Story by Kyle Christensen, MyCowichanValleyNow.com

VICTORIA, BC – It’s North American Safe Boating Awareness Week and BC Ferries is reminding the operators of other boats to be aware of the big vessels.

Pleasure craft operators need to exercise caution when around BC Ferries vessels and Communications and Media Relations Manager Astrid Braunschmidt said there are three warning blasts boaters need to be aware of.

“One long blast, that’s what you’ll hear when the ferry is in dock and it indicates that the ferry is about to depart,” said Braunschmidt. “If you hear three short blasts, it indicates that the ferry is about to go astern or in reverse, five or more short blasts in rapid succession, that’s a warning that it’s unclear if the pleasure craft ahead is maneuvering in a way that it can avoid a collision.”

It’s far easier for the smaller watercraft to change their course then it is for a BC Ferries vessel to stop or turn, as Manager of Communication and Media Relations with BC Ferries, Astrid Braunschmidt explains.

“Boaters should keep in mind that ferries don’t maneuver quite as easily as smaller boats and it can take up to ten ship lengths for a ferry to come to a complete stop in an emergency situation,” said Braunschmidt. “So, [it’s a] really good idea to keep eyes open for ferries, if recreational boaters are going to be enjoying the waterways that are near the terminals and the ferry lanes.”

Last year, BC Ferries responded to 15 marine emergencies and these types of incidents increase in the summer months when more pleasure boaters are on the water.

It’s North American Safe Boating Awareness Week and Braunschmidt explains what this year’s campaign is geared toward.

“The campaign this year promotes responsible boating practices and has a number of tips and suggestions for people who are out on the water,” said Braunschmidt. “[It’s] a really good idea to take note of some of those suggestions, not only for the campaign this year but also from organizations like BC Ferries, we just want to make sure everyone is safe out on the water and enjoying the beautiful coastline.”

North American Safe Boating Awareness Week runs until Friday.