In the United States and Canada, boating is a popular pastime during the summer months, especially in areas where the warmth doesn’t last very long. But in several regions near the water, officials are reminding boaters and their passengers to stay safe and wear life vests when aboard boats and other watercraft.
In Richmond, British Columbia, in the Greater Vancouver area, many people enjoy boating in the Fraser River, which leads to the Pacific Ocean. Volunteers with the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue team are warning residents of the dangers of traveling by boat without proper safety gear.
In the past few weeks, there have already been multiple tragedies involving boating accidents, due in part to the fast-moving current of the Fraser River. The Search and Rescue Team has logged 20 hours in just two weeks on missions to find those who have been stranded by the tide.
Brian Hobbs, President of the the Strait of Georgia Marine Rescue Society, said of the missions, “These missions have included three people stranded by the quickly-rising tide on Shady Island, multiple incidents of poorly prepared vessels, and the intensive search for the missing boater.”
The latter incident refers to a man missing and presumed drowned after he fell from a boat while trying to free it from a log boom, a barrier placed in a river designed to collect floating logs.
The man and another male passenger were in a boat that ran out of fuel. The men attempted to return to the dock where they’d launched, but the man driving the boat fell into the water. He wasn’t wearing a life vest, and search and rescue efforts were unable to recover the body.
Hobbs stated that in many incidents, boaters don’t wear personal flotation devices, and in some cases, boaters do not keep life vests on board at all.
For those with their own personal watercraft platforms and boats, having safety gear for boat owners and their passengers is crucial to safety measures, even if you’re not going far from home.
Hobbs also warned boaters to let someone, such as a loved one, know that they are going out on the water. Doing so can make search efforts easier in the event that something goes wrong.
A recent incident near the Shelter Island Marina in East Richmond led the volunteer search and rescue team to check on a boat anchored offshore. The boat turned out to be locked up, and the owner had taken a dinghy to shore without informing anyone else.