Transport Canada legislates lifejacket/Personal Floatation Device (PFD) use for windsurfers in Canada via it's Small Vessel Regulations. It IS the law, punishable by $255 in fines if caught without a PFD... and this has happened before, in a number of places in Canada. The marine police units know the laws and are enforcing them.
We've debated this with Transport Canada for eons. Once again, the SVR is up for review and this is yet another opportunity to let TC know what we think about mandatory PFD use.
- current Small Vessel Regulations
- Safe Boating Guide
- proposed Small Vessel Regulations
Included in these regulations of course, are the following usual general provisions (summarized) for windsurfers:
- Clause 204(1): Sailboards need to carry PFDs, life saving appliances, vessel safety equipment and fire protection equipment.
- Clause 204(2): Sailboarders cannot use auto-inflating lifejackets.
- Clause 219: As long as sailboarders are WEARING their PFD, as opposed to just strapping it around the mast or boom, sailboards are exempt from the silly unreasonable stuff - life saving appliances (15m of bouyannt rope, flashlight and flares), vessel safety equipment (a paddle or anchor) and fire protection equipment (fire extinguisher).
During 2003, Windsurfing Canada (WC) took a fairly aggressive approach to dealing with the previous revisions and made considerable effort to have sailboards essentially de-legislated, with the primary intent to allow choice for boardsailors with respect to PFD use. At one point in time, we were even successful, a subsequent draft of the SVR had sailboards essentially removed from the regulations. However, near the last minute (2005), upon recommendations from the Ontario Recreational Boating Advisory Council (ORBAC), legislation was returned to its former glory and the result: continued legislated PFD use.
2003 Windsurfing Canada report on PFD's
You may also be interested in what others think. Probably the most significant supporting document is that prepared by the US Windsurfing Association (USWA)
1991 Updated USWA Report on PFD's
If you are as passionate about this issue as I am, or even halfway so, please consider writing to the gentleman in charge of the revisions and acting as liaison with the public and various organizations with respect to alterations to the proposed SVR:
Regulatory Services and Quality Assurance (AMSX)
Transport Canada, Marine Safety
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street
In any correspondence to TC, be sure to quote Canada Gazette, Part I, revisions dated Ottawa, April 2, 2009, published on April 25th, 2009.
Comments are due in writing by May 25, 2009.
If there are any other sailors out there who feel that PFD use should be their own personal choice, I highly recommend writing a letter or email to TC to support alterations to the proposed changes to the Small Vessel Regulations.