MARCH 20 REC REPORT: Prepare for the summer’s water activities with GFREC

The ice is melting so it's time to pull out the boat, but make sure you're licensed to operate a pleasure craft before you launch.

Today is the first day of spring and that means it’s time to put away the hockey gear, snowshoes and ski equipment and replace them with life-jackets, fishing poles and watercraft.

But before you head out to the lake for the first time this year there are few details you need to remember in order to be a safe and responsible on the water.

Anyone operating a motorized pleasure craft must carry proof of competency on board.

This includes any type of motorized watercraft you plan to operate no matter the size or horsepower.

The accepted proof of competency includes a Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC) obtained after passing an accredited boating safety test, proof of having passed a boating safety course in Canada before April 1, 1999 or a specified marine certificate.

If you do not have proof of competency there are a couple of ways to obtain the certification. First, you can challenge the exam by purchasing a BOAT manual from Grand Forks Recreation (GFREC), study and write the test when you feel ready to do so.

Second, you can register for a Boat Pro Course through GFREC.

There are two courses scheduled this spring running on Saturdays, April 27 in Grand Forks and May 25 at Christina Lake. Mike Fairweather from the Canadian Power Squadron will teach you everything you need to know during the one-day course and upon successful completion of the exam you will leave with an Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card.

Once you have your PCOC the next step is to make sure that you have all the necessary safety equipment on your boat whether it’s a motorized watercraft, kayak or canoe.

Visit the transport Canada website for an approved list required for your vessel.

Check your life-jackets and personal flotation devices for missing straps, buckles and overall wear and tear. Remember, there must be enough life-jackets available in the appropriate sizes for the individuals riding in or on a pleasure craft.

On average, 140 Canadians drown in boating incidents each year. More than 90 per cent are not wearing life-jackets.

Think of wearing a life-jacket like a seat belt in your car. You wear a seat belt because you won’t have time to put it on in an accident. A life-jacket won’t work if you don’t wear it.

For additional information and tips on boating safety and pleasure craft regulations visit the Lifesaving Society and the Transport Canada websites.

For details on the Boat Pro Courses being offered this spring or how you can challenge the BOAT exam contact GFREC at 250-442-2202.

– Submitted by Kim Johnson