On most pleasure craft, buoyant heaving lines no less than 15 m (49’3”) in length are necessary equipment.
When buying a lifebuoy look for a Transport Canada approval sticker. Store this piece of equipment where it can be easily accessed in an emergency. Lifebuoys must be at least 610 mm in diameter. Smaller lifebuoys and horseshoe-type devices are not approved.
Pleasure craft greater than 12 m (39’4”) in length, and pleasure craft 6-12 m (19’8”-39’4”) in length with freeboard exceeding 0.5 m (1’8”) need a reboarding device. If your pleasure craft has transom ladders or swim platform ladders it already meets this requirement.
A manual propelling device can mean:
A spare paddle or other propelling device is a good idea, but only one is necessary to meet the requirement.
Bailers must be at least 750 ml with the opening a minimum of 65 cm2 (10 in2), and made of plastic or metal. If you have a manual pump, the pump and hose must be able to reach the bilge and discharge over the side of the boat.
A bailer or manual water pump is not required for multi-hull vessels that have subdivided multiple-sealed hull construction (common example: pontoon boat) or sailboats fitted with a recess-type cockpit that cannot contain a sufficient quantity of water to capsize the boat.
Make a bailer out of a four-litre rigid plastic bottle (useful for small open boats)
Rinse thoroughly and then:
There is more to dropping anchor than just that. If your boat’s anchor and its cable are not of the appropriate weight and size, wind and water conditions can cause it to drag, leaving your boat to drift. This is especially dangerous if you are asleep or swimming nearby. Ensure your boat is well anchored and keep watch to detect signs of dragging.
Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. Currently, there are two classes of fire extinguishers required under the Small Vessel Regulations: Class B for combustible liquids such as gas and oil and Class C for electrical fires.
The number before the letter on the extinguisher rates its relative firefighting effectiveness. For example, a 3B device will put out a larger fire than a 2B device. Although regulations specify class BC, choose an extinguisher with an ABC rating. The type of fire extinguishers you choose must be listed and labelled by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), if made in Canada.
Fire extinguishers are generally approved for marine use by:
Refills of halon fire extinguishers are no longer permitted.
Check extinguishers frequently for correct operating pressure, and ensure you and your guests know how to use them.
Maintenance, servicing and recharging must be performed by trained personnel as per manufacturer instructions.
For chemical-type devices, take them out of their bracket and shake them vigorously in the upside down position (about once a month) to prevent the extinguishing agent from caking and hardening at the bottom.
If a small fire erupts, activate a fire extinguisher and direct it at the base of the flames. Sweep the discharge nozzle from side to side and continue doing this for a few seconds after the flames are completely extinguished. Otherwise, the fire may re-ignite and you may not have enough extinguishing agent left to put it out again.
If your boat is in motion when a fire starts, position it so the fire is downwind from you and stop the engine if it is safe to do so under the weather conditions. Make sure everyone is wearing a flotation device, use extinguishers to control the fire and, if safe to do so, shut-off the fuel source.
The Small Vessel Regulations do not address automatic extinguishing systems some pleasure craft may carry. Even if your pleasure craft has this type of system it must carry the portable extinguishers indicated in the Minimum Required Equipment section. More information on the care and maintenance of fire extinguishers is available from ULC or the manufacturer.
Almost every pleasure craft requires a watertight flashlight or flares. In the event of an electrical failure, a watertight flashlight may be your only means of signalling for help.
Use flares only in times of real distress. Before purchasing, make sure they are approved by Transport Canada. There are four types of approved pyrotechnics: A, B, C and D.
Aerial flares should be fired at an angle into the wind. With a high wind velocity, lower the angle to a maximum of 45 degrees. Pyrotechnics are valid only for four years from the date of manufacture, stamped on each flare. To dispose of your outdated flares, seek advice from your local fire department, law enforcement agency or Transport Canada Centre.
Store flares vertically in a cool, dry location (such as a watertight container) to help them retain their efficiency, but keep them accessible in case of an emergency.
Pyrotechnic distress signals are not required to be carried on board a pleasure craft that is not more than 6 m (19'8") in length and is not fitted with an engine.
As well, pyrotechnic distress signals are not required to be carried on board a pleasure craft that:
Some Type B flares project only one star at a time. When using this single star type, two flares must be fired within 15 seconds of each other. You will need double the number of cartridges to meet the requirements of the regulations.
