Monday, February 15, 2010

On mandatory safety equipment for boats...

I have just got off a rather lengthy call with some moron from the West Coast. It sems this lad went out and got ticketed by the RCMP out there, for wearing a Mustang floater jacket which had been approved by the USCG (obviously bought in the States), but not by our lads up here in Canukistan.

So idiot-child here begins the conversation by lying to me. He tells me that he was ticketed for wearing an American-approved Mustang floater jacket. He's asking me if I know what that is, if I'm familiar with the Mustang products. (I was wearing Mustang jackets on the upper decks, in the North Atlantic, when he was still sperm...). I didn't mention my years of military service, but I did admit that I was familiar with their jackets.

I told him out of hand that I had a very hard time believing that he was ticketed for wearing a US-approved floater jacket. I then explained the Small Vessel Regulations to him, particularily the part where it mentions lifesaving equipment, such as lifejackets and PFDs. I advised him that nowhere in any regulation, did it state or even imply, that an individual could be charged and/or fined for wearing an American piece of lifesaving equipment. "Well you'd better advise the police out here about that then", says he. "Apparently they don't know the regulations...".

I then informed him that the regulations DID state however, that if he DIDN'T HAVE a Canadian-approved lifejacket or PFD for every person on his vessel, that he WOULD be liable to a fine. "So, what I am telling you, Sir... is that contrary to what you have been trying to make me believe, if you were in fact charged, it was NOT because you were wearing an American floater jacket... It was because you DIDN'T HAVE a Canadian-approved lifejacket onboard your boat!"

"There is a world of difference between these two statements", I advised him. Then he starts on with this whining lament that it's all the same thing. "Six of one, a half-dozen of another", I believe he said. That Mustang sells this very same jacket here in Canada... that there is only one number's difference in the stock number of the jacket... that this jacket that is legal in the US should be legal here in Canada as well.

I asked him: "And does this Mustang floater jacket of yours have the tag which states that it has been approved for use here in Canada, by either Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada...?"

"Well... no. But it's the same jacket!!!"

"That is not what I asked you, Sir", I countered.

"And are you aware, word for word, of what the regulation from the Small Vessel Regulations (Canada Shipping Act) states?", I queried. 

Not waiting for him to respond, I continued: "That every vessel is required to carry one personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size, for each person on board.

These items must meet the standards as set out in Schedule III.

Schedule III of the Small Vessel Regulations.



1. The standards for a small vessel lifejacket are those set out in Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-65.7-M88, Lifejackets, Inherently Buoyant Type.

1.1 The standards for a SOLAS type lifejacket and a standard lifejacket are the applicable standards that are set out in the table to section 121 of the Life Saving Equipment Regulations.

Personal Flotation Devices.

1.3 (1) Subject to subsection (2), the standards for a personal flotation device are those set out in

(a) Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88, Personal Flotation Devices; or

(b) Underwriters Laboratories standard UL 1180, Fully Inflatable Recreational Personal Flotation Devices, with the Canadian addendum.

(2) The standards for a personal flotation device intended for use by children are those set out in Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-65.15-M88, Personal Flotation Devices for Children."

"So... You Sir, are in fact NOT looking for information on the rules and regulations which pertain to boating in Canadian waters", I paraphrased. "Rather you are looking for me to agree with you in declaring that these long-standing rules and regulations are nonsensical, simply based on the fact that you chose not to acknowledge or abide by the letter of the law, which I must point out, is absolutely crystal clear.

" "Yes I know that", he says... "But you must see my point, don't you?", he pleaded.

"Absolutely not", I replied.

Once more, he launched into a tirade about how if a plane was found safe to operate by the FAA, that we here in Canada would 'rubber-stamp' it as safe also. He put forth the same argument regarding automobiles, throwing another bunch of thoroughly unimpressive acronyms at me. Clearly a case of: "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit". "Aaaahh..." I mused to myself, "we have another idiot-savant here... but without the 'savant' part." Clearly this lad was unaware that such was not always the case with vehicles. Otherwise, we would not have the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

We ARE our own country up here, you know.

"Sir, you're bringing up topics which are not germaine to our conversation", I said to bring him back on track. He was grasping at straws now, as he had been from the beginning.

Again I had to advise him, to my great delight, that there was to be no 'rubber stamp' for him. That his skewed West Coast, 'we-are-Americans-too' perception of how life was, did not necessarily make it so.

I even provided him with that very section of Transport Canada (Safety Equipment) that actually sets the standards for and approves life saving equipment which is required aboard commercial vessels and pleasure craft, so that they being the final authority, could basically repeat everything I had just told him.

Yes... his beef was actually with the folks at Mustang. They are the ones who decide which tag to sew into their products. Those which are destined for the US market, get the 'USCG approved' label. Those which are meant to be sold here in Canada? Well, they get the TC/CCG/DFO label.

Like I told him before we parted company, you don't have to WEAR your Canadian-approved lifejacket aboard your boat... but you'd better have one there. It's zero tolerance and $200.00 per infraction. And ignorance of the law (or just plain ignorance...), is no excuse. No matter what you happen to think...

You have fun paying that fine, now...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No mercy.