How to Say 'Safe Boating' in Mandarin
Thanks to Rick Easthom and Jack Tang of Richmond, British Columbia, Chinese-speaking boaters in their community are learning to enjoy boating in greater safety. And the Canadian Safe Boating Council would like to thank them for their efforts by awarding the team with its award for Best Boating Safety Initiative for 2012, sponsored by Ontario Power Generation.
Richmond is home to a growing number of Chinese Canadians, many of whom also have a passion for boating. But a lack of English language skills has brought a large number of these enthusiasts into harm's way on the waterways of the Fraser River, the Strait of Georgia and Gulf islands. Being unable to read and understand a marine chart, the tides and marine weather often gