Equipment


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equipment to bring onboard

Having the right equipment on board can save your life. If something goes wrong on the water, you’ll be much better prepared to deal with it if you have the right equipment on board, if it’s in good working order, and if everyone can find it and use it. Remember, the best protection you can give yourself on the water is to wear your lifejacket!  

This section starts off by listing the minimum safety equipment that is required on your boat, followed by some extra advice for specific activities. Finally, it offers more information on the equipment you need and how to use it.    

 

Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements   

The safety equipment Canada requires you to carry on board is based on the type and length of your boat. It must be on board, in good working order and always easy to reach so that it can be used in an emergency. You can find the length of your boat by reading the manufacturer’s product information or by measuring it yourself (from the front outside surface of the hull shell to the back outside surface of the hull shell – bow to stern).

minimum equipmentRemember that these requirements apply only to pleasure craft and are the same whether you own, rent or borrow the boat. This includes typical boats like power boats, sail boats and personal watercraft, as well as less common boats like airboats, air cushion vehicles (hovercraft) and wing in ground effect vessels that are used only for recreation. They also apply to kiteboards.

If you want information on operating a vessel for work or commercial activities (non-pleasure craft), visit www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety or contact your local Transport Canada Centre. 

These requirements do not apply to inflatable self-propelled water toys because they are not designed for use in open water. If you do choose to operate these toys in open water, they will be treated as pleasure craft and subject to the same strict rules. Remember as well that operating a propeller-driven surfboard is against the law in Canada.

The following list of equipment is the minimum that is required. You may want to bring more equipment based on your type of boat, your water activity and the current and forecasted weather and water conditions.


Remember:
All safety equipment must be Canadian-approved and there must be enough lifejackets that fit, have enough buoyancy and are in good condition for everyone on board your boat.


Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements by Boat Type and Length

Boat Type and Length Personal Lifesaving Appliances Vessel Safety Equipment (See Note 1) Visual Signals (See Note 2) Navigation Equipment
 
Fire Fighting Equipment

Paddleboats and Watercycles, Sealed-Hull and Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Equipment listed in 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 is not required if everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (493) long

3. *One (1) reboarding device
4. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump

OR

Bilge-pumping arrangements
If boat is over 6 m:
5. One (1) watertight flashlight

6. Six (6) flares of Type A, B or C
7. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

8. **Navigation lights

9. ***One (1) magnetic compass

10. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
None
Canoes, Kayaks, Rowboats, Rowing Shells and Other Human-Powered Boats 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2.One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (493) long

3.*One (1) reboarding device
4. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump

OR

Bilge-pumping arrangements
If boat is over 6 m:

5. One (1) watertight flashlight

6. Six (6) flares of Type A, B or C
7. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

8. **Navigation lights

9. ***One (1) magnetic compass

10. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
None
Sailboards and Kiteboards
Equipment listed in 2, 3, 4 and 5 is not required if operator is wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

Lifejacket or PFD must NOT be fitted with an automatic inflator.
1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (493) long

3. *One (1) reboarding device
4. One (1) manual propelling device
OR
One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (493) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

5. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump
None 6. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

7. **Navigation lights

8. ***One (1) magnetic compass

9. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
None

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Equipment listed in 3, 4, 5 and 11 is not required if everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

Lifejacket or PFD must be inherently buoyant
1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (493) long

3. *One (1) reboarding device

4. One (1) manual propelling device

OR

One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (493) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

5. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump

6. One (1) watertight flashlight
OR

Three (3) flares of Type A, B or C

7. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

8. **Navigation lights

9. ***One (1) magnetic compass

10. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)

11. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher

Sail and Power
Boats up to 6 m (198)

1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (493) long

3. *One (1) reboarding device

4. One (1) manual propelling device

OR

One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (493) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

5. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump

If boat is equipped with a motor:

6 . One (1) watertight flashlight

OR

Three (3) flares of Type A, B or C

7. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

8. **Navigation lights

9. ***One (1) magnetic compass

10. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
11. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with an inboard engine, a fixed fuel tank of any size, or a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance
Sail and Power Boats over 6 m and up to 9 m (198 - 296) 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (493) long

OR

3. One (1) lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

4. *One (1) reboarding device
4. One (1) manual propelling device

OR

One (1) anchor and at least 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

5. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump

6. One (1) watertight flashlight

7. Six (6) flares of Type A, B or C

8. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

9. **Navigation lights

10. ***One (1) magnetic compass

11. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
12. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor

13. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance
Sail and Power Boats over 9 m and up to 12 m (29’6” – 39’4”) 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

3. One (1) lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

4. *One (1) reboarding device
5. One (1) anchor and at least 30 m (98’5”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

6. One (1) manual bilge pump

OR

Bilge-pumping arrangements
7. One (1) watertight flashlight

8. Twelve (12) flares of Type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of Type D
9. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance

10. Navigation lights

11. One (1) magnetic compass

12. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
13. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor

14. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance
Sail and Power Boats over 12 m and up to 24 m (39’4” – 78’9”) 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49 ’3”) long

3. One (1) lifebuoy equipped with a self-igniting light or attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

4. *One (1) reboarding device
5. One (1) anchor and at least 50 m (164’1”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

6. Bilge-pumping arrangements
7. One (1) watertight flashlight

8. Twelve (12) flares of Type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of Type D
9. One (1) sound-signalling appliance that meets the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations

10. Navigation lights

11. One (1) magnetic compass that meets the requirements set out in the Navigation Safety Regulations

12. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
13. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher at all of the following locations:

at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted;

at the entrance to any accommodation space; and at the entrance to the machinery space.

14. One (1) axe

15. Two (2) buckets of at least 10 L each
Sail and Power Boats over 24 m (78’9”) 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board

2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 30 m (98’5”) long

3. Two (2) SOLAS lifebuoys, of which:

one (1) is attached to a buoyant line at least 30 m (98 ’5”) long; and

one (1) is equipped with a self-igniting light.

4. Lifting harness with appropriate rigging

5. *One (1) reboarding device
6. One (1) anchor and at least 50 m (164’1”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination

7. Bilge-pumping arrangements
8. One (1) watertight flashlight

9. Twelve (12) flares of Type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of Type D
10. One (1) sound-signalling appliance that meets the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations

11. Navigation lights

12. One (1) magnetic compass that meets the requirements set out in the Navigation Safety Regulations

13. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 3)
14. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher at all of the following locations:

at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted;

at the entrance to any accommodation space; and

at the entrance to the machinery space.

15. One (1) power-driven fire pump located outside the machinery space, with one fire hose and nozzle that can direct water into any part of the boat

16. Two (2) axes

17. Four (4) buckets of at least 10 L each

*Only required if the vertical height that must be climbed to reboard the boat from the water (freeboard) is over 0.5 m (1’8”).
**Only required if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility (fog, falling snow, etc.).

***Not required if the boat is 8 m(26’3”) or less and operated within sight of navigation marks.


Disclaimer:
Boating laws change from time to time, so make sure you have the most current information. If the Safe Boating Guide differs from the regulations, remember that it is always the current regulatory text that applies.



Note 1 – Exception for Bailers and Manual Bilge Pumps

A bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or a boat that has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible.

Note 2 – Exception for Flares

Flares are not required for a boat that:

  • is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than one (1) nautical mile (1.852 km) from shore; or
  • has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition.

Note 3 – Radar Reflectors

Radar reflectors are required for boats under 20 m (65’7”) and boats that are built of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if:

  • the boat operates in limited traffic conditions, daylight and favourable environmental conditions, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to the boat’s safety; or
  • the small size of the boat or its operation away from radar navigation makes having a radar reflector impracticable.

Alternative Requirements for Boats Involved in Competition 

Is your boat used for racing? You may be allowed to carry alternative safety equipment when engaged in formal training, in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition. 

Formal training means practice for an official competition under the supervision of a coach or official certified by a governing body.

Official competition means a competition or regatta organized by a governing body or by a club or an organization that is affiliated with a governing body.

Final preparation for an official competition means activities to prepare for the competitions that take place at the competition venue and during the times specified by the event organizer.

Governing body means a national water sport governing body that publishes rules and criteria respecting conduct and safety requirements for skill demonstrations, formal training or official competitions and that:

  • certifies coaches and coaching programs;
  • certifies officials and programs for officials; or
  • recommends training and safety guidelines for certified coaches or officials.

Safety craft means a vessel, aircraft or other means of transport with a crew on board that is used for watch and rescue during formal training, final preparation or official competitions.

Racing canoes, racing kayaks and rowing shells do not have to carry the equipment listed in this guide if they (and their crews) are engaged in formal training, in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition and:

  • are attended by a safety craft that, in addition to its own safety equipment, carries a lifejacket that fits, for each crew member of the racing boat with the biggest crew;

OR

  • if they carry:
    • a lifejacket that fits, for each crew member;
    • a sound-signalling device; and
    • a watertight flashlight if operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of poor visibility.

In addition to the alternatives outlined above, rowing shells do not have to carry the equipment listed in this guide if they are competing in an official provincial, national or international regatta or competition, or are engaged in training at the event’s venue.

Racing-type boats (other than canoes, kayaks and rowing shells) do not have to carry the equipment listed in this guide if they:

  • are engaged in formal training, in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition;
  • are operated under conditions of clear visibility;
  • are attended by a safety craft; and
  • carry the safety equipment required by the rules of their sport’s governing body.

A sailboard or kiteboard does not have to carry the equipment listed in this guide if it carries a sound-signalling device or appliance and is engaged in an official competition where an attending safety craft carries a lifejacket that fits the sail/kite boarder and that can be put on in the water (PFDs with automatic inflators are not allowed).

Operating a Personal Watercraft

personal floatation device

Safe use of a personal watercraft (PWC) requires skill and experience. PWC operators must be at least 16 years old and have proof of competency and proof of age on board.  

Before you let someone borrow your PWC, you must make sure that they know how to operate it safely and responsibly. Basic tips include:

  • Always wear a Canadian-approved lifejacket (inflatable PFDs are not allowed) coloured red, orange or yellow to make it easy for others to see you.
  • Wear thermal protection when operating in cold water (water less than 15°C).
  • Read the owner’s manual before setting out.
  • Attach the engine shut-off line securely to your wrist or lifejacket.
  • Respect speed limits and other vessel operation restrictions.
  • Be cautious, courteous and respect your neighbours. Many people dislike the noise a PWC makes when it is operated for long periods of time at high speed in one place,especially when it is used to jump waves.
  • Be aware of the impact your PWC can have on the environment. Avoid high speeds near shore.
  • Stay alert! At high speeds, it’s hard to see swimmers, waterskiers, divers and other PWCs in time to avoid them.
  • Do not operate your PWC after dark or when visibility is poor.
  • Make sure your PWC is properly licensed and marked.
  • Do not start your PWC if you smell gasoline or fumes in the engine compartment. Have a qualified technician check it.
  • Replace the engine cover or seat before starting.

To learn more about operating a PWC, check out the brochure Safety Rules and Tips for Personal Watercraft (PWC) Use at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca.


Kayaking 

Choose a bright colour such as red, yellow or orange for your lifejacket and kayak so that other boat operators can see you. Keep signalling devices within easy reach in case of emergency.

Sea kayakers should be aware of water temperatures, tides, currents, wind and maritime traffic. For more information on sea kayaking, check out the Sea Kayaking Safety Guide at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca.

Fishing and Hunting

Are you planning a trip across the lake to do some fishing or hunting? It takes more than steering your boat to get from point A to point B. You should:
  • Always wear a Canadian-approved lifejacket coloured red, orange or yellow to make it easy for others to see you.
  • Avoid overloading the boat.
  • Know your boat’s ability to manoeuvre and its limits.
  • Never cruise with booze.
  • Learn about weather patterns, hypothermia and cold shock. One small mistake can put you in the water and your survival could depend on you and your guests being prepared.
  • Dress for boating. Some gear, such as hip waders, should never be worn in boats.
  • Have a way to contact your loved ones to let them know if your plans change – especially if you have filed a sail plan and are expected home at a certain time.

Personal Lifesaving Appliances

 personal lifesaving appliances

About 90% of people who drown in recreational boating incidents are not wearing a lifejacket. Even if you have one on board, conditions like rough winds and waves and cold water can make it really hard, if not impossible, to find it and put it on. Worse yet, if you unexpectedly fall into the water, the boat (with your lifejacket on board) could be too far away to reach.

Although you can choose between lifejackets and PFDs, keep in mind that lifejackets offer a higher level of protection. Lifesaving cushions are not approved as safety equipment on any boat.

To find a list of all Canadian-approved lifejackets and PFDs, check out the Approved Products Catalogue Index at www.tc.gc.ca.


A lifejacket is the best insurance you can have — so find one that suits your needs and wear it on or near the water! 



Lifejackets

Lifejackets come in red, orange or yellow. This makes you much easier to see in the water. Right now there are three Canadian-approved lifejacket types to choose from:

  SOLAS (SAFETY OF LIFE AT SEA) LIFEJACKETS STANDARD TYPE LIFEJACKETS SMALL VESSEL LIFEJACKETS
Performance in the Water Best Performance – Will turn you on your back in seconds to keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious
 
Slower Performance – Will turn you on your back to keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious
 
Slowest Performance – Will turn you on your back to keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious, but may do so more slowly
 
Sizes (by body weight)

Available in 2 sizes:
- Over 32 kg (70 lbs)
- Less than 32 kg (70 lbs)

Available in 2 sizes:
- Over 40 kg (88 lbs)
- Less than 40 kg (88 lbs)
 
Available in 3 sizes:
- Over 41 kg (90 lbs)
- 18 kg (40 lbs) to 41 kg (90 lbs)
- Less than 18 kg (40 lbs)
 
Models Available Keyhole Keyhole
 
Keyhole
Vest

Future types and designs of lifejackets, including inflatables, that meet the new lifejacket standard adopted in 2007, will offer more comfort and better performance.

Personal Flotation Devices

wear a lifejacket

Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are available in a wide range of approved types, sizes and colours. While PFDs are more comfortable than lifejackets because they are designed for constant wear, they do not generally offer the same level of protection as lifejackets for: 

  • staying afloat; and
  • turning you on your back to keep your face out of the water so you can breathe. 

Choose a PFD based on your needs and activity. If you plan to operate at high speeds, look for a PFD with three or more chest belts for security. If you will be boating in cold water (water less than 15°C), choose a PFD with some thermal protection. A large selection is also available for activities such as sailboarding, kayaking and canoeing. No matter what type of PFD you choose, you should choose a colour that makes you easy to see in the water.

There are many pros and cons to choosing a PFD over a lifejacket, but remember that a PFD may not turn you on your back if you fall in the water. The choice is yours, but think carefully before buying.There are many pros and cons to choosing a PFD over a lifejacket – but remember that a PFD may not turn you on your back if you fall in the water. The choice is yours, but think carefully before buying.

You can also buy inflatable PFDs, but you must understand how to use and care for them if they are to work properly. You must also understand which activities and conditions they are approved for. Above all, remember that you have to be wearing an inflatable PFD for it to be approved on an open boat. If the boat is not open then you only need to wear it while you’re on deck or in the cockpit.

Inflatable PFDs are NOT approved for:

  • anyone under 16 years old;
  • anyone who weighs less than 36.3 kg (80 lbs);
  • on a personal watercraft; or
  • for white-water paddling activities. 

Inflatable PFDs come in the following two styles:

  • vest types that can be inflated orally, manually (with a CO2 system) or automatically; and
  • pouch types that can be orally inflated or manually inflated by pulling a toggle to activate a CO2 inflation system.

Although these PFDs inflate quickly, for weak swimmers it can seem like it takes forever. All Canadian-approved inflatable PFDs have an oral inflation tube in case the CO2 inflation system fails. This tube could be hard to use when you are trying to keep your head above water.
An emergency is no time to try out a new device. Inflatable PFDs should come with an owner’s manual. Look for it and read it carefully. Try the PFD on under supervision and before heading out to make sure you know how to use it.

To learn more about choosing a lifejacket or PFD, visit www.wearalifejacket.com.

Keeping Kids Afloat

 child wearing lifejacket

Kids should wear a lifejacket and be within arm’s reach at all times. Before buying a lifejacket for your child, make sure it is Canadian-approved. Have your child try it on. It should fit snugly and not ride up over the chin or ears. If there are more than 7.6 cm (3”) between your child’s shoulders and the device, it is too big and could do more harm than good.

Look for these safety features:

  • a large collar for head support;
  • waist ties or elastic gathers in front and back;
  • a safety strap that goes between the legs to prevent it from slipping over your child’s head;
  • buckles on the safety straps; and
  • reflective tape.

You should also consider attaching a non-metallic pealess whistle.


Do you want your child to wear a lifejacket? Set a good example and wear yours every time you are on the water.

Parents of young children should be aware that there are no approved lifejackets for infants under 9 kg (20 lbs). To learn more about finding the right lifejacket for your child, please visit  www.boatingsafety.gc.ca



Labels

label

For a lifejacket to be Canadian-approved, it must have a label that states it has been approved by:

  • Transport Canada;
  • Canadian Coast Guard;
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada; or
  • any combination of the above.

Lifejackets approved by the U.S. Coast Guard are not Canadian-approved. However, visitors to Canada may bring their own lifejacket to use on a pleasure craft as long as it fits and it conforms to the laws of their home country.


Caring for Your Lifejacket

Treat your lifejacket like an investment and take good care of it! Lifejackets that are ripped or in poor condition are not considered approved. Follow these tips to keep yours in good condition:

  • Check its buoyancy regularly in a pool or by wading out to waist-deep water and bending your knees to see how well you float.
  • Make sure that straps, buckles and zippers are clean and work well.
  • Tug on straps to make sure they are well attached and there is no sign of wear.
  • Dry the lifejacket in open air and avoid direct heat sources.
  • Store it in a dry, well-ventilated place where it is easy to reach.
  • Do not dry clean. Use mild soap and running water to clean.
  • Never sit or kneel on your lifejacket or use it as a fender for your boat.

Buoyant Heaving Lines

buoyant heaving lines

A buoyant heaving line is approved for use as long as it:

  • floats;
  • is in good condition;
  • is made of one full length of rope, not many shorter ropes tied together;
  • is long enough for the boat you will be using; and
  • is used only as safety equipment so that it is easy to find and use in an emergency.

Lifebuoys

buoyant heaving lines

When buying a lifebuoy, look for a Transport Canada approval stamp or label. Lifebuoys must be at least 610 mm (24”) in diameter. SOLAS lifebuoys are 762 mm (30”) in diameter. Smaller lifebuoys and horseshoe-type devices are not approved.


Reboarding Devices

reboarding device

A reboarding device allows someone to get back on the boat from the water. A transom ladder or swim platform ladder meets this requirement.



Vessel Safety Equipment

Manual Propelling Devices

pleasure craft greater than 6 m in length but no greater than 8 m in length

A manual propelling device can be:

  • a set of oars;
  • a paddle; or
  • anything that a person can operate by hand or foot to propel a boat, including the rudder on a small open sail boat or a paddle wheel on a paddleboat.

Anchors

anchor Having the right anchor and cable for your boat is important. If you don't, rough winds and water can cause it to drag, leaving your boat to drift. This is especially dangerous if you are asleep or swimming nearby. Make sure your boat is well anchored and keep watch to detect signs of dragging.

Bailers and Manual Bilge Pumps

bailerBailers must hold at least 750 ml (0.2 gallon), have an opening of at least 65 cm2 (10 in2) and be made of plastic or metal. If you have a manual bilge pump, the pump and hose must be long enough to reach the bilge and discharge water over the side of the boat. 

You can make a bailer out of a four-litre rigid plastic bottle (useful for small open boats) by following these steps:

  • rinse thoroughly;
  • secure the lid;
  • cut off the bottom; and
  • cut along the side with the handle, (as pictured above).

Visual Signals 

Watertight Flashlights

visual s.o.s.

Make sure that the batteries in your watertight flashlight are still good before every trip. If you lose power, a watertight flashlight may be your only way to signal for help.

Distress Flares

When buying distress flares, look for a Transport Canada approval stamp or label. Remember that flares are only good for four years from the date of manufacture, which is stamped on every flare. Ask the manufacturer how to dispose of your outdated flares.

emergency flaresUse flares only in an emergency. Aerial flares should be fired at an angle into the wind. In strong wind, lower the angle to 45 degrees, at most.

Flares should be kept within reach and stored vertically in a cool, dry location (such as a watertight container) to keep them in good working condition.

There are four types of approved flares: A, B, C and D.

Type A: Rocket Parachute Flare:

type a: parachute



  • creates a single red star;
  • reaches a height of 300 m (984’) and comes down slowly with a parachute;
  • is easily seen from the ground or air; and
  • burns for at least 40 seconds.

type b: multi-starType B: Multi-Star Flare:

  • creates two or more red stars;
  • reaches a height of 100 m (328’1”) and each burns for four or five seconds; and
  • is easily seen from the ground or air.

Some Type B flares project only one star at a time. When using the single star type, two flares must be fired within 15 seconds of each other. This means that you will need double the number of cartridges to meet the requirements.

type c: hand-heldType C: Hand-Held Flare:

The hand flare:

  • is a red flame torch you hold in your hand;
  • provides limited visibility from the ground;
  • is best used to help air searchers locate you; and
  • burns for at least one minute.

When lighting the flare, hold it clear of the boat and downwind. Don’t look directly at the flare while it is burning.

type d: smoke (buoyant or hand-held)Type D: Smoke Signal (Buoyant or Hand-Held):

A smoke signal, either buoyant or hand: 

  • creates a dense orange smoke for
  • buoyant: three minutes
  • hand: 50 seconds
  • is to be used only in daylight

Position your smoke signal downwind and follow the directions carefully.

Navigation Equipment

Sound-Signalling Devicescompressed gas horn pealess whistle

Boats under 12 m (39’4”) without a fitted sound-signalling appliance must carry a sound-signalling device. This can be a pealess whistle, a compressed gas horn or an electric horn.

Sound-Signalling Appliances

bell

All boats 12 m (39’4”) or more must have a fitted whistle. Boats over 20 m (65’7”) must also have a bell. Check the Collision Regulations for the technical standards these appliances must meet.

Navigation Lights

If your boat is equipped with navigation lights, they must work and meet the technical standards set out in the Collision Regulations. The following table lays out some basic requirements and options for navigation lights and shapes, based on the type and length of your boat. If you have a sail boat that is also equipped with a motor, you must meet the standards for both sail boats and power boats.

Remember that the following table is not complete. Read the Collision Regulations (referred to in each category below) for more details. If you are fitting your own navigation lights, refer to the positioning requirements in the Collision Regulations, (ANNEX I: Positioning and Technical Details of Lights and Shapes). If you have any questions after reading the regulations, please contact us.

Navigation Light and Shape Requirements and Options by Boat Type and Length

Boat Type and Length Requirements Options
Power Boats under 12 m (39’4”) - Rule 23
  • One (1) masthead light;
  • OPTIONAL - Another masthead light;
  • Sidelights; and
  • One (1) sternlight.
OR
  • One (1) all-round white light; and
  • Sidelights.
Option 1
Option 1 lighting Option 2
Option 2 lighting
Power Boats from 12 m (39’4”) to under 50 m (164’1”) - Rule 23
  • One (1) masthead light;
  • OPTIONAL - Another masthead light;
  • Sidelights; and
  • One (1) sternlight.
Option 1
lights
Sail Boats under 7 m (23') - Rule 25
  • Sidelights;
  • One (1) sternlight; and
  • OPTIONAL - Two (2) all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green.
OR
  • One (1) lantern, combining the sidelights and sternlight above.
OR (if requirements above are not practicable)
  • Have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light that you must use far enough in advance to prevent a collision.
NOTE: OPTIONAL - In the Canadian waters of a roadstead, harbour, river, lake or inland waterway, a sail boat that is also being propelled by a motor may exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards.
Option 1
lights
Option 2
lights
Option 3
lights
Option 4
lights
Sail Boats from 7 m (23') to under 20 m (65'7") - Rule 25
  • Sidelights;
  • One (1) sternlight; and
  • OPTIONAL - Two (2) all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green.
OR
  • One (1) lantern, combining the sidelights and sternlight above.
NOTE: OPTIONAL IF < 12 m - In the Canadian waters of a roadstead, harbour, river, lake or inland waterway, a sail boat that is also being propelled by a motor may exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards.
Option 1
lights
Option 2
lights
Option 3
lights
Sail Boats 20 m (65'7") and over - Rule 25
  • Sidelights;
  • One (1) sternlight; and
  • OPTIONAL - Two (2) all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green.
NOTE: In the Canadian waters of a roadstead, harbour, river, lake or inland waterway, a sail boat that is also being propelled by a motor shall exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards
Option 1
lights
Option 2
lights
Human-Powered Boats - Rule 25
  • Have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light that you must use far enough in advance to prevent a collision.
OR
  • Same lights as listed above for sail boats, according to length.
Option 1
lights
Option 2
lights
Boats at Anchor under 7 m (23') - Rule 30

