While recently boating throughout the many lakes and wonderful lock system of the Kawarthas, I was reminded of how critical it is to not just know how to appropriately operate your boat and its safety gear, but also how to navigate your boat appropriately through a lock system. (For those that may not be familiar, a lock is a device used for raising and lowering boats between bodies of water with different water levels).


Upon entering Lock 34 at Fenelon Falls, coming from Sturgeon Lake into Cameron Lake, everything appeared normal. There were six boats which had entered into the lock, including our own, with three on each side. The Fenelon Falls lock is one of the deepest locks, with approximately 24 feet between the lower level water of Sturgeon and the upper level water of Cameron Lake. Needless to say, at that depth, the Lock staff are not able to physically assist if something goes wrong – making it especially critical that boaters entering into this particular lock understand the right steps to take.

As the doors closed behind us and the water level started to rise, sun beating down and everyone chatting away, it suddenly became apparent that one of our fellow boaters was in serious trouble…

Cries of alarm abruptly cut threw the chatter, and everyone turned to see a boat at a 45 degree angle, quickly taking on water, with its four occupants desperately trying to right their boat, no life jackets to be seen. Within seconds, it became apparent that the boat was going under and so everyone yelled at the occupants to jump, while throwing them life jackets. One of the occupants nearly got trapped under the boat as it flipped over and completely went under.

Luckily, all four occupants knew how to swim and were able to get on board the boat next to them – or else this story may have had a much different ending.

This entire event happened within less than a minute. Lives risked and a boat destroyed all due to one simple misstep – the boaters tied their lines to the drop cables (essentially ‘locking’ their boat in place at that level of water), instead of wrapping the lines loosely around to allow the boat to move up or down freely. This meant that as the water level in the lock rose, the tied line stayed in place and started to pull their boat down, until it eventually went under.

This was not the best day for these folks for sure – but two important lessons can be learned from their unfortunate experience:

1. Always wear a life jacket or have one readily accessible when entering a lock.



If you run into a situation where your boat starts taking on water, there will be no time to find and put on your life jacket, so it’s important you and each passenger either has one on already or has one close-at-hand (i.e., not locked up somewhere in your boat).

2. Never tie your vessel lines to the drop cables.

Use the vertical drop cables on the walls to wrap your mooring lines LOOSELY around the cables to secure your bow and stern. Do not leave your mooring lines unattended at any point – make sure someone is manning them at both the bow and stern of the boat at all times.


Remember: when in the locks, keep it unlocked (both life jackets and lines).


Check out some more tips from Boatsmart on how to correctly navigate a lock and keep yourself and your passengers safe!

Posted By
July 12, 2018

#Categories: FAQ Canada

Boating in Virginia promises a day of fun and excitement as you anticipate the adventure that’s to come. The open water is a perfect place to reconnect with nature and your surroundings while making memories with family and friends. Virginia is home to some of the most beautiful boating spots around, with numerous public launch spots, marinas and scenic backdrops, this state should be at the top of your boating destination list.


Smith Mountain Lake

This lake lies in a broad valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southcentral Virginia less than 40 miles outside Roanoke. This is a manmade body of water created after a dam was built in 1963. There are plenty of public boat launches to choose from which provide you access. This lake is a draw for anglers as it has abundant bass in its waters which in turn bring large fishing tournaments to the region. The Bridgewater Marina is a perfect place to dock your boat, stretch your legs and take a look around. There is a full-service gas dock, marina store with basic groceries, ski and wakeboard Proshop, boating and skiing apparel as well as covered boat storage. Check out The Landing Restaurant for exceptional cuisine and beautiful lake views in Bernards Landing Resort, minutes from Westlake.


Lake Gaston

Ranging 35 miles in length, with 350 miles of shoreline, with large amounts of open waterways, this is an ideal lake for all water sports. Boaters can access the lake by way of Holly Grove Marina which also offers a convenience store, gas docks, a deli that serves breakfast and sandwiches, a fully-stocked tackle shop and boat launch. The easiest way to access the lake is from the main lake or HWY 903. This lake is on the boarder of Virginia and North Carolina counties of Halifax, Northhampton and Warren.


Kerr Lake/Buggs Island Lake

This is the largest reservoir in the state, with more than 50,000 acres of water and 800 miles of shoreline, found just west of Lake Gaston near Buffalo Springs. Known as Bugg Island Lake to the locals, it attracts many recreational boaters, and avid water sport enthusiasts as it has ample wide-open space. There are plenty of quiet coves to drop an anchor, relax and enjoy the scenery. This lake was ranked as number one for Crappie fishing in the United States by Fisherman Magazine and as such, hosts many state and national fishing tournaments. There are public access points to the lake from Occoneechee State Park and Staunton River State Park offering biking and hiking trails if you need to stretch your legs. Check out the Clarksville Bridge at night which becomes illuminated by glowing lights that reflect off the water’s surface.


