A Ridge Meadows RCMP officer says the local boating community knows what they’re doing for the most part.
Staff Sergeant Scott Grimmer is one of about 10 officers who is licenced to operate the detachment’s rigid hull Zodiac.
He and his colleagues are out on the local waterways like Alouette Lake and Pitt Lake most weekends between Victoria Day and Labour Day.
“We’re pretty impressed,” he said of boat operators who frequent the local waterways.
“Most people have their safety equipment, they’re prepared, and the vast majority are cooperative and nice to deal with.”
Some issues keep arising, however, Grimmer noted.
“Year-after-year-after-year, people are unprepared for the terrain on Pitt Lake,” he said.
The second largest lake in the Lower Mainland is tidal in nature, so its depth will vary by a couple metres over the course of a day.
“It has sand bars all throughout,” Grimmer pointed out. “And there’s a guided channel.”
In one shift last year, the officer said he came across two separate instances of boaters getting beached because they were unaware of the depths of the sand bars relative to the tide.
“In some cases they’re stuck there until the next high tide,” he said.
“I’ve had a tow company come out and be unsuccessful in getting someone out of that sand, until there’s more water to lift the boat up, which can be stressful.”
As such, Grimmer said it is not a good idea for newcomers to rent a boat for the day, and take to the lake.
Impaired boating is not really that much of an issue, he volunteered, but one safety note too often neglected is a simple one.
When out on the waterways, Grimmer said people will typically have the correct number personal flotation devices on board, but they will not be wearing them.
“You don’t have time to put one on in the event of an accident,” he said.
“People say they want to get a tan, or that the jacket is uncomfortable, but it does save lives, there’s no question.”
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