View topic - How well do you know your environment?

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PostPosted: August 30th, 2011, 1:25 pm 

Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 375
I post this as a sortof PSA to folks who may not have considered the other users of the space they enjoy.

We have a small sailboat on Lake Simcoe, and have enjoyed a few trips here and there on it. An annual event that we like to go for is the Canada Day fireworks out on the lake. If you head out on Victoria Day or Canada Weekend, you can sit off De La Salle Beach in Georgina and enjoy firworks up and down the lake. On Canada Day, the town pulls out a barge and does up quite a show.

This year as we were anchored and waiting for the show to start, we saw a canoe head out from shore. In the light breeze, the paddlers had little trouble, and quickly reached the Green buoy off Jackson's Point which they tied off to, and let the canoe bob while they sat through the gathering dusk.

My wife and I looked at them incredulously.

Certainly that marker shows where a shoal is, but the shoal is marked for sailboats with a draft of about 8 feet. Most boaters on the lake have that buoy dialed in to their GPS to get to the beach. It is a known fishing spot. As it got darker, a steady stream of boats would be arriving, and this canoe would be swamped, run over, or get in trouble. Indeed, the police were doing good business pulling in skiboats full of drunks and whatnot.

We hailed the canoeists and invited them aboard. They refused. I swung the boat around closer to them and by yelling and gesturing, explained the danger they were in. Eventually I convinced them to tie-up alongside us. With our deck lights, cabin lights, and mast lights, our boat was far more visible than the low profile of the canoe. We enjoyed their company, sharing a drink and talking, then as the fireworks wrapped up, the canoe slipped away to paddle to shore, in the dark. Another foolhardy manoever considering the boat traffic around us.

I can't blame the paddlers for thinking that tieing off to a hazard marker would be safe, but not realizing how the marker was actually used was a problem in this case, and paddling into a fireworks display at night is just dangerous. The couple in the canoe said they often go night paddling and like that no one is out there to bother them. They were surprised by the number of boats out this night. Know the event you are going to and what it will hold. they also said that at night they didn't have to worry about the cops stopping them, so they could leave all their gear at home. ie. no flashlights to signal. This night, the bay was crawling with cops.

Maybe they never considered that the other boaters night vision would be compromised by the mix of fireworks, navigation lights and police light bars out there, maybe they really expected an empty bay to watch the fireworks from, and maybe they thought that they were more visible than they actually were, but please beware that even though you have rights out there, once you are in the water, especially at night, who was right and wrong doesn't add up to much.

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