The Canadian Power and Sail Squadron (CPS) Boating Course, offered by the Pender Island Squadron, convenes weekly September through December. It is an excellent way to learn the basics of navigation and safety, and to obtain the PCOC. You can meet fellow mariners and take the course in a structured way. Instructors are typically very thorough and enthusiastic, and some have won national teaching awards. The Pender Island Squadron is part of the Vancouver Island South District, www.visd.org. The National CPS number is 1.888.CPS.BOAT and web site is www.cps-ecp.ca.
The Pender Island Squadron also teaches Pender Island Grade 8 students the Boat Pro boating safety course, an abbreviated version of the more thorough Boating Course. Students who pass the exam receive the PCOC. Other CPS courses taught on Pender Island during the winter include Fundamentals of Weather and Global Weather, VHF Radio operator's certification and the advanced courses Piloting, Advanced Piloting and Marine Maintenance.
and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
Every year in Canada hundreds of Canadians drown while boating. Most of them never intended to be in the water, they were just enjoying their boating activity. Most of them, over 87%, are not wearing a lifejacket or a PFD (or did not have it done up properly) when they drown.
When it comes to lifejackets or PFD’s, close by isn’t close enough. Choose to WEAR your lifejacket or PFD and make every boating outing a return trip.
Lifejackets vs PFD’s
A Canadian approved standard lifejacket, when worn properly, is designed to turn an unconscious person from face down to face up in the water, allowing them to breathe. The standard lifejacket is keyhole style and comes in two sizes - one for people who weigh over 40 kg (90 lbs), and one for people who weigh less than 40 kg (90 lbs).
Standard lifejackets must be orange, yellow or red, and have a whistle attached.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s):
A Canadian approved PFD is designed to keep you afloat in the water.
PFDs were designed for use in recreational boating and are generally smaller, less bulky and more comfortable than lifejackets. They have less flotation than lifejackets, and have limited turning capacity, but are available in a variety of styles and colours
An inflatable is a type of personal flotation device that either automatically inflates when immersed in water, or is inflated by the wearer using either an oral or manual inflation device. Most inflatable PFDs use a carbon dioxide cartridge to inflate. Approved inflatable PFDs can be worn if you are 16 years or older and weigh more than 36 kilograms.
Things to consider when choosing a flotation device
- Activities: Consider the water activities that you enjoy. Today there are PFD’s specially designed for various activities including pleasure boating, fishing, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Note that inflatable lifejackets or PFD’s are not approved for some uses in Canada. Be sure to choose a PFD that meets your particular needs.
- Colour: PFD's are available in many bright colours. The Canadian Coast Guard strongly recommends bright colours for better visibility.
- Size: Sizing is based on chest measurements for adults and weight for children -- read the label for details. Try the lifejacket or PFD on. It should fit snugly, with all the buckles, zippers and snaps done up, but still allow room to breathe and move around freely. Try walking and sitting in it too. Your PFD is too big if you can pull it over your ears, and too small if you cannot fasten all buckles and straps.
Approved: Check the label to make sure the PFD or lifejacket is approved for use in Canada.
Children’s flotation devices
There are approved PFD's and lifejackets designed especially for children. When you purchase a child’s approved flotation device, look for the following:
- Canadian approval labels detailing the appropriate chest size or weight
- A large collar for extra protection and support to the child’s head
- A grab strap on the collar
- Bright colors; yellow, orange or red are most easily seen
- Sturdy, rust-proof buckles and zipper
- Waist ties with snug-fitting drawstrings or elastic in front and back
- A safety strap that fastens between the legs to prevent the device from slipping over the child’s head
- Reflective tape and a plastic whistle should also be
- Make sure that the approved flotation device is comfortable, yet snug.
- Do not buy a PFD or lifejacket that is too large in the hope that the child will grow into it.
- Remember that a PFD can never replace adult supervision. Keep your child within arms length at all times when in, on or around the water.
After you have selected a flotation device for a child, we recommend that you attach reflective tape and a plastic whistle.
Important: In Canada, there are no approved flotation devices for children weighing 20 pounds and under. Transport Canada recommends that you wait until your child reaches 20 lbs. before you go boating with them. For further information, visit Transport Canada at http://www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/debs/obs/equipment/lifejackets/few_words.htm#LJ03
Visit Mustang Survival
to view their full line of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs).
For further information on lifejackets and PFDs - how to size them, wear them and care for them, visit BoatSmart Canada at http://www.boatsmartcanada.com/main.asp?id=002512
Testing a lifejacket or PFD
To test your new lifejacket or PFD, take the following steps:
- In a supervised area, put your lifejacket or PFD on and wade out into chest deep water.
- Bend your knees and float on your back.
Make sure your flotation device keeps your chin above water and you can still breathe easily.
Practice swimming on your stomach and back.
Here’s a good pre-departure checklist:
Have you checked the hull for splits, crack, bulges or other signs of damage?
Check the battery’s charge and fluid levels.
Verify that all hoses, clamps, and belts
are secure and in good condition. Ensure that the engine throttle mechanism
does not stick or bind. Verify that the steering operates smoothly.
What is the weather forecast
Do you have current charts
or maps for the area in which you will be boating?
Are there enough approved PFDs and lifejackets
of appropriate type and size for everyone on board?
Is all required safety equipment
on board and in good working order?
Check oil levels
. Is there ample fuel
for the trip or will you need to refuel along the way? A good rule of thumb for fuel is that you require one-third for the trip out, one-third for the return trip, and one-third as a reserve.
Is your VHF radio
Have you checked for any local water hazards
or boating restrictions
along the route?
Do you have a first aid kit
Do you have a repair kit
with basic tools and spare parts?
Have you filed a sail plan
or let a responsible person know where you are going, when you expect to return, and what your vessel looks like?
Did you give your passengers a safety briefing
Who pulled out the plug?