By the middle of summer, boating is in full swing. With warmer water, hotter days and many enjoying fun in the sun on their boats, it is the perfect time to remind Canadian boaters about the risks of drinking and boating.
Alcohol is a factor in nearly 40% of boating incidents and many Canadians simply do not understand that there are intensifying factors, known as “stressors”, such as sun, wind, waves and the rocking motion of the boat that can greatly increase the effects of alcohol on the water.
There are many vessels where drinking is simply not allowed. Open alcohol containers are only allowed on boats that are designed to be ‘residences’, with sleeping facilities, a head (washroom facilities) and cooking facilities. And drinking is only allowed when that boat is at anchor, docked or hard aground; never while underway.
The laws surrounding when a boater is considered impaired mirror provincial driving laws. Some provinces have even put in place legislation that has impaired boating affecting the boaters’ rights to drive their automobile; being charged on the water equals remedies on land. In provinces that have not enacted similar legislation, many boaters forget that “having a few too many” on the water, by extension, may lead to being impaired while driving home.
In 2013, the Canadian Safe Boating Council launched a campaign over the first weekend in August called Operation Dry Water. This campaign focuses on messaging about the potential risks of drinking and boating, the remedies that are currently in place to discourage the behaviour and heightened police enforcement on the water.
During Operation Dry Water, marine law enforcement will saturate high traffic areas on lakes and canals throughout the provinces, intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol.
The ultimate goal behind Operation Dry Water is to raise public awareness and reduce the incidence of drinking and boating.