Regulated traffic in port waters

There’s no fooling around with water safety; pleasure boaters must play by the rules in port waters.


Sylvain Turcotte and the Port of  Montreal's civil works and fleet teams were busy putting up
new information signs to make port regulations accessible to everyone.

In August and September, the Port of Montreal’s civil works and fleet teams were busy putting up new information signs along the walls of the port’s piers. The message is loud and clear: Boaters are forbidden to swim, to drop anchor or to fish from a boat in certain areas of the Port of Montreal’s waters.

If the fine seems hard to swallow – $5,000 – the intention is not to take unfair advantage of those at fault, but to discourage anyone from violating the regulations. In other words, to protect all boaters. There actually is a real danger of accident due to the traffic of large cargo and passenger ships.

Why do you think boats must never under any circumstance be closer than 30 metres from a moving ship? Because a large vessel can’t slow down, let alone stop within a short distance. Aside from the possibility of a collision, there’s the danger of suction. This phenomenon can be explained as follows: when a large vessel advances, masses of water are displaced in front of her. This movement creates a momentary void on the sides of the vessel. Since nature abhors a vacuum, the water near the vessel’s walls is attracted to the displaced area. Any small, light boat also there could be carried away by the magnet effect and slam into the large vessel.

To not impede the passage of large vessels and to avoid collisions, fishing from a boat is prohibited within 100 metres of any pier or vessel.

Likewise, it is forbidden to swim in certain areas. Wouldn’t you think that goes without saying? “It really has happened that AML’s tour boat, the Cavalier Maxim, and big passenger liners have been delayed by people swimming and fishing,” confirmed Stéfan Routhier, Deputy Harbour Master, Marine Division.

For more information about the regulations for vessels, large and small, that ply the Port of Montreal’s waters, see the Practices and procedures document on the port’s website.