Their job is to ensure boaters stay safe.
“We will avoid issuing tickets wherever possible,” Reserve Const. Phil Boissonneault said. “We are really out here not so much to generate revenue for the government but to keep people from drowning.”
Boissonneault and his partner Reserve Const. Randy Ferris are among the officers who patrol lakes from the south Okanagan to the Shuswap.
In many cases, he said, the patrol team does find infractions.
“On average we will only find one boat in 10 that can actually pass an inspection,” Boissonneault said. “With all other nine boats out of the 10 there’s usually something wrong.”
On Wednesday morning, the marine patrol team took a Global Okanagan news crew on one of its vessels as it inspected boats on Okanagan Lake.
“This body of water in particular is one of the most dangerous bodies of water in British Columbia,” Boissonneault said. “This is a very high-volume lake when it comes to boating. On any given weekend, there could be thousands of boats on this lake.”
The first thing the RCMP marine patrol team looks for is proper documentation.
“We look for the documentation they are required to have onboard a boat,” Boissonneault said, “They have to have the boat properly licensed, and a copy of that licence on board, that’s like the registration in your car and they also need a pleasure-craft operator’s card and picture identification to go along with that pleasure craft operator’s card.”
Once documentation is inspected, the focus turns to the required safety equipment.
“The one thing we look at seriously is PFDs (personal flotation devices) because that is the one item of safety equipment that could mean the difference of life and death,” Boissonneault said.
Every boat has to have enough PFDs for every person onboard and under the Canada Shipping Act, they must all be Canadian approved.
Other safety equipment officers look for are fire extinguishers, flares, and watertight flashlights.
But the equipment and how much of it is required depends on the size of the vessel.
Global Okanagan News was alongside the RCMP marine patrol team for four inspections Wednesday morning and all four boat operators received warnings for a number of infractions, mostly to do with documentation.
Click here for the Transport Canada rules on boating safety and what’s required by law.
On Thursday, Global News will look into the rules on alcohol consumption on boats.