet Bend Knot

Sheet Bend Knot

Figure 8 Knot

Figure 8 Knot

Slip Knot

Slip Knot

Noose Knot

Noose Knot


How to Un-Dock Your Boat

When the wind or current is pushing your boat away from the dock follow these steps:

  1. Cast off lines and pull in fenders as the wind blows you away.
  2. When clear and safely away from the dock and other boats, shift to forward and depart at idle speed.
  3. Be careful to make sure you have been pushed safely away and that the stern will not hit the dock as you motor forward and turn.
If the wind or current is pushing your boat toward the dock follow these steps:
  1. Cast off all lines except an after bow spring line. This line will keep you from moving forward and allow the stern to pivot away from the dock.
  2. You may want to use a fender forward to cushion the bow of the boat against the dock.
  3. Turn the motor or rudder to the direction necessary to push the stern away from the dock.
  4. Shift into forward at idle speed. GO SLOW!
  5. The stern will swing away from the dock. When it is clear of all obstacles and traffic, cast off the spring line and back away from the dock.
  6. When you are safely away, shift to forward and idle away from the dock.

How to Dock Your Boat

  • Before approaching the dock, one end of the docking lines should be secured onboard; fenders readied and speed reduced.
  • If the wind is onshore (blowing toward the dock), the boat is brought to a position parallel to the dock and about two feet off. The wind will blow the boat in. It can then be secured by bow, stern and spring lines.
  • If the wind is offshore (blowing away from the dock), you should approach the dock at a 20 to 30 degree angle. A bow line is passed ashore and secured. In boats with an outboard, or inboard/outboard engine, the engine is turned towards the dock and put in reverse. This will bring the stern into the dock. The boat can then be secured with the stern line.
  • The procedure is different for boats with inboard engines. The rudder will be used to bring the stern in. To push the stern in using the rudder, attach an after bow spring to keep the boat from moving forward. With the engine idling forward, turn the wheel away from the dock as illustrated below. Since the boat cannot move forward and the rudder is pushing the stern in, the boat will pin itself against the dock while you secure the other lines. All maneuvers are more easily accomplished if the boat has twin engines, rather than a single engine.

Undocking and Docking information was taken from www.boatsafe.com. If you want more details, please click on the link.