Boating safety a concern on valley lakes

Local RCMP and conservation officials still have work to do getting the safe boating message out.

Local RCMP and conservation officials still have work to do getting the safe boating message out.

The RCMP district boating season started on Sunday with the RCMP boat out on Kalamalka Lake and checking 26 boats.

Of the 26 boats checked, 10 were compliant with safety features such as having the proper amount of lifejackets for people onboard and having the proper licensing, and 16 were not.

Two of the operators were fined and directed off the lake because they did not have sufficient safety equipment on board.

One other operator was charged for operating a boat without a valid boat license. A second boat operator was charged with towing without a spotter. Both those charges carry a fine of $287.50.

Conservation officers were out on Okanagan Lake and checked eight boats.

“There was zero compliance,” said Sgt. Josh Lockwood, conservation operations supervisor for North Okanagan.

“We issued five warnings and five charges.”

All boaters must ensure that they have all of their safety equipment in their boat prior to going on the water.  This includes enough approved life jackets for each person in the boat.

“Remember not carrying enough approved life jackets or the correct safety equipment could result in a fine being issued,” said RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.

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.

Boaters can check the Transport Canada website to see how this is done.

Those who like to paddleboard must either wear a lifejacket or have one on board, and every person on the board must wear a jacket or have one on board.

It is illegal to tow a person either by boat or personal watercraft (ie: sea-doo) without a spotter on board.

“Having a mirror on your boat does not replace the spotter,” said Molendyk.

If the boating public has any questions or concerns about safe boating, please contact the local police detachment or check the Transport Canada website.

June 24-28 is Operation Dry Water, which is BUI (Boating Under the Influence).

Officers will be on the lakes that week seeking people who are impaired operating a motor vessel.

They’ll also be waiting at local docks and boat launches.

“These people who boat and consume alcohol eventually either park their boat at the yacht club and drive home, or go to the boat launches and drive home,” said Lockwood.