Trans Mountain’s Westridge Marine Terminal is located on Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, BC. As part of the marine community on the Salish Sea, Trans Mountain actively supports the Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA) and Transport Canada’s work to raise awareness about boating safety in the vicinity of large deep-sea ships.

To help spread knowledge about safe boating in shared waterways during National Safe Boating Week (May 21–27), we’ve put together a short quiz on safe boating practices. By taking a few minutes to test your knowledge, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a Fish Safe boating safety kit and Yeti Tundra 45 cooler for a total prize value of $850.

Please read and review the terms and conditions before entering.

British Columbia’s southern coastal waters, including Burrard Inlet and the Strait of Georgia, are popular destinations for recreational boaters, including everything from pleasure crafts and sailboats to kayaks and tinnies. These waterways are also the primary travel route for deep-sea ships calling on the Port of Vancouver. Container ships, tankers, bulk carriers, barges and other commercial vessels regularly travel to and from Vancouver through the Salish Sea, which is within the traditional territories of the Coast Salish and Nu Chah Nulth peoples. On a typical day, a recreational boater may encounter a deep-sea ship as both share a common waterway.

Deep-sea ships are subject to many international, national and port authority requirements and must operate under certain restrictions to ensure the safety of all marine waterway users. These vessels navigate in designated marine vessel traffic lanes in well-established patterns of movement. Due to their size and momentum, however, they cannot easily change direction to avoid objects in their direct path. Deep-sea ships have no brakes, so they can take up to two nautical miles to come to a complete stop.

The course and speed of a deep-sea ship are piloted from the bridge—a control centre typically located at the rear (stern) of the vessel on the top level. The yellow area highlighted above represents the blind spot from the bridge, which can extend several hundred metres ahead of the vessel. Officers can see far in the distance, but have limited visibility near the front of the ship (the bow). Small boat operators should take this into account and understand the risk of harm to any small vessel in the path of a deep-sea ship.

Quick Tip: As a recreational boat operator, an easy way to know if a deep-sea ship can see you is if you can see the windows of the bridge.

Recreational boaters have safe navigation responsibilities when travelling near large vessels. Prudent seamanship requires small boat operators to follow the requirements of the Collision Regulations and avoid crossing a waterway ahead of an underway ship. The Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA) and Transport Canada recommend that small boat operators wait for the vessel to pass and cross to the back of it (astern). If required to cross in front of an underway ship, exercise caution and remain 500 metres or more ahead of the vessel. It can be difficult to judge the distance of an approaching ship close to the water’s surface.

As boating season begins, here are important reminders to help prioritize safety on the water.

When in a shipping lane or a designated traffic separation scheme, be aware of large ships; cross shipping lanes at a 90-degree angle and keep clear of large ships.

If fishing is allowed in a shipping lane or designated traffic separation scheme, keep as near to the outer edge as possible and leave the centre of the channel open for large ship traffic.

Make sure the required additional lights are displayed.

Make a lookout by sight and sound. Sounding five shorts and rapid blasts in a warning signal.

Keep a listening watch on the appropriate VHF channel and set your AIS (Automatic Identification System - if fitted) for information on other ship movements in the area.

Consider fitting your small craft with AIS or a radar reflector to be visible to large vessels.