A magnetic compass will assist the operator of a pleasure craft to determine a direction and hold a course.
A magnetic compass can be influenced by the close proximity of metal and electrical devices and wires, and could provide false information.
When onboard a craft, avoid placing metal objects close to the compass. Be cautious with clothing which may contain metal parts. It is best to keep all objects clear of the compass.
You should be aware that a magnetic compass points to the "magnetic" north pole, which is different from the "true" north pole. Maps and charts are based on "true" north. The difference in degrees from the true north pole varies as you move to different locations in the world. (This is know as magnetic variation.)
If you undertake further study, you will learn how to compute a "true" direction from a "magnetic" direction and vice-versa. Many modern GPS navigation receivers will do this computation for you automatically.
Almost every boat is the required to carry a watertight flashlight. In the event of an electrical failure the watertight flashlight may be your only means of signalling for help.
A watertight flashlight qualifies as navigation lights on non-powered vessels less than 7 metres.
Check that the batteries are at a proper charge level and have a spare set of batteries at hand.
Sound-signalling Devices and Appliances
To comply with the Collision Regulations, sound-signalling devices are required for all vessels under
A vessel 12 m and over requires a whistle under the Collision Regulations while a vessel 20 m and over requires a bell in addition to a whistle. The bell and whistle must meet the technical criteria described in the Collision Regulations for frequency and audible range.
Sound signalling equipment is used to communicate maneuvering, to alert others of your presence in areas of restricted visibility and to draw attention in emergencies.
See the sound signalling chart for details on signals.
Radar reflectors are required under the Collision Regulations. Radar reflectors are a valuable piece of safety equipment because, properly positioned, they help larger, less manoeuvrable vessels detect your presence on their radar screens. A radar reflector is required for vessels less than 20 metres in length and for all non-metal vessels. Locate reflectors as high as possible above all superstructures and at least 4 m above the water (if practical).
You are not required to carry a radar reflector in limited traffic conditions, daylight, and favourable environmental conditions and where compliance is not essential for the safety of the vessel, or the small size of the vessel or its operation away from radar navigation makes compliance impracticable.
Nautical Charts and Topographic Maps
Charts and various publications such as Notices to Mariners, Sailing Directions, and the List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals, are required under the Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations . Small craft charts are not regularly updated. Please consult Notices to Mariners, published by the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, for chart updates and corrections or the Current Edition Listing on the Canadian Hydrographic Web site.
Charts (Paper and Electronic)
Charts are graphic representations depicting water areas, including depths, underwater hazards, traffic routes, aids to navigation and adjacent coastal areas.
Charts are intended primarily for the use of mariners to assist with navigation.
In Canada, charts are published by the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
For U.S. waters, charts are published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Topographical maps are maps of land areas depicting natural and artificial features of the land, including elevation contours, shoreline, rocks, land features above water, and cultural features.
They are intended primarily for the use of the general public on land.
In Canada, topographical maps are published by Natural Resources of Canada and some provincial authorities.
Topographical maps are sometimes used where there are no "Charts" available, but they do not depict:
Navigation lights are required under the Collision Regulations if a vessel operates at night (sunset to sunrise) or in restricted visibility such as fog. If the vessel has navigation lights, they must work and be fitted in accordance with the Collision Regulations. Navigation lights must be visible at appropriate distances based on the length of the vessel. Refer to Rule 22 in the Collsion Regulations for details.
Recognition of the various light types and their various configurations allows an operator to determine the vessel type at night and take the appropriate right-of-way action.
For example, if you are a power boat and you see a green sidelight and a single white light on your port side it means that you have right-of-way, while the other vessel will see your red port sidelight and white all-round light (or masthead light) on it's starboard side and must give-way.
Lights and Shapes
Be aware of the following items in Collision Regulations.
Review of Lights above.
An understanding of the various light configurations below allows an operator to determine the vessel type at night and take the appropriate right-of-way action.
The operator of a pleasure craft under oars (rowboat) may exhibit sidelights and a sternlight from sunset to sunrise. Alternately, the operator should have ready at hand an electric torch, flashlight, or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision.
Blue Flashing Light
Any authorized vessel that is engaged in law enforcement duties or providing assistance to a vessel in distress may exhibit as an identification signal a blue flashing light. This includes various police and Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels.
Towing, Towing Light
In the case of a power-driven vessel towing another vessel from her stern, the towing vessel must exhibit:
In the case of a vessel being towed, it must exhibit:
Tugs may be towing barges or other ships on a long tow-line astern. Often, the length of the tow is so great that the tow-line hangs below the surface of the water and is virtually invisible. If a small vessel strikes the submerged tow-line it could capsize and then be run down by the barge. Never pass between a tug and its tow and make sure you are aware of the special lights displayed by tugs towing barges or other vessels or objects.
When a vessel not normally engaged in towing operations is towing another vessel in distress or need of assistance, the towing lights described above are not required to be displayed. All possible measures should be taken to indicate the nature of the relationship between the towing vessel and the vessel being towed, in particular by illuminating the towline.
Pushing, Special Flashing Light
A vessel being pushed in the waters of the Great Lakes Basin shall exhibit a special flashing (yellow) light at the forward end of the vessel in addition to sidelights.
A vessel when engaged in trawling, (which means the dragging through the water of a dredge net or other apparatus used as a fishing appliance), will exhibit:
A vessel engaged in fishing, other than trawling, will exhibit: