Unlike our eastern counterparts, where sub-zero is more than just a fancy kitchen appliance and partially frozen waterways littered with icebergs keep people from dinghy sailing/paddling/rowing, English bay, our biggest playground, is accessible year-round.
It‘s important to remember at this time of year to place an extra emphasis on boat safety for yourself and your crew. Jericho Rescue and other boaters are notably scarce at this time of the year so you must take extra care to ensure a safe on water session. It starts with a check of the weather forecast and tidal activity.
Let a friend or family member know you are going, where you are going and when you expect to be back on shore (follow-up with an après sailing phone call).
Do a meticulous pre-launch check of your craft and equipment. Recognize when conditions are beyond your ability and choose not to launch. Make sure you are properly dressed-wetsuit/drysuit/hat/booties/gloves-including your PFD. Double check your safety equipment-paddles, bailer, whistle, flares. Know when the sun is setting and understand that the wind often shuts off abruptly in the hour before sunset.
Don’t go farther from shore than you care to paddle back if you or your equipment should fail or the wind shuts off.
One final tip: enclose your fully charged cell phone in two sealed sandwich bags and keep on your person. In the event of a sea disaster you can’t solve yourself, dialing *16 will put you in touch with the Canadian Coast Guard’s Rescue Coordination Centre.