Operation Safe & Sober returns to Hamilton Harbour

Hamilton Police Service Marine Unit and Hamilton Port Authority Harbour Master’s Office/Port Patrol renew campaign to keep recreational boaters safe.

Boating season is upon us, and the Hamilton Police Service Marine Unit and Hamilton Port Authority Harbour Master’s Office/Port Patrol are continuing to engage recreational boaters with an ongoing boating safety campaign.

Now in its second year, ‘Operation Safe & Sober’ focuses on tips to stay safe while enjoying the water this boating season. The information is a refresher on safety practices all boaters should know, like wearing a life jacket, and not drinking and boating.

Operation Safe & Sober also addresses an issue that is particularly relevant to Hamilton Harbour: how to safely share the Harbour with large commercial cargo ships.  Close to 600 large commercial vessels sail into Hamilton Harbour each year.  Recreational boaters, especially those visiting from elsewhere, may not be used to seeing or navigating around large ships.  These vessels have limited maneuverability and small craft need to be visible and steer clear.

The Marine Unit and Harbour Master’s Office/Port Patrol will be reaching out directly to recreational boaters on the water and at local marinas throughout the season.  Our priority is the safety of all waterways users.  You can expect to see police actively patrolling and conducting vessel safety inspections in Hamilton Harbour and Western Lake Ontario.  Our goal is to promote and increase boater safety through a combination of education and enforcement.

Safe Navigation

  • Show navigation lights from sunset to sunrise, and when visibility is reduced.
  • Stay clear of commercial docks and piers.
  • Always keep out of the way of commercial vessels. You don’t want to be where you cannot be seen by the captain operating the vessel.
  • Never pass between a tug and its tow.
  • Stay alert, keep a sharp lookout and maintain a safe speed at all times.
  • Be familiar with any navigational dangers in your area. Check local charts.

Sober Boating

  • Alcohol is a factor in nearly 40 per cent of boating incidents.
  • Sun, wind, waves and motion of the boat can exacerbate the effects of alcohol.
  • Open alcohol and consumption are illegal on all pleasure craft while underway.
  • Alcohol may only be consumed while at anchor or docked, and only if your vessel has permanent sleeping, cooking and washroom facilities.
  • Impaired boating is a criminal offence and carries the same penalties as impaired driving.

Safe Operation

  • All pleasure craft are required to have properly fitted life jackets or PFDs for each person on board.
  • Boaters are strongly encouraged to wear their PFDs at all times.
  • On average each year, more than 100 Canadians drown while boating. Nearly 90 per cent of them were not wearing a PFD, or did not have it done up properly.
  • For marine assistance, use VHF Radio channel 16, or dial *16 on your cell phone.

Check the Weather

  • Always check the forecast before setting out. Current conditions on Hamilton Harbour are available on Harbour West Marina’s website at www.harbourwest.ca.

Media Inquiries


Cst. Ben Rushton


[email protected]



Larissa Fenn (Communications)

905-525-4330 ext. 235

[email protected]