Screen Shot 1By Andy Adams

Which is best? Which is legal? And, when should you signal for help?

Photo: A demonstration of a smoke flare with the Canadian Coast Guard responding. Photo courtesy of CPS-ECP

Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares have only been introduced in the last couple of years - and they aren't Canadian Coast Guard approved for use in Canada, at least not yet.

But which one is best? And the more important question is: When should you signal for help?

When the authorities do a vessel inspection on the water, they are looking for equipment that is in compliance with the regulations such as lifejackets, bailing buckets, sound signaling devices, and so on. It's all laid out in the Small Vessel Regulations and larger vessels are to be properly and fully equipped; but for visual signals, vessels under six metres are only required to carry a watertight flashlight, not necessarily flares. Yet aren’t those smaller vesselsthe ones thatare most likely to need help in an emergency?

There are far more small boats, and many are used by less experienced boaters. A simple mistake can turn into an emergency very quickly in a small boat - a man overboard emergency, unexpected swamping,or a sudden capsize in your kayak.
At the 2016 Canadian Safe Boating Council (CASBA) Awards, I was excited to see the Canadian Safe Boating Council recognize the then-new Weems & Plath and Sirius Signal,which won the “Safeguarding the Environment Award.”Why?

Distress Flares 2When a boater experiences a problem, even something like running out of fuel or a dead battery, it is far safer and less expensive for the SAR teams to get help early – don’t wait till the situation becomes dangerous.

First, because the Weems & Plath “Electronic Flare” as it was called, was not yet approved for use in Canada, but primarily because there is potential environmental damage when a pyrotechnic flare is set off, or a spent flare is disposed of in a landfill. They contain some very toxic materials. So,that’s why the electronic flare won the award and I felt it looked like a great idea for many reasons; however, legally, Canadian vessels over six metres are still required to carry flares.

To get a better perspective on these questions, we contacted two of the most experienced and knowledgeable people we know on this subject: John Gullick from the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, who is a former chairman of the Canadian Safe Boating Council and sits on several marine advisory committees; and Ted Rankine, also a former chairman of the Canadian Safe Boating Council, co-creator of the CASBA awards program, and the founder of the long-running Powerboat Television show. On board his own boat and also on his aircraft, Ted carries flares.

Doing the Powerboat Television show for so many years, Ted became very involved in boating safety and filmed mock emergency situations and demonstration flare deployments for the show.

Distress Signals 3Ted Rankine holds a flare gun and also an electronic distress strobe - he has both in his safety kit but he believes flares get attention fastest

He shared an experience he had while shooting an episode of Powerboat Television at Roche's Point on Lake Simcoe. With the assistance of York Regional Police and the Canadian Coast Guard, Ted and his team filed the proper papers for ‘Notice to Mariners’ that there would be a demonstration of flare use at dusk on Roche's Point on a particular evening and that it was not a real emergency. In spite of that, within 10 to 15 minutes,nine different boats had responded, ready to give assistance. Boaters recognized the flare signal and came as fast as they could.

The experience convinced Ted of the flare’s power to get attention.

"I want a flare,” he said. “I think it’s like a shout compared to a conversation.”

John Gullick told us that while the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons are not taking a side on this, he has deployed flares in controlled demonstrations. John also did a Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) presentation with marine safety equipment manufacturer, Pains Wessex, demonstrating their new electronic strobe distress signal. The demonstration includedone with fresh batteries and one that had already run for 60 hours, andit was difficult to see the difference between thetwo.

United States Search and Rescue technicians have also seen it in action and reported that it was very visible, especially at night. It would help people to hone in on a person at sea and get really on target with the continuous strobe flash.

John noted that radio distress calls will not be as “close to target” even during the day. The strobe is visible in daylight as well, although obviously, it shows up best in the dark.

John notes that after the real energy blast of a flare has burned, there's nothing left to draw attention versus the electronic strobe that will keep flashing for days. The electronic versions also avoid accidental discharge in a moment of panic that could make an emergency even worse.

John anticipates that electronic strobe distress flares will eventually be approved in Canada,but probably as a supplement to pyrotechnic distress flares.