Avoid looking directly at the flare while it is burning. Ignite the flare while holding it clear of the boat and down wind.
Position your smoke flare down wind and follow the directions carefully.
Act smart and call early! Knowing how to communicate distress messages and seek assistance in an emergency can make the difference between life and death.
Regulated marine distress and safety communication equipment such as:
work together to form the new international system known as the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). This combination of equipment quickly relays distress alerts to the Coast Guard and other vessels in the immediate vicinity.
Pleasure craft do not have to carry GMDSS-compatible equipment, but it is recommended. If your pleasure craft has this equipment, connect it to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to ensure your exact location is automatically transmitted in a digital distress alert in an emergency.
Marine VHF radio is generally the most effective and reliable means of issuing a distress alert. If you have a VHF radio keep it tuned to channel 16. Know where you are at all times and be prepared to describe your specific location.
If you are buying a new VHF radio, make sure it has the new digital selective calling (DSC) feature on channel 70. This feature provides automatic digital distress alerts. The Canadian Coast Guard has upgraded its facilities to provide DSC channel 70 service in many areas.
Remember, VHF radio channel 16 is used for emergency and calling purposes only. Once you call another vessel on channel 16, take your conversation to a working frequency to continue. VHF channel 70 should be used only for DSC (digital) communication and not for voice communications. Anyone who uses a VHF radio must follow the procedures described in the VHF Radiotelephone Practices and Procedures Regulations.
Obtain a nine-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number for your radio to get maximum benefits from this automated system. Your owner’s manual will explain this feature and how to make a DSC call to another vessel or to a shore station that has DSC capability. These numbers are assigned, free-of-charge, by Industry Canada. Call 1-800-328-6189 or visit Industry Canada for more information.
On a VHF radiotelephone, in case of grave and imminent danger (for example, your boat is taking on water and you are in danger of sinking or capsizing), use channel 16 and say “Mayday” three times. Then give the name of your boat, its position, the nature of your problem and the type of assistance needed.
If you need assistance but are not in immediate danger (for example, your boat’s motor has quit and you are unable to reach shore) use channel 16 and say “Pan-Pan” three times. Then give the name of your boat, its position, the nature of your problem and the type of assistance needed.
An important feature of a VHF/DSC radio is its ability to send a distress alert that tells the Coast Guard and nearby vessels you require immediate assistance. To find out where VHF/DSC services are available visit the Canadian Coast Guard or contact a Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services centre.
Currently, all VHF marine radio operators are required to have a restricted operator’s certificate (ROC) with maritime qualifications. Contact your local Industry Canada office or the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons at 1-888-CPS-BOAT for more information on procedures and radiotelephone license requirements.
More and more pleasure craft operators rely on the GPS to tell them where they are on the water. The GPS is a worldwide radio-navigation system consisting of a network of satellites and monitoring stations.
Its receivers can calculate where you are, anywhere on the planet, to within 30 metres. The Coast Guard supplies a Differential GPS that has an integrity monitoring feature and provides an accuracy of within 10 metres.
If your boat is equipped with a GPS receiver, connecting it to your DSC radio may be a good idea. This ensures that when a distress alert is transmitted rescuers will immediately know your precise location and will arrive sooner.
These buoyant radio distress beacons can be manually activated or float free of a sinking or overturned vessel and transmit for hours. Their signals communicate your position to a network of satellites for transmission to Joint Search and Rescue Coordination Centres. In an emergency, their function is invaluable.
Although pleasure craft are not required to carry them, an EPIRB is highly recommended.
EPIRBs must be registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry at 1-877-406-7671 or at www.Canadianbeaconregistry.forces.gc.ca.
With a cellular phone, you can contact Rescue Coordination Centres directly by dialling *16 for the Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres.
However, a cellphone is not a reliable substitute for a marine radio and not the best means of issuing a distress call. Cellphones can lose reception or get wet and damaged. Calling from your cell does not alert other vessels close to you that you are in distress — the occupants of those other vessels could be the ones to help you if they could hear you. Unlike VHF transmissions, some wireless phone signals cannot be followed back to your location by rescuers.
Not all cellular providers offer the *16 service. Contact your wireless provider to find out if the *16 service is available from your phone.