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Office of Boating Safety on the road

The Office of Boating Safety (OBS) works hard to get its boating safety message out to the public. Recently, it added a new twist.

Of course, OBS staff undertakes advertising and carries out presentations and demonstrations, but with all the setting up and tearing down of displays and moving on to the next boat show, we sometimes wonder whether our message is getting out as well as it can. At all these shows and at all our events—winter through summer—thousands of people see our vehicles, either as part of a display or sitting in a parking lot, or even just heading down the road.

Safe boating equipment and information

One of six display trailers used by the Office of Boating Safety staff.

This is especially true from May through August when the Central and Arctic Region's Walk the Dock program summer students drive van and trailer units throughout Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The CCG Auxiliary also has four display trucks that are used year round in Ontario and Manitoba.

The Walk the Dock program was developed to increase awareness of boating safety in Central and Arctic Region. The program employs six students from May until Labour Day in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Pukta, the Office of Boating Safety mascot

The students are hired under the Federal Student Work Experience Program and travel throughout the region delivering CCG's safe boating message to the public. The students visit marinas, yacht clubs, boating organizations, schools, camps and parks to do Pleasure Craft Courtesy Checks, distribute boating safety material, give boating safety presentations and demonstrate boating safety equipment.

We decided to utilize the space on these vehicles. While adhering to Federal Identity Program requirements, of course, we added our key message. Pukta, our polar bear mascot, is displayed on the sides of the vans and the backs of the trailers and display trucks with the caption "Take a boating safety course. Get your card." As well, the 1-800 Boating Safety Info Line and the Web site address are brightly indicated. All in all, these do not look like your usual government vehicles, and reaction has been great!

Pukta, the Office of Boating Safety mascot, features prominently on the outside of CCG vans and trailers in Central and Arctic Region.

In fact, this spring OBS's Mike Taber was driving one of the vans from Toronto to Sarnia when a car pulled into the passing lane and honked its horn. Mike looked over, a little irritated, and received a pleasant surprise. Sitting in the front and back seats were a boy and girl, one about 12 and the other about 14. Each held their wallets to the window displaying their operator competency cards! Mike gave them a big smile and a thumbs-up. Their "responsible boating parents" gave another short honk on the horn and the car soon disappeared in the traffic. Since then, OBS employees have reported numerous such incidents.

People are attracted to the trailers at trade shows and outdoor events. The key is: they come to us—then we can hit them with our pitch. And, once we're finished for the day, we simply close the doors, hitch up to our vehicle and it's on to the next show. Simplicity!

Boating Safety course information

The federal government created the Office of Boating Safety (OBS) in April 1995, with locations across Canada. As part of the Canadian Coast Guard, the Office of Boating Safety is responsible for the regulatory, enforcement and technical services that apply to recreational vessels. The Office of Boating Safety actively promotes boating safety through its prevention program and is also responsible for setting national standards for operator competence, education and training.

The Office of Boating Safety does not work alone—its partners include the Recreational Boating Advisory Councils, the Canadian Marine Advisory Councils, the Canadian Safe Boating Council, the many boater associations, training groups, marine retailers and manufacturers, enforcement agencies, and the United States Coast Guard.

Peter Garapick is Supervisor of the Canadian Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety—Central Region, located in Sarnia, Ontario.

To obtain information on the boating safety regulations or for general boating safety information, contact your closest regional Canadian Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety or the Office of Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687.

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