Ted believes the strobe types are a great supplement, but he points out that the critical issue in a real emergency is whento call for help. He talked about the “accidental accident.” In other words, when something simple like a dead battery or running out of fuel later turns into a stormy night on the lake. Here are some key tips:

• Always carry the required safety equipment in every size of boat
• Wear your lifejacket
• Leave a float plan – let people know when you have not returned as expected
• As soon as a problem hits, call for help. Get help in daylight
• Call home, call your marina, but call…don’t wait for someone to happen past
• When it starts to get dark, make the call to Search and Rescue - don’t delay
• Dial 911 on your cell phone to get the police
• Or, dial*16 on your cell phone to be connected directly to the Canadian Coast Guard
• If you don’t see help nearby, and you can’t fix the problem, and you don’t have a cell phone or a VHF radio, deploy a flare
• Have the required flares onboard (and why not get an electronic strobe?)
• Smoke flares are useful in daylight
• Use a multi-star flare or a parachute flare for prolonged exposure and have more than one flare
• The first one captures somebody's attention, but it's the second one that they notice and are able to focus on

Finally, if you have expired flares, keep them onboard as spares. Having more than just three flares can be really valuable. After you buy fresh flares (and an electronic strobe) visit the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons’ website to learn about the flare disposal program so you can properly recycle your old flares.

Safe boating!

http://www.cps-ecp.ca
http://www.orionsignals.com
http://www.painswessex.com
http://www.weems-plath.com

Lifestyle

  • Prev
I am new to boating. Bought a 2019 Ranger Tug in April followed by taking a short boating course ...
Arie and Maribeth sent us this photo from their honeymoon departing Killarney…I think they were in ...
This shot was taken last week by Jessica Lee, a freelance photography pro, Albacore racer and part ...
On a sunny and windless day we led Alicia and another sailboat into New York Harbour. There were ...
It was a trip 2 or 3 years ago, and all 4 boats traveled up to the Killarney area in a ...
My name is Alexandrine GOVAN, mother of a 5 years old girl and I found your contact on internet. ...
John Booth, who passed away just a few weeks ago was one of the most amazingly gifted and ...
We left Vero Beach on Saturday morning with Alicia, a boat from Sweden, following close behind. The ...
At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...
ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1The Oceanis official US debut will be at the upcoming Newport International Boat Show in September and will be featured at the United States Sailboat show in Annapolis in October.

With an overall size under 30 feet and a light displacement of less than 8,805 lbs., the Oceanis is easily trailerable without a wide load permit. If you prefer to access your sailing grounds by canals and rivers, the lifting keel and rotating mast open a world of endless possibilities. Perfect for sailing on lakes or for coastal hopping, this new Oceanis is, nevertheless, a robust category B sailing yacht, fitted for offshore sailing. The smallest of the range offers the biggest choice of programs! 

Read more about the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1............................

 

Grady White Freedom 235 Dual ConsoleBy Jill Snider

Once again, I had the pleasure of joining CY’s test guru Andy Adams on a boat review. This time, out on Georgian Bay, we put the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console to the test. There are so many great things to tell you about this classic beauty.

Andy
If I were required to compare Grady White’s Freedom 235 Dual Console to an animal, I would tell you that she has the character of a Labrador Retriever. Here are a few reasons why...

Read More about the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console......................

Destinations

  • Prev
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...
If you haven’t cruised the Rideau Canal before, you have missed a special treat and even if you ...
At the 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allyson and ...
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
There is good anchoring in Cowichan Bay and nearby, and salt water enough to make any boater happy. ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...


Coal Harbour MarinaVancouver is ranked one of the most liveable cities in the world. You can explore much of the cityscape by water and moor at several marinas. The city offers the marine visitor a panoply of fine dining, waterside pubs, shopping and cultural amenities.

English Bay and False Creek, one of the choice urban boating destinations in North America, bring you into the heart of the city. Good moorage and anchorages are available and there is lots happening both on the water and all along the shoreline.

 

 

Read more about Vancouver...........

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
The Seabin device part of the Oak Bay Marine Group trial, has had promising results so far while ...
When I took the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV down to Wednesday night racing, the people that came over ...
Protecting your boat from scratches and dents isn’t always easy. That’s why the Big Bumper Company ...
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - Forespar has just introduced a new smaller size version of their ...
As boaters we all have a very unique connection to the water and all the opportunities it presents. ...
Edited by the Quebec Marine Association under the direction of L'Escale Nautique (producer of the ...
Blue Guard has announced the general availability of the BG-One, a solid-state bilge pump switch, ...
With the introduction of the Ion Power Basic, a safe Lithium Ion battery formulated with Lithium, ...
Finding a car brand that you enjoy while it does what you need can be tough, as they can be ...
Yikes! No boat refrigeration? You’ve Got to be Kidding me!! But then again, true campers don’t use ...