Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A ride-along with an OPP boat patrol

Below is a not-completely-linear account of a ride-along my wife and I did with an Ontario Provincial Police boat patrol. You may recall that my wife is a member of the Korean Coast Guard or Maritime Police so we felt it would be interesting to see what and how things are done here. My father was an OPP officer so we have a few contacts and before we arrived, mom had arranged for us to do a ride-along.

Below is an excerpt from what I emailed my wife about our experiences. She wanted me to write an account to compare with hers. Eventually, something may be posted in the Korean Coast Guard monthly newsletter.

We signed a waiver agreeing not to sue if things went bad but there was no confidentiality request or anything. Still, one of the officers is a friend and general blogging ettiquette is to be cautious with names so I removed them and made some other slight changes... Nothing underhanded occurred but you will not see the boat-owners of the boats that were inspected, for example.
I also added a bit about locks as I think there are none in Korea (until Seoul Mayor and presidential candidate Lee Myoung-bak has his way and makes a rediculous canal connecting the Han and Nakdong).

We started at Couchiching Narrows, a narrow point between Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe, at 12 noon. We crossed Couchiching and entered the Severn waterway and travelled about two kilometres to Lock 42. Further information can be found here:

On the way to the Severn waterway, we stopped one boat. At the lock, Constable Dave handed out T-shirts to a boatload of children wearing their lifejackets. On the waterway we crossed under a very low (nine feet or just under 3metres) railway bridge.

Returning to Lake Couchiching, we stopped four boats for equipment inspections. The first held a family and was well-prepared for water travel. The second held a group of university students and they were missing batteries for their flashlight. The police were concerned they might have damaged the student's boat as it was mishandled approaching the police boat and caught under some metal part of the police boat stern (it may have a nautical name and I am a fairly nautical guy, but I don't know it- the student's boat was NOT under the police boat- naturally).

The third boat was also well prepared but the officers had expected to find problems as it was a pontoon boat or "party barge"- the sort of boat where alcohol is often found.
The fourth boat attracted their attention as it had a kid up front without a lifejacket. Upon inspection is was found to be missing several items. The fines would have totalled over three hundred dollars but the man was very cooperative so they reduced the fine to one hundred and twenty-five. He passed the all-important "attitude test".

The officers told us they had "zero tolerance for lifejacket and alcohol violations" but minor problems in other areas might get merely a warning.

Yesterday was a sad day for members of the Kwandong family. My wife and her second cousin (the girl on the right, below) went home to Korea, while the little guy and I will remain in paradise for most of July.

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