Safe And Sober Boating

Get Ready for a Safe & Sober Summer Boating Season

Hamilton Police Service Marine Unit and Hamilton Port Authority Harbour Masters Office/ Port Patrol launch a new campaign to keep recreational boaters safe on Hamilton Harbour
Summer sailing season is finally here, and the Hamilton Police Service Marine Unit (HPS) and Hamilton Port Authority Harbour Masters Office/Port Patrol (HPA) are reaching out to recreational boaters with a new safety information campaign.
The campaign, dubbed ‘Operation Safe & Sober’ focuses on tips to stay safe while enjoying the water this boating season. The information is a refresher on safety practices all boaters should know, like wearing a life jacket, and not drinking and boating.
The campaign also addresses an issue that is particularly relevant to Hamilton Harbour: how to safely share the harbour with large commercial cargo ships.
Close to 600 large commercial vessels sail into Hamilton Harbour each year. “Recreational boaters, especially those visiting from elsewhere, may not be used to seeing or navigating around the big ships,” said Hamilton Harbour Master Vicki Gruber. “These vessels are massive and obviously not as maneuverable as small craft. Our message is: stay alert and steer clear.”
The HPS Marine Unit and HPA’s Harbour Master’s Office/Port Patrol will be reaching out directly to recreational boaters on the water and at local marinas throughout the season.
“Our priority is the safety of all users of our waterways. You can expect to see us actively patrolling and conducting vessel safety inspections in Hamilton Harbour and Western Lake Ontario. Our goal is to promote and increase boater safety through a combination of education and enforcement,” said Constable Ben Rushton of the HPA Marine Unit.
The HPS Marine Unit and HPA’s Harbour Master’s Office/Port Patrol work closely together to keep Hamilton Harbour safe for commercial and recreational marine uses.
Top Tips
Safe Navigation
• Show navigation lights from sunset to sunrise, and when visibility is reduced.
• Stay clear of commercial docks and slips.
• Always keep out of the way of commercial vessels. You do not want to be where you cannot be seen by the captain operating the vessel.
• Never pass between a tug and its tow.
• Stay alert and maintain a safe speed at all times.
• Be familiar with any navigational dangers in your area. Check your charts!
Sober Boating
• Alcohol is a factor in nearly 40 per cent of boating incidents
• Sun, wind, waves and motion of the boat can exacerbate the effects of alcohol
• Open alcohol and consumption are illegal on all pleasure craft while underway
• Alcohol may only be consumed while at anchor or docked, and only if your vessel has permanent sleeping, cooking and washroom facilities.
Safe Operation
• All pleasure craft are required to have properly fitted lifejackets or PFDs for each person on board
• Boaters are strongly encouraged to wear their PFDs at all times.
• Every year, more than 100 Canadians drown while boating. Nearly 90 per cent of them were not wearing a PFD, or did not have it done up properly.
• For assistance, use VHF Radio channel 16, or dial *16 on your cell phone.
Check the Weather
• Always check the forecast before setting out. Current conditions on Hamilton Harbour are available on Harbour West Marina’s website at