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A Question on Float Tube Visibility


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I was fishing Summit Lake in BC on the family vacation, and as usual I ended staying out on the lake in my float tube way after the sun had gone down. I heard a power boat start up down the lake, then head towards where I was. I realized I didn’t even have a flashlight to wave to show where I was in the dark. There followed a period where I kicked hard to get out of the way while listening to the motor sound getting louder and louder. :boat: Thankfully, I made it to shore before the boat went by. I was wondering what others do to be visible in your float tube after dark?




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Not to be funny but the best is to not get caught out on the lake after dark. We all do it from time to time - so if you are ....stay real close to shore.


As some of the guys know I tend to carry way to much stuff. When I'm in my float tube I carry a flash light, whistle, lighters and a bunch of other items including and most important ...an inflatable life jacket.. I've even seen small strobe lights that would fit in your shirt pocket that you could turn on in a moments notice . I guess it's up to you as to how much stuff you want to carry.


I've even considered packing tow rope just in case I get tired and can manage to to hook on to a couple of tubers or floaters that are in better shape or younger than I to tow me in. It's worth a try eh



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I'm not sure float tubes re covered by boating regs.

However. as far as safety equipment to carry,.

you would do well to follow some of the regs for a small rowboat or canoe.

Minimum safety equipment

1. PFD

2. Noisemaker and/or flares

3. Throw rope (20 to 25 ft)

4. Flashlight if out after dark (show a white light all around)

Items that might be useful

5. Flares

6. Small Anchor (to keep the wind from drifting too far)

7. Extra means of propulsion (a lost fin means paddling in circles,

so an extra fin or swimmer's hand paddles might be useful.)

Items not applicable to a tube

8. Bailer (although some waterproof duct tape might be useful to mend a small leak)

This may sound like ovrekill, but

carrying a little extra equipment may save your life.

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I use (or rather - have on the tube for emergencies) a red LED strobe - like the ones used on bicycles after dark. Only a few dollars worth of equipment - just clips on to my float tube / pontoon


I also carry a headlamp with 3 colors, and flares if after dark...

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At the fishing center I saw a small led light that can be fastened to a PT boat or other vessel....... It was supposed to very bright and would double as a light to tie on flies or attract Mosquitos, moths, and other various creatures of the dark....


I'm not sure how much, but they were right next to the counter...beside the spinning reels

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I did a bit more research on the topic of safety equipment for vessels.

Firstly, Canadian regulations are mute on belly boats specifically, but they do say:

"These Regulations do not apply to floating devices that measure less than 2 m in length and that are not designed to be fitted with a motor."

So one could go without personal protection, boat safety and navigation equipment and still be legal. Not necessarily safe, but legal.

For pontoon boats that can be fitted with a motor (which I think applies to most of them) then the regulations would apply and the following are required:

Personal Protective Equipment

1. PFD

2. Bouyant heaving line of not less than 15m length

Boat Safety Equipment

3. one manual propelling device or

one anchor with at leat 15m of rope, cable or chain

4. Bailer - (multi compartment hulls are exempt which would apply to a pt boat)

Navigation Equipment

5. Sound signalling device or sound signalling appliance (whistle)

6. Navigation lights that meet the Collision Regulations if out after dark

The Collision Regs say that for a vessels underway- oars:

It may exhibit sidelights and a stern light, but if not then:

"shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision."

If you have a motor on your PT boat:

"A power-driven vessel of less than seven metres in length whose maximum speed does not exceed seven knots may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and shall, if practicable, also exhibit sidelights."

Belly boats would probably fit as follows:

"(d) In inconspicuous, partly submerged vessels or objects being towed:

--a white all-round light, 3 miles."

So the way I interpret it for both PT and Belly boats, on the lake after dark,

you need to carry a white flashlight (waterproof), preferrably one that is visible all around and bright tnough to be seen 3 miles away.

The regs probably would not recognize a flashing red LED.


Oh and by the way, if your PT boat has a motor, you need an operators card.

Edited by dave robinson
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It's actually not that much stuff.

1. If you don't already wear some kind of PFD,

sooner ot later your next of kin will thank you for your life insurance.

It could an inflatable ones (Mustang $180 @ The Fishin' Hole)

or a combined vest/lifejacket (nautilus frontier $80 @ Fishin Hole)

I use a Seratus padddling jacket (big armholes for casting - now $95 @MEC)

2. If you fish chironomids, you probably already have an anchor.

All you need do is make sure it has 15m of rope. (3/16" nylon will do)

(Marine Safety Rope @ CanTire for about $8.00)

3. You can buy a cheap plastic whistle ($3.60 @ MEC) and

tie it onto your PFD or vest along with your snips

4. The 15 M floating heaving line is an extra item you may not be carrying

(One with a small stow bag $28.75 @ MEC, cheapy w/o bag at Can Tire for $10)

This would come in real handy if you ever need to be towed back to the dock

or pulled out of the bog you got stuck in while finding a place to pee.

5. A small waterproof flashlight weighs only a few ounces.

If you get one with a clip, you can use it to tie flies on in the dark.

(Coghlans Emergency Strobe or Princeton Tech Blast $13 @MEC)

So you can have 5 items (2 of which you probably already have)

for a total cost of between $100 and $200.

Very cheap life insurance.

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Are you sure that a pontoon boat is required to have these...I nor any of the guys I fish with have ever been questioned or checked while being stopped for licences.... Maybe the F&W officers didnt realize to check.... who knows.... :unsure:


Oh, Actually othere than the extra rope I have all the items on your list.... I have a 9'9" fly rod with floating line.. will that work ;)



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