Drownings in Lake Michigan reached a new record high in 2020. According to Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, a nonprofit that tracks drowning statistics, there have been 97 drownings in the Great Lakes so far in 2020. 53 of these occurred in Lake Michigan, 9 in Lake Huron, 2 in Lake Superior, 15 in Lake Erie and 18 in Lake Ontario. The previous record for drowning fatalities in Lake Michigan was 49 back in 2019. There is speculation that this uptick may have been caused by closures during the pandemic. Read more here.
On October 1, 2020 the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) is taking their annual symposium online. The focus of this year's webinar is Shared Waterways: the Way Ahead. Shared Waterways was the theme of CSBC's 2019 Symposium in Port Credit (presentations can be found here), and the council is planning to follow up last year's discussions by adding some additional perspectives and determining next steps that can be taken both collectively and individually to address shared waterway issues. This is a free event from 12:30 - 3:35 on Thursday October 1, 2020. The agenda and registration information can be found here. -
Large and destructive wakes have long been an issue for cottagers, and the recent high water levels and shoreline conditions have made the problem much worse. The law states that power-driven vessels must slow down to 10 km/hour within 30 meters of a shoreline except in canals and marked channels. While most boaters are aware and respectful of the rules, there are others who are not. Understanding the Impacts Large wakes can create unsafe conditions, be harmful to the environment, and cause property damage, notably: Hazards for swimmers and smaller vessels Large wake can cause dangerous conditions for swimmers and can even swamp smaller vessels. Shoreline erosion Wake combined with higher water levels can cause plants and trees to lose their root support and g
Jet Ski, Sea-Doo or WaveRunner, these are all personal watercraft (PWC) and they are subject to the same rules as a every powered vessel on the water. What do you need to know if you are hopping on a personal watercraft? Age Restrictions You must be 16 or older to operate a PWC regardless of supervision and carry proof of age with you. Licensing There are two required licenses to operate any PWC: A Pleasure Craft License is the set of unique authorized numbers on the sides of your vessel. These numbers are issued by Transport Canada, must be properly displayed, and act as a permanent license plate for your PWC. A Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card (PCOP) is often referred to as a “boating license” or “boater card”, and acts as your driver’s license in the wate
Members of the OPP Marine Patrol attached to the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have recently come across a number of non-approved lifejackets while conducting their vessel checks on the waters Georgian Bay. The officers educated those vessel operators to ensure that their vessels contained sufficient approved lifejackets for each occupant of the vessel. These photos below are two of the non-approved lifejackets the officers found: Vessel operators should check that their lifejackets have a label stating it has been approved by any of the organizations below: Transport Canada Canadian Coast Guard Fisheries and Oceans Canada Please take a moment to review the following Transport Canada regulations to ensure that you ha
To provide you with the most up-to-date overview, GBA will collect the relevant information and issue a Fire Danger Rating Report on Thursdays throughout the summer to get you prepared for your cottage weekends. This report is an amalgamation of the current information with links to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and your local municipalities. The MNRF map gives an overview of the conditions around Georgian Bay, and the local municipalities will have details on their ratings and what activities are allowable under the conditions. See the latest Fire Danger Ratings Report here.
Time to Put Away the Bird Feeder - Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) would like to make area residents aware of some valuable Bear Wise safety information as the area bear population has begun to move about. Unfortunately, some bears in their quest to locate food wander into urban and rural properties that have outdoor food sources such as bird feeders, insecure garbage containers and unkempt BBQ's to name a few. - The OPP and MNRF would like to remind residents that most human-bear encounters occur when bears are attracted by smells, so removing potential attractants will help avoid unwarranted visitors. Knowing what to do if you come across a bear, as not every bear sighting
As part of GBA’s ongoing COVID-19 strategy to ensure that you are armed with the best information on safe boating, please see Transport Canada’s updated information on a wide range of transport related measures and guidance on how to keep safe at marinas and on all types of vessels here. Below are links to four useful and informative posters on marine COVID safety guidance that we recommend you consider printing and putting on your cottage fridge, or notice board, for reference: - Guidance For Using Marinas and Boat Launches Physical Distancing and Safe Boating Physical Distancing for Boating Safe Boating to Reduce the Burden on Emergency Responders
Safe Boating Awareness Week is from May 16 – 22 and this year Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) wants you to take extra precautions. Joe Gatfield, Chair of the CSBC stated ‘With recreational boating having such a slow start due to Covid-19 this year, if you need help, it might not be as readily available from rescue services or other boaters as it was in previous years. So, this year, it is even more critical to be prepared and not put additional pressure on emergency resources". CSBC has 5 Key Messages to help you stay safe on the water: Wear Your Lifejacket - Over 80% of Canadians who drown while boating were not wearing their lifejacket or not wearing it properly. Boat Sober - Whether it’s prescription drugs, alcohol or cannabis, the use of intoxicants is both irresp
The Ontario government announced that beginning Monday May 4, marinas will be able to service and place boats in the water to prepare for recreational boating season. Some seasonal businesses, including marinas, can begin the reopening process with strict social distancing measures in place. According to the provincial government all boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed on a date that is still to be determined. GBA has been working closely with your municipalities, Boating Ontario, and the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations (FOCA) to push for clarity around marina preparedness. Read more about the reopening here. - The Ontario government guidelines on health and safety for marinas during COVID-19 can be found here.
Between 2009-2019, the OPP investigated 175 snowmobile fatalities throughout the province. The top contributing factors listed were excessive speed, loss of control, driving too fast for the conditions, and ability impaired by alcohol, with alcohol listed as a factor in 45% of the deaths. According to the report, almost half of the snowmobilers who died were traveling on frozen lakes or rivers at the time of the incident. The circumstances that led to the deaths include intentionally driving onto open water (puddle jumping/water skipping), breaking through the ice, and collisions with other snowmobiles and landmarks. Despite readily accessible information on avoiding accidents and responsible operation of snowmobiles, it appears that the message is still not getting through
The OPP would like to remind motorists that weather and road reports are easily located on your mobile or hands free devices so you can make informed decisions about your route before you head out on the highway. In conjunction with local radio and TV stations who contribute to social media feeds through their respective Twitter accounts, the following links will assist those who are looking for current information on traffic conditions, snow plow locations, road and weather information, and route planner on their electronic devices, when it is safe and lawful to do so. Ontario 511 is a bilingual digital traveller information service provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This website has been designed by and for users to help people plan their routes and travel safely and effic
Boating in the fall offers colourful views, solitude and excellent fishing. It is a truly great time to be on the water. But fall boating also requires extra attention to detail and the ability to be self-sufficient given that there are fewer boaters around should you require assistance. Here are some helpful tips from the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) and the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters to make fall boating safer for you. Check the weather forecast. The weather can change quickly and storms can be more violent. Fog is also more common. Ensure that your boat and engine are in good working order. Ethanol-based fuel can allow water contamination in the tank. The use of a fuel additive prevents water in the fuel line from freezing. Having a backup gas tank onboa
Here are some things to think about around Fire Safety at the cottage: Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are present and working. Have a list of local emergency numbers posted for all to see. Include all pertinent cottage location information. Have the right fire extinguishers in the right places. Have an individual fire plan for evacuation. Make sure your plan has two escape routes. Respect local fire ratings. Have a fire pump and use it regularly to ensure it is in good working order. At the very least have a list of neighbours to call for assistance. Follow your association’s emergency plan if it exists. Make sure you have insurance. Make sure you understand what it covers and that it is adequate to rebuild and covers contents AND fire de
Large wakes continue to be a bone of contention. They cause damage to docks and shorelines and can be very disruptive to cottagers enjoyment of their docks. What can be done? The occasional disruption and damage caused by excessive wakes are an ongoing source of irritation between boaters and cottagers. Boaters are responsible for their wakes and any damage caused by them. But the OPP tells us that damage caused by wakes is a civil issue. And so what you need to do is be able to identify the vessel and the operator and pursue the matter in small claims court if a reasonable result can’t be agreed upon between the parties on their own. However, if a boater is observed to be operating their vessel in a dangerous or careless way then the OPP should be called. They ideally would like t
This past summer there seemed to be a search & rescue operation happening and it left many cottagers confused about what was going on. The questions were about what to do in a situation like that - where to get information, and potentially how to help. When involved in a current investigation the OPP generally will not disseminate info through the media. They most often feel they have the resources to adequately conduct a search. Note that, if the OPP does ask the public for assistance, they are civilly liable if a member of the public gets injured while searching, and so tend not to involve the public. If the OPP is not successful then they will ask the public for assistance through media channels. If people have questions they can call the OPP non emergency ( 1 800-310-1122 ) num
Do you know what your boat insurance covers? I just found out that mine doesn’t cover environmental damage/clean up charges. If there is damage done to the environment from your boat in any way ( spills or collisions or whatever ), the government, whether they clean it up or bring in a private contractor, will bill the owner of each boat involved. Under the Marine Liability Act the responsibility for costs associated with spill clean up resides strictly with vessel owners. And that can be expensive. My wake up call about environmental coverage serves as a reminder that it is a good thing to review the coverage you have on your boat. The following are some of the points you might want to consider. But remember these are general points only. You must discuss and confirm you have the
Here is an outline of boating (vessel) offence excerpts from the Criminal Code, Canada Shipping Act and Ontario Liquor License Act. They were sourced using the online applications, BOATsmart and Shield Basic Ontario and the web site of Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Read here.
What to do about missing or out of place channel markers, faded reflectors, etc. If you notice a missing or out of place channel marker, damaged red triangle or black square or faded reflectors on any of these you should report this information to the Canadian Coast Guard in Parry Sound. You should include as much information as possible including buoy numbers, name of channel or specific location and details of the problem you are reporting. Written notes can be sent to; Canadian Coast Guard Supervisor Operations, Aids to Navigation, 28 Waubeek street, Parry Sound, ON, P2A 1B9 or phoned into 705-773-4322
The Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations have compiled the following list of 10 Safety Tips to remind people to make safety a priority getting to and while at the cottage. Here are the top 10 safety tips as you prepare to head up to the cottage, and after you get there. Check your car’s lights, signals, tire pressure and fluids before the trip to the cottage. Check your first-aid kit and replace any missing supplies. Check and maintain cottage smoke detectors and CO detectors. Check the condition of boat(s), including fuel lines and tanks. Check that all required safety equipment is on board and in good repair. Remove dry leaves and debris from the cottage roof and/or eavestroughs to reduce fire risk. Prepare for extreme
Responsibilities of Cottage Owners who rent or lend cottage boats.
First, check with your insurance company – are there any issues?
If a cottage owner still chooses to make a boat available to a person renting a cottage they should be aware...
Here is a link to a great short video our friends at Safe Quiet Lakes produced on Boat Noise.
By Cottage Life A joy of cottage life often involves walking down to the dock and taking the boat out to indulge in a variety of activities like fishing, parasailing, or water skiing. For the less active among us, there’s always the joy of taking a pleasure cruise out as far as possible before sinking the anchor and simply taking in the sunshine. When you’ve got a boat, there are multiple ways to take advantage of our great summer weather on our rivers and lakes. Our summers may be short, but it’s important to take the time to ensure your boating experiences are both fun and safe, so you and your family can enjoy time together on the water for many summers to come. Here are 5 tips you should follow when you’re out on the water at the cottage this summer and every summer: