The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Team wants boaters to take safety more seriously on the Fraser River and to wear their life jackets.
Last Saturday night, a 30-year-old man went missing after falling overboard into the Fraser River when the boat he and a friend were cruising in ran out of gas.
Search and rescue teams spent hours looking for him but called the search off later that night. They believe the man was not wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).
Brian Hobbs, who volunteers for the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Team, says boaters underestimate the Fraser and other rivers, especially this time of year when the current is strong from the spring melt.
"It looks quite calm on the surface," he says. "But underneath it's moving quite quickly and it could overpower even a strong swimmer."
Hobbs believes the most important action boaters can take to stay safe is obvious: wear a lifejacket.
He is surprised by the number of calls he responds to from boaters who don't think to put on their PFDs even though they're in trouble.
"You likely will not have the time to put it on when you need it," he cautions.
He often responds to calls from boaters who've run out of fuel, hit something that has damaged their boat, or set out in a vessel that wasn't safe.
"People just have that attitude of it's not going to happen to them," he says.
"Make sure your vessel is seaworthy and have all the necessary safety equipment on board."
He also recommends:
- Know the area you're boating through.
- Take the time to talk with a local about the river conditions before you launch.
- Have a plan for the day.
- Prepare yourself and your vessel for anything that could happen.
- Have someone on shore who knows your plan.