When the Canadian Safe Boating Council speaks to Canadian boaters each year about the dangers of drinking and boating, there is no gentle way to do it.
The motto on the road is “if you drink, don’t drive”. It’s the same on the water. And so are the laws.
First and foremost, a boat is a vessel in the same way a car is a vehicle under the Highway Traffic Acts in all provinces and territories in this country. If you are convicted in Canada of driving a vehicle under the influence, you lose your licence. In many parts of Canada, the same thing applies if you are under the influence in a boat. And you might lose your car driver’s license too.
Canadian studies show that, in nearly 40% of boating deaths, alcohol was detected or suspected and 23% of victims were above the legal limit.
The effects of sunshine and a boat’s rocking motion increase the effects of alcohol and, for a boater, a simple ride can turn into a dangerous dunking. A big wave, a quick change in the boat’s direction, or a ‘tippy canoe’ can result in someone in the water.
Psychologists know that human nature has a way of rationalizing. “It can’t possibly happen to me” is often the thought. Whether that means “I’ll never be caught” or “I’ll never be killed” doesn’t matter.
Neither of those things will happen if boaters stick to just boating on the water. Afterward, you can have a few drinks on shore and then stay put.
It’s that simple – If you drink, don’t drive.
This article was written by the Canadian Safe Boating Council for Safe Boating Awareness Week 2015.