On Port Townsend Bay, the Shoshanna, a Ralston Trawler owned by Carl and Sue Sidle of the Port Townsend Yacht Club, glides by the reviewing dock at the Northwest Maritime Center during Saturday’s opening day celebration of boating season. (Jeannie McMacken/ Peninsula Daily News)

Boaters urged to stay sober on B.C. Day long weekend

Statistics suggest 40 per cent of all boating deaths involve alcohol impairment

With the legalization of marijuana around the corner, a boating safety group is hoping to get ahead of any misunderstanding around exactly how dangerous boating while high can be.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council estimates 40 per cent of boating-related deaths are caused by alcohol impairment. The council said in a news release Tuesday there’s plenty of reason for similar concern to be felt for those impaired by pot or narcotics.

“Boaters need to keep in mind that extended exposure to the summer sun, combined with the wind- and wave-induced rocking motion of the boat, are stressors that significantly intensifies any impairment on the operator’s part,” the council said.

“At minimum, these impairments affect one’s judgment, often resulting in boaters taking risks that they wouldn’t normally take that can lead to severe injury [or] death.”

During the upcoming August long weekend, the council is launching its annual campaign to send the message about driving a boat sober and only consume intoxicating substances once back on shore.

The Operation Dry Water campaign, in its sixth year, is backed by more police and coast guard officials out on the water as well.

In B.C., boat operators who’ve had more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood can be fined $1,000 for the first offence, get 30 days in jail for the second offence, and 120 days in jail for a third offence.


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