Boat safety a problem on small lakes

Two separate patrols of Sugar Lake north of Cherryville showed zero compliance with safety regulations

Boaters on the area’s larger lakes are getting the message about safety.

Not so much on the smaller lakes.

Sgt. Josh Lockwood, operations supervisor for the North Okanagan Conservation Office, reported July long weekend compliance numbers on Monday.

“No real problems on the big lakes, like Okanagan and Shuswap,” said Lockwood. “There were some issues on the smaller lakes like Mara and Sugar.”

Specifically, said Lockwood, two separate patrols of Sugar Lake north of Cherryville showed zero compliance with safety regulations.

“Everybody got a warning notice or a violation ticket for having a number of safety items missing,” he said.

The big lakes were not free of issues as officers found out while conducting Operation Dry Water, a national safe boating initiative on the holiday weekend.

One man was found in a canoe in the middle of Okanagan Lake with no life jacket or safety equipment aboard the canoe. He received two tickets of $282.50 each.

Three boats were taken off the lake because nobody was sober enough to operate the vessels.

“The boats were stationary when we checked them but had they been in operation, the operator would have been processed for operating a motor vessel while impaired,” said Lockwood.

The three boats were towed to a marina dock and could not be moved until a sober operator could be found.

All operators must carry their boat operator’s license (PCOC) on the boat at all times.

The RCMP would like to see boaters carry a second piece of photo identification along with their boater’s license. That second piece of ID can be a good photocopy of your driver’s licence.

If you have just purchased a new or used boat, the boat has to be registered (numbers on bow of the boat). If it is a used boat you must have it transferred into the new owner’s name.  If the operator has failed to do this and cannot produce the registration from Transport Canada, a fine could result.

Wildlife and police officers will continue to patrol area lakes – big and small – throughout the summer to make sure everyone has a safe boating season.