Boating safety. A very important thing, yet something I don’t think about too often simply because I don’t own a boat, and rarely get the chance to go out on the open water in one. Unfortunately, many Canadians are much like me when it comes to thinking about boating safety. When the summer sunshine and cool lake breezes are calling, we are quick to get out on the water, but far from prepared to deal with a boating mishap.
Boating accidents happen in all kinds of different watercraft, for different reasons. Sometimes boating accidents are caused by excessive speed, loss of control, drinking and boating, or sometimes, simply a tippy canoe.
Our tippy canoe “adventure” started with a crazy 4-wheeler ride up the side of a mountain. You see, my boyfriend’s uncle has access to a gorgeous, untouched Canadian lake, but you must first take a harrowing ride up a rocky mountain on a 4-wheeler to get to the lake. To make our trip up the mountain as easy as possible, we packed lightly, packing everything in one big knapsack, two small coolers for food and drinks, 2 beach towels, a picnic blanket…and of course, the dog. To keep Bella safe during the ride up, we strapped her crate onto the front of the 4 wheeler. We were all set to go!
The lake at the top of the mountain is a stunning gem of a Canadian lake. With clear water and completely surrounded by forest, this lake is one of the most isolated and beautiful places on earth.
Wanting to enjoy the true beauty of this lake, we loaded our stuff (and Bella) into one of the two canoes left at the side of the lake, all set to make a short paddle over to a small island. Easy right? We thought so. Having paddled in many canoes before, we both knew we had to keep everything balanced, storing everything evenly in the middle of the canoe, and each sit at opposite ends of the canoe (with knees on the bottom of the boat). We placed our knapsack, coolers, blanket and towels in the canoe and then I climbed carefully into the front of the canoe. My boyfriend placed Bella into the canoe, then carefully climbed in himself. We were all balanced and ready to paddle! But wait….I noticed we forgot to put the life jackets in the canoe! Even though we weren’t paddling far to the island, I’m always concerned about our safety so my boyfriend offered to get back out and grab the life jackets. All was good…until he went to climb back into the boat.
Pushing the canoe out a little ways from shore to get it floating, my boyfriend then climbed back into canoe, sat down carefully on the bench, shifted his weight and….oh no!!! Our tippy canoe flipped us all overboard!
Let me tell you, it’s an awful feeling to know you are going overboard and there is just nothing you can do about it!
All our gear, Bella, and us. Into the murky, silty water.
We were in the water before we knew it. Clothes and all.
As we struggled to stand up, the mud sucked our feet down deep into the lake bottom. Ewwwww….just ewwwww!
Having never capsized in a boat before, I was amazed at how quickly the canoe filled with water. Lucky for us we were close to shore and only in a couple of feet of water. We managed to get up (after I had gashed my leg on a sharp branch hiding in the water), grab our soaked dog and water-logged bags, and throw them onshore. We grabbed the blanket and towels last.
After we got over the initial shock of what had just happened, we weren’t ready to give up yet. We decided to tie up the tippy canoe and opt for the second canoe instead. We loaded all our soaked gear, the dog, and our dripping selves into canoe number two. Slowly, we got into the canoe and made sure we were all properly balanced before we paddled off. The trip over was a little unnerving once we realized that the second canoe appeared to be just as tippy as the first. I was already nervous about the paddle back to shore later in the day.
We made it to the island with no further problem. We unloaded everything to see exactly what got ruined by the water. I wasn’t looking forward to this part. I was mostly concerned about our camera and my cell phone. Stupid me, I hadn’t placed them in a waterproof container. Guess what’s on my shopping list for my next visit to Canadian Tire? Lots of waterproof containers!
Our Nikon camera? It survived…thanks to being protected by my brand new Heys Mini Case. I had just won this case in a blog giveaway from @Stardchiu. While my Heys Mini Case is not waterproof, it is so well-made with a hard plastic shell and quality zipper, that just a few drops of water made it inside. We were so relieved our camera was ok! Thank you David Chiu and Heys!!
My Telus HTC cell phone? I dug it out of the knapsack only to find it soaked in water and condensation covering the screen. It wouldn’t power up. I thought that was it for my phone. I’ve had my Telus phone for over 3 years now, and it has been well-used. I was pretty much ready to accept I had just ruined my old phone when my boyfriend suggested I take off the protective cover, open up the back of the phone, take out the battery and the SIM card, and leave it all out to dry in the sun. So I did. Within an hour of sitting out to dry, I put my Telus phone back together…and it powered up!! Now, 24 hours later, you wouldn’t even know my phone had been submerged in water. So happy with my Telus phone for coming back to life!
We weren’t too concerned about our food and drink coolers but…..even our Maple Leaf Foods cooler survived well. It had been completely submerged in the water when we tipped the canoe (thanks to it’s weight – it was full of food). I opened up our cooler to find just a very small pool of water at the bottom of the cooler. Nothing got ruined. Impressive! Love my Maple Leaf Foods cooler!
We hung our wet clothing and towels up to dry, and settled down for a relaxing afternoon on the island. That was until Bella accidentally discovered a yellow jacket nest on the edge of the rocks and got stung twice! We were starting to think it might have been better if we had just stayed home that day, lol.
When safely back on shore later that afternoon, I started to think about how lucky we were that the canoe had capsized so close to shore, and not halfway over to the island. I learned how quickly a boating accident can occur. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened to us in deeper water. Although we were smart and had our life jackets aboard, there are other things we could have done better (like slipping on our life jackets BEFORE we get into the canoe). Next time I would absolutely make sure to have anything of value packed away in floatable waterproof containers. I would also bring lightweight, quick-drying towels. We brought our thick Costco beach towels that, once soaked in water, weighed about 10 lbs. Way too heavy to have to be hauling on a canoe and back through the forest. I would also bring my small first aid kit again. I was glad I had it to clean up the deep scratches I got from falling into the water amongst broken branches.
Thinking of doing some summer boating/canoeing with your family? Be sure to do what I didn’t do and read up on boating safety. I found these great canoeing safety tips from MEC, safe boating tips from The Safe Boater, and the Government of Canada Safe Boating Guide. All worth a read BEFORE you head out on the water!!
Disclosure: Canadian Blog House was not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.