THUNDER BAY – Honest, spring is coming. A sure sign of the coming warmer weather is the Canadian Coast Guard has opened up its stations across the Great Lakes. Commercial shipping on the Great Lakes is enjoying an ever longer season.
In preparation for the 2013 recreational boating season on the Great Lakes, Georgian Bay and St. Lawrence River, Canadian Coast Guard stations across Ontario are now open. Coast Guard Search and Rescue professionals are stationed at Kingston, Cobourg, Port Weller, Port Dover, Amherstburg, Goderich, Tobermory, Meaford, and Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The Canadian Coast Guard is reminding all mariners that lower than average water levels in some areas of the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay may pose risks to navigation. Safe navigation begins with preparation and consultation of the available up-to-date data. Before venturing onto the waterways, it is recommended that boaters take the following steps:
1. Keep up-to-date charts onboard your vessel and consult them. For a list of chart dealers, visit: www.charts.gc.ca. In Thunder Bay you can get charts at Geological Supplies Inc. at 404 Balmoral Street or at Curries Copy Shop at 1123 Russell Street.
2. The Canadian Coast Guard advises the marine public of hazards to navigation through broadcasts and written Notices to Shipping (NOTSHIPS). These NOTSHIPS, along with the marine weather forecast and other important navigational information, can be found at: http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/e-navigation/index/GreatLakesNavigationalArea.
3. Marine information, such as weather and Notices to Shipping are also available on the Coast Guard’s Continuous Marine Broadcast, which can be monitored on VHF radio channels 21B, 23B, 28B and 83B, depending upon your location. For any marine assistance, contact the nearest Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre on VHF channel 16.
4. Take into account that low water levels affect the position of buoys. In such conditions, buoys may not be sufficient for accurate identification of a navigation zone or a channel that is safe for certain vessels.
5. Do not venture into unfamiliar areas without obtaining information about obstacles and obstructions.
6. Reduce your vessel’s speed where the current permits, and know the draft of your vessel.