Lake Anna

This is Virginia’s third largest lake which spans 13,000 acres with over 200 miles of shoreline. This is known as one of the best lakes for largemouth bass on the East Coast making it a popular spot for year-round fishing. Lake Anna is one of the most popular freshwater destinations for water sports and boat enthusiasts with plenty of boat launches and marinas as well as the pristine Lake Anna State Park beach. This is a fun day trip to spend out on the boat, but if you’re thinking more along the lines of extending your trip, there are plenty of on-land activities that the surrounding area offers.


Philpott Lake

This lake offers almost 3,000 acres of open water, nine boat launches, eight campgrounds and six beaches, which makes it an ideal spot for a boating get-away. This lake generates hydroelectric power to the area and was created by the damming of the Smith River. The lake is situated in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with an elevation of 300 metres. Philpott is known for its Large and Small Mouth Bass, Walleye, Bluegill and Crappie population. Making it an ideal fishing spot with a scenic backdrop of the mountains.


You can’t go wrong with these top boating destinations in Virginia. There is plenty of open water to explore and sights to see including mountains, beaches and wildlife making Virginia a popular boating destination and one of the best in the east coast. Something to be aware of is that with the boating popularity comes high traffic volumes and crowded waterways making watercraft accidents more common. It’s always important to be well versed in the rules of boating; even if you already took your test, it doesn’t hurt to brush-up on the rules of the water. You can do this by visiting the Knowledge Base at BOATsmart! to keep you boating with confidence.

Posted By
June 25, 2018

#Categories: FAQ Virginia, Lifestyle - USA

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, time is ticking for those last-minute gifts. No need to jump off the deep end though because we’ve come up with some epic Mother’s Day ideas just for you (and your mom). The best part is, they’re all about the experience, since after all, you can’t put a price on memories.

Gift her a boating license
There’s a new wave of boaters ready to set sail – women! It’s time women took the captain’s seat and started making their own boating memories. By giving the gift of a boating license, mom can feel cool and comfortable on the water in any scenario. The BOATsmart! course is full of safety instructions and educational modules to help mom boat with confidence. Boating is a relaxing experience; a place to let the problems of the day trickle into the wake behind you. It’s a place for mom to share stories and make family memories with her crew. We all know mom’s already the intrepid captain, this license just makes it official on the water.

Take a coastal drive
Driving down the coast is a mesmerizing experience. The smell of fresh air, the flecks of sunlight that dance along the top of the water and the lingering anticipation of catching a glimpse of rare wildlife are all elements that make this outing an ideal trip with mom for Mother’s Day. Good conversation and junk food are key to this mini road-trip making it one she’ll never forget. Each road lends an opportunity to take in new scenery and create your own adventure, so be sure to charge your camera and make room on your phone to capture whatever may be in store. There are typically look-out points along any coastal route, so if you happen to spot one, take full advantage of that photo-opp. Stop off at a local seafood restaurant that will be serving up the fresh catch of the day and bask in the patio sun while enjoying a frothy beverage before heading back.

Try water Yoga
New yoga trends that involve water have been popping up recently. One of those popular trends is yoga on stand-up paddle boards. This new practice will get you feeling more connected to the outdoors and help make your movements more meticulous and calculated from fear of falling over and embarrassing yourself in front of the entire class. There are also places that offer aqua yoga where you perform your practice submerged in water. It’s easier on joints but much more challenging when it comes to balance and movement.  You’ll leave feeling more calm and relaxed than ever. This new take on a traditional practice is a perfect way to create and share new experiences with your mom for Mother’s Day and who knows, you might even get hooked!

Go fishing together
Give mom the gift of bragging rights at the next family gathering by taking her fishing. Don’t have a boat? Get creative with it and find a cool rock or dock to fish off of; it’s all part of the experience. Fishing has been a long-standing tradition in many families, and although sometimes masked behind the technical jargon and the right to gloat from the triumphant catch-of-the-day, what it really comes down to is the quality time spent with loved ones.  Whether it be at the end of a dock or on the water, making unforgettable memories with your mom and connecting to the outdoors is something you can’t put a price on.

Go on a canoe ride
Take in the serenity and magnificence of the outdoors while paddling your way into mom’s good books. A canoe ride is one of the most peaceful activities you can do on water; with the methodical stroke of the paddle and the connection you feel to the river, lake or sea. You don’t need to go too far to find a spot to launch your canoe for an afternoon paddle as many local resorts offer water sports and will allow you to use their facilities. You can rent a canoe and flow down a lazy river or day-trip-it on a winding creek. Up your game by finding a spot where the sun hits just right and enjoy a lunch by the shore. You might just become moms new favourite – you’re welcome.

With the busy lives we lead from day-to-day, it’s now more important than ever to get outdoors and connect with nature. The mental and physical benefits of being outdoors can create massive positive effects on your overall well-being. It helps you to disconnect from your hectic life and become refreshed and rejuvenated – it’s like our reset button! This Mother’s Day, you can help mom enjoy these natural stress-relievers and give her an unforgettable, unique gift that you can appreciate together.

Posted By
May 10, 2018

#Categories: Boating License, Lifestyle