RuOperate at a Safe Speed

reduce engine noise

You may have to stop or turn suddenly to avoid a collision, so operate at a safe speed. A safe speed depends on: your ability to see ahead – slow is the only safe speed in fog, mist, rain and darkness; currents and wind and water conditions; how quickly your boat can change direction; how many and what types of vessels are near you; and the presence of navigational hazards such as rocks and tree stumps.

Be very careful when boating where visibility is poor, such as entering or exiting a fog bank. A boat’s wake can damage other vessels, docks and the shoreline. It can also be a risk for swimmers, divers and people on small boats that might capsize. Be aware of how your boat’s wake might affect others when choosing your speed. You will be responsible for any damages or harm you cause.

Reduce Engine Noise

Every boat equipped with a motor other than a stock (unmodified) outboard engine must have a muffler and use it while operating within five (5) nautical miles (9.26 km) of shore.

This does not apply to you if your boat was built before January 1, 1960, or if you are in an official competition or in formal training or final preparation for an official competition.

Waterskiing and Other Recreational Towing Activities

The rules that govern waterskiing also apply to other towing activities like barefoot skiing, tubing, kneeboarding and parasailing. When towing someone with your boat, remember:

There must be a spotter on board the boat who can keep watch on each person being towed and communicate with the operator.

There must be an empty seat on your boat for each person being towed in case they need to come on board.

Only personal watercraft made to carry three or more people may be used for towing.

If anyone being towed is not wearing a lifejacket, there must be one on board for them.

No towing is allowed when visibility is poor or from one hour after sunset to sunrise.

A towing boat cannot be remotely controlled.

These requirements do not apply to a boat that is being operated during formal training, in an official competition or in a skill demonstration if the boat meets the safety requirements of a governing body respecting such training, competitions or demonstrations.

Keep Watch to Avoid Collisions

keep watch to avoid collisions

Keeping constant watch for others on the water is common sense and the law. If you are sharing the water with large vessels, remember that it is harder for them to see you or change their route to avoid you. It also takes them longer to stop. These are all good reasons to be ready to move out of their way.

Vessels less than 20 m (657) and sailing vessels must stay out of the way of larger vessels that can safely navigate only within the navigation channel. A large vessel will remind you to give way by giving five or more short blasts of its horn. This means there is an emergency and you must get out of the way.

Steer Clear of Shipping Lanes 

Some boaters do not realize the risk they take when they cross shipping lanes or pass in front of larger vessels. Since these vessels probably will not see you until it is too late, remember to:

Always watch for others on the water and be ready to yield to large vessels in the safest way – keeping in mind the water and weather conditions. Use radar and radio if you have them.

Navigate in groups of other small boats when possible, to be more visible.

Stay off the water in fog or high winds.

Stay clear of docked ferries, ferries in transit, vessels in tow and working fishing vessels.

Give Plenty of Space to Tugs and Other Towing Vessels

Tugs may tow vessels on a long tow line that extends behind the tug. The tow line is often so long that it hangs below the surface of the water and is nearly invisible. Never pass between a tug and its tow. If a small boat were to hit the hidden line, it could capsize and be run down by the object being towed. Many towed objects will also have a long trailing line behind them. Give the tug and its tow plenty of space in every direction.

Be alert for special lights displayed by tugs (or any vessels) towing barges, other boats or objects. The tug is usually more visible than its tow, whose navigation lights do not include masthead lights and are often much dimmer than those of the tug.

If a power-driven vessel is towing another vessel or object from its stern, the power-driven vessel must display: sidelights; a sternlight; a towing light (yellow light with the same characteristics as the sternlight); two masthead lights in a vertical line – three if the tow exceeds 200 m (656’); and a diamond shape where it will be easy to see if the tow exceeds 200 m (656’) – day signal. If a barge, vessel or any other object is being towed, it must display: sidelights; a sternlight; and a diamond shape where it will be easy to see if the tow exceeds 200 m (656’).

If the requirements above are not practicable, the tow must carry one all-round white light at each end (front and back).

If you’re looking to fit your boat with navigation lights for towing, refer to Rule 24 of the Collision Regulations for details.

Be Aware and Polite

Never buzz, try to spray swimmers, or cut in front of or try to jump the wake of other vessels. Some of the worst boating incidents happen when speed or distance is misjudged. It makes matters even worse when the people involved are friends or family members.

Keep Your Distance from Divers

Diving is a popular water sport so know what a diver down flag looks like and keep careful watch for such flags. This is very important because the wake from your boat, along with weather and other factors, can make it hard to see divers’ bubbles on the surface of the water.

diver down flags Divers’ boats must display the international blue and white Code Flag Alpha. A red and white flag that may also be carried on a buoy marks the area where diving is in progress, although divers may stray from the boundaries of the marked areas. If you decide to go diving from your boat, remember to display these flags as well. Best practice includes staying within 100 m (328’) of your flag.

When you see either flag, give divers plenty of room by keeping your boat at least 100 m (328’) from the flag. If you can’t stay that far away because of the size of the waterway, slow down as much as possible, move ahead with caution, and keep clear of the vessel and diving site.