If the boat is in or near a narrow channel, fairway or anchorage, or where other boats normally navigate:

  • One (1) all-round white light (at night) or one (1) ball (during the day); and
  • Another all-round white light.
OR
  • One (1) all-round white light.
NOTE: OPTIONAL - Any available lights to illuminate decks may be used.
Option 1
lights
Boats at Anchor from 7 m (23') to under 50 m (164'1") - Rule 30
  • One (1) all-round white light (at night) or one (1) ball (during the day); and
  • Another all-round white light.
OR
  • One (1) all-round white light.
NOTE: OPTIONAL – Any available lights to illuminate decks may be used.
Option 1
lights

Masthead light: a white light placed over the fore and aft centreline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and fixed so the light can be seen from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.

Sidelights: a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side, each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5 degrees and fixed so the light can be seen from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side. In a vessel of less than 20 m (65’7”) in length, the sidelights may be combined in one lantern carried on the fore and aft centreline of the vessel.

Sternlight: a white light placed as nearly as possible at the stern, showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 135 degrees and fixed so the light can be seen 67.5 degrees from right aft on each side of the vessel.

All-round light: a light showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 360 degrees.

Radar Reflectors

radar reflector

A radar reflector can enhance your safety on the water, but only if it’s big enough and well placed on your boat. Reflectors help larger vessels to see small boats on their radar screens, which is sometimes the only way that they will be able to spot you.

When buying a reflector, there is no substitute for size – so buy the biggest one that is practicable for your boat. Height is also very important, so keep this in mind too. Reflectors should be located above all superstructures and at least 4 m (13’1”) above the water if practicable. There are all kinds of reflectors of varying quality on the market, so make sure you look carefully before buying.

Fire Fighting Equipment 

Portable Fire Extinguishers

Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. You should buy a fire extinguisher with an ABC rating. The letters on a fire extinguisher tell you what types of fires it is designed to fight. Fires are classified as follows:

  • Class A: Materials that burn, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and plastic
  • Class B: Liquids that burn, such as gas, oil and grease
  • Class C: Electrical equipment

fire extinguisherThe number before the letters on the extinguisher tells you how big a fire it will put out compared to other extinguishers. For example, a 10BC device will put out a larger fire than a 5BC device.

Any fire extinguisher you choose must be certified and labelled by the U.S. Coast Guard (for marine use), Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc. (UL). You are no longer allowed to refill halon fire extinguishers.

Check your extinguishers often for correct operating pressure and make sure that you and your guests know how to use them. Have a qualified person maintain, service and recharge your extinguishers as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Take dry chemical devices out of their bracket and give them a few hard shakes in the upside down position (about once a month) to keep the contents active.

Suggested Items 

If you will be on the water for more than a few hours, you may want to have:

  • Spare clothing in a watertight bag
    Weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared.
  • Drinking water and snacks
    Drinking water and snacks will help avoid fatigue and dehydration.
  • Tool Kits and Spare Parts
    You may need to make repairs when you’re out on the water. Take along a tool kit and spare parts like fuses, bulbs, a spare propeller, nuts and bolts, penetrating oil, duct tape and spark plugs. You should also have and know how to use the tools and materials needed to stop hull leaks until you get to shore. Bring the owner’s manual and any other guidebook you might need on your trip.
  • First Aid first aid kit
    While boating, you may be far from medical help, so take a first aid kit with you. Store it in a dry place and replace used and outdated contents regularly. Pack it to meet your specific needs. Do you know the symptoms of cold shock, hypothermia, heat exhaustion and allergic reactions? Do you know how to stop bleeding, perform CPR or treat shock? If not, take a first aid course as soon as possible. Having first aid skills can make the difference between permanent injury and full recovery, or even life and death. To learn more about first aid training, contact the nearest training provider.

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