The Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat stations on the Great Lakes, Georgian Bay and St. Lawrence River are now open. The Coast Guard continues to maintain search and rescue operations during this time.
We remind boaters that public health officials’ guidance on physical distancing should be applied on the water, where possible, and boaters need to follow guidance from their local authorities. Where recreational boating is allowed, boaters must continue to maintain safe practices to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Should an emergency arise on the water, Coast Guard search and rescue services are operating as usual, ready to provide assistance.
The Inshore Rescue Boat stations are located at Britt and Brebeuf Island (Georgian Bay), Hill Island (St. Lawrence River), Port Lambton (St. Clair River), Thames River (Lake St. Clair) and Long Point (Lake Erie).
Each Inshore Rescue Boat station is crewed by post-secondary students hired and trained by the Canadian Coast Guard. They provide additional maritime search and rescue service during the busy summer recreational boating season. Across Ontario, the Coast Guard has lifeboat stations crewed by Coast Guard personnel in Thunder Bay, Tobermory, Meaford, Goderich, Amherstburg, Port Dover, Port Weller, Cobourg and Kingston.
Ashore, Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres in Sarnia and Prescott provide marine safety communications while co-ordination of the response to each search and rescue case is handled by the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton.
Waterways remain very cold at this time of year and take much longer to warm up compared to the air. Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide is an excellent source of information in preparation for the recreational boating season. The Safe Boating Guide can be found here.
Emergencies on the water can be reported 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, toll-free (within Canada) at 1-800-267-7270, or via marine VHF radio – channel 16.
Search and rescue is an essential service. During a search and rescue response, crew members are required to work in very close proximity to each other and members of the public. If members of the public encounter search and rescue crews, please notify them of any flu-like symptoms, or other symptoms that align with COVID-19. During regular operations, crews are taking all precautions to work at further distances from each other, in line with the advice of health professionals.