Bad boaters abound

North Okanagan patrols result in 19 charges, 35 warnings and 14 vessels ordered off the water

Boat checks over the long weekend revealed a number of infractions. (Bob Vanderford Photography)

Safety appears to be thrown overboard for a significant number of boaters.

The Conservation Officer service was kept busy over the Canada Day long weekend, patroling Shuswap River, Mabel Lake and Sugar Lake.

Officers checked 41 vessels, 168 people and issued 19 charges, 35 warnings and ordered 14 vessels off the water for safety deficiencies.

“Compliance was therefore, not great – ticketing 46 per cent of the vessels checked,” said Leah Mellott with the Regional District of North Okanagan.

High water on Shuswap River allowed more prop boats between Mara Lake and the Grindrod bridge, which was busier than normal.

“There weren’t a lot of tubers out yet (perhaps due to the river still being chilly), however less than half the tubers checked had life jackets,” Mellott reports.

Compliance was also poor for Personal Water Craft (PWC) with five charges and five orders off the water out of only 15 vessel inspections.

“One PWC failed to stop and needed to be chased down. It was being operated by a significantly underage young man with no operator card, which resulted in charges for the operator and his parent,” said Mellott.

An impaired woman was also stopped as she was attempting to embark from the beach on a PWC. A couple vessels had gross safety equipment deficiencies and were charged and ordered off the water.

“On a positive note, the majority of people were observed being very responsible with respect to alcohol use and operating vessels. The highlight was one vessel leaving the Grindrod Pub that had a designated driver.”

Meanwhile patrols in the Centrol Okanagan showed more favourable results.

“RCMP vessels on patrol were out in full force this past weekend in and around Kelowna, and officers are pleased to report that the general public seem to be getting the message, when it comes to boat safety on the waters of Central Okanagan lakes,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

Officers did have a difficult time locating vessels on the water with insufficient personal flotation devices (PFD’s) or proper life jackets for all passengers on board along with other essential safety equipment dependent on the size of their vessel, such as fire extinguishers, buoyant heaving lines, bailers, re-boarding devices, sound signalling devices, or flash lights to name a few.

Multiple vessel operators were also found without Pleasure Craft Operator’s Cards or the necessary documentation to prove licensing and ownership of their vessel. Failure to do so could result in the operator being directed to shore, ticketed under the Small Vessel Regulations (SVR) and/or the subject of a criminal code investigation launched to determine whether or not the vessel has been reported as stolen.

“Enforcement officers have also encountered excessively noisy vessels on the water with loud exhaust contrary to section 1000 (1) of the Small Vessel Regulations (SVR), which states that no person shall operate a power driven vessel unless it’s equipped with a muffler that is in good working order,” said O’Donaghey.

For more information on best practices, check out the Safe Boating Guide at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/marinesafety/TP-511e.pdf