Graphic promoting the Waterway Etiquette article. It shows multiple boats out on the water surrounded by vibrant green trees on shore. On the left hand side is orange design slant element with writing saying "Let's all have a safe summer on the water. Mind Your Speed! Watch Your Wake! Respect all Users!"

Waterway Etiquette: Tips for Using Waterways Safely and Respectfully

As the popularity of Lac du Bonnet waterways continues to grow each year, it becomes increasingly important for all waterway users to navigate them safely and respectfully with waterway etiquette. To promote a safe and pleasant experience for everyone involved, the Rural Municipality of Lac du Bonnet formed a VORR Committee in 2020 to analyze waterway use along the Pinawa Channel and Lee River. Their findings have provided valuable information that can assist recreational users in sharing the waterways considerately.

It’s crucial to remember that Transportation Canada regulates our waterways. These navigable waterways require equitable access for all users and activities in accordance with federal law. By prioritizing the act of sharing our waterways, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

1. Respect Personal Space

Always be mindful of the distance between your vessel and others around you. Crowding other vessels on the waterways can make people feel unsafe. Just as tailgating on the roadway is unpleasant, the same applies to waterways. Maintain an appropriate distance so everyone can feel safe.

2. Mindful Speed

Be aware of your speed while navigating the waterways. Remember that you may need to stop or maneuver suddenly to avoid a collision, so operating at a safe speed is essential. Keep in mind that it is illegal to operate near shorelines at speeds exceeding 10 km/h within 30 meters (100 feet) of the shore. Since swimmers and paddlers often frequent the shoreline, this gives them ample space to enjoy their activities safely.

3. Towing Activities

When encountering vessels engaged in towing activities, be sure to leave plenty of space. If someone being towed on tubes, skis, or wakeboards falls into the water, maintaining a safe distance prevents accidents such as running them over. Exercise caution and provide enough room for these activities to unfold safely.

4. Consistent Driving Behaviour

Avoid erratic driving behaviour while on the waterways. Just as you stay in your lane while driving on the road, it is crucial to pick a lane and stick with it on the waterways. Consistency in your navigation contributes to a smooth and organized flow of traffic.

5. Watersport Activities

If you plan to participate in watersport activities such as skiing, surfing, or wakeboarding, it is advisable to head to the wider sections of the Lee River, particularly north of the ‘Rock Pile’ or Lac du Bonnet Lake. By doing so, you can ensure that these thrilling activities do not interfere with other vessels or endanger individuals in narrower parts of the Lee River or Pinawa Channel.

6. Avoid Unsafe Maneuvers

Never attempt to spray swimmers or cut in front of or jump the wake of other vessels. Many boating incidents occur due to misjudging speed or distance. Exercise caution and refrain from engaging in maneuvers that could put yourself and others at risk.

7. Mind Your Wake

Be mindful of the wake created by your vessel. Wakes have the potential to cause damage to other vessels, docks, and the shoreline. Additionally, it can pose a risk to swimmers, divers, and individuals on small boats that may capsize easily. When determining your speed, consider how your vessel’s wake might impact others. Remember, you are responsible for any damages or harm caused by your wake.

8. Considerate Volume

Keep your music volume low, especially in the evenings and at night. Sound travels further on the water, and playing music too loudly can be a nuisance for those seeking a peaceful environment or trying to get some sleep. Be considerate of others and keep noise levels at a reasonable volume.

9. Be Aware of Right of Way

Familiarize yourself with the rules of right-of-way on the water. Understand who has priority when it comes to navigating around other vessels, especially in situations such as crossing paths, overtaking, or approaching intersections. Respecting right-of-way rules helps prevent confusion and potential collisions.

10. Use Proper Lighting

Ensure your boat has proper lighting, especially during low visibility conditions or at night. Proper navigation lights help other boaters identify your vessel’s size, direction, and status. This allows for better communication and reduces the risk of accidents.

11. Communicate with Signals

Utilize appropriate hand signals and sound signals to communicate your intentions on the water. Clear and consistent communication between boaters helps everyone understand each other’s actions and prevents misunderstandings.

12. Mind Your Anchoring

When anchoring your boat, choose an appropriate location that does not obstruct navigation or pose a hazard to other vessels. Consider the depth, current, and potential swing radius of your boat.

13. Keep Moving During Water Sports Activities

When engaging in water sports activities such as skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing, avoid staying fixed in one location for an extended period. After each exhilarating run or session, gracefully move to a new location, allowing ample space for others to navigate freely. This ensures that traffic flows easily and provides an unrestricted experience for all on the waterways.

By adopting these waterway etiquette tips and practicing consideration for fellow waterway users, we can create a safer and more enjoyable experience for all on the Lac du Bonnet waterways. Let’s make this summer a memorable one by being respectful and responsible.

Additional Resources for Waterway Etiquette & Safety

Here are some helpful links that provide more information on respectful waterway use and boating etiquette:

Safe Boating – Boating Etiquette: The Safe Boating Campaign provides a comprehensive guide to boating etiquette, emphasizing safety and courtesy on the water. It covers topics such as maintaining a proper lookout, understanding right-of-way, and respecting wildlife and the environment. Learn more here

National Safe Boating Council: The National Safe Boating Council offers resources and tips for safe and responsible boating, including information on waterway etiquette. Their website provides educational materials, safety campaigns, and boating courses to promote safe and responsible boating. Learn more here

Canadian Safe Boating Council: The Canadian Safe Boating Council offers resources and information on boating safety and etiquette in Canada. Their website provides tips on sharing waterways, responsible boating practices, and awareness campaigns to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience for all. Learn more here

Disclaimer: The information provided in our articles about waterway safety in Lac du Bonnet is for general informational purposes only. While we strive for accuracy, it may not be up-to-date or applicable to every situation. Consult official sources and local authorities for the most current and accurate information. Our articles do not substitute professional advice, and readers should exercise their own judgment and consider their specific circumstances. We are not liable for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information provided. Follow applicable laws, regulations, and safety guidelines and seek professional advice when needed. Waterway activities carry inherent risks, and individuals are responsible for their own safety. The content may change without notice. Consult local authorities for specific concerns or questions regarding waterway safety in Manitoba.

Protect Manitoba's Waters

AIS, or Aquatic Invasive Species, pose a significant threat to our water bodies, affecting both the environment and recreational activities. It is crucial that we all play our part in preventing their spread.

Whether you’re a casual boater or a commercial operator, the legislation applies to everyone who enjoys the province’s waterways. These regulations focus on the movement of AIS through various means such as watercraft, aircraft, vehicles, equipment, and bait use. Prior to entering or leaving a water body, individuals and operators are required to take specific measures to ensure AIS does not transfer from one location to another.

To learn more about these important regulations, including cleaning requirements and legislation, please visit the Legislation, Regulations, and Set Fines section on the Government of Manitoba website. Additionally, you can find valuable information about AIS in the Manitoba Angler’s Guide, helping us all stay informed and safeguard our beloved water resources. Read more here

About the Safe Boating Ambassador Program

The Safe Boating Ambassador program is a community-driven initiative designed to increase boating safety and etiquette awareness in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba specific to the Lee River and Pinawa Channel. Working together, we will contribute to the education of safe waterway use by promoting:

1. Waterway safety, as governed by Transport Canada, and
2. General good boating etiquette for specific activities, focusing on those that occur on our waterways.

The Safe Boating Ambassadors are members of the boating community, avid paddlers, stand-up paddleboarders, wake surfers, water skiers, and boaters. The members will act as Waterway Safety Leaders for the community of Lac du Bonnet, sharing and encouraging all waterway users to safely partake in all waterway activities.

This season, let’s all remember that waterway safety is in our hands. Let’s all do our part.

Volunteer to be a Safe Boating Ambassador

This season, let's all remember that waterway safety is in our hands. Let's all do our part, share this information with your friends!