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Boating Safety Tips for Bluenose Sailors


Nova Scotia has a proud boating history. We are home of the Bluenose! If you are one of the many boat-loving Nova Scotian, this blog is for you.  Whether you own a sailboat or motorboat, you know it is important to be safe.  Boating safety requires a steady, unwavering vigilance. With Summer sailing along, as a boating rookie or veteran, take a moment to review these helpful boating safety tips.

  1. Get your license & take a boating safety course.

Just like driving a car, the law says you need a license to drive a boat. A Pleasure Craft Operating Card (PCOC) is mandatory for anyone who operates a power-driven boat and should be carried with you at all times while onboard your boat. You can get your PCOC by passing a boating safety test available through Transport Canada and here’s a link to their web page. In a boating safety course, you will learn safe boating practices, prevention measures, and ways to reduce risk.

  1. Be prepared and complete a pre-departure checklist.

Before taking your boat out on the water, make sure to have it fully inspected and stocked with all of the essentials. Check the fuel levels, instrument lights, ventilation, battery charge, engine oil, and coolant levels. Make sure you have the following items on board with you:

  • Personal flotation devices
  • Tools and spare parts
  • Food and water
  • First aid kit
  • Radio to receive weather updates
  • Distress signals
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Rules and documentation

For your convenience download our Bauld Insurance Boating Pre-Departure Checklist.

  1. Be careful, be safe, and wear a lifejacket!

Check that all the safety equipment on board and in good working condition. At the top of the list is a lifejackets/PFDs for every passenger. Coldwater immersion is a serious risk, so make sure all passengers buckle up a properly fitted lifejacket. Be sure to pack these safety essentials: a buoyant heaving line, a sound signaling device (like a whistle attached to a lifejacket), a bailing bucket, a watertight flashlight, a paddle, and anchor. And keep these items within easy reach as emergencies happen fast. Plus, these items make for smart boating: sunscreen, water, snacks, and clean dry clothes.

  1. Don’t drink and drive.

Just like driving a car, it is illegal and dangerous to drink and drive. Drinking while driving a boat incurs the same legal penalty as a car-related DUI. So, if you are driving the boat, be a good designated driver.

  1. Plan your trip.

It is always good to have and know your route plan and use official nautical charts. It’s also a very good idea to fill out a Trip Plan Form.  This outlines information about your boat (make, year, name, colour), your destination, travel route, expected return time, the names of all the people in your party, and instructions in case of emergency. Leave one copy with someone responsible at home. And make sure to keep a close eye on the weather. Think ahead about what to do if the water turns rough.

  1. Be well protected with the right boat insurance.

Your boat is meant to be fun – the right boat insurance will give you added peace of mind. Boat Insurance broadly works similarly to car and auto insurance with coverages such as liability, collision, fire, and theft.  In addition, coverages like windstorms, outboard motors, trailers, and navigation limits are unique to boat operations.

With decades of experience, Bauld Insurance is a leading provider of Boat Insurance in the HRM. Get answers to your frequently asked questions on boat insurance and request a no-strings-attached review of your current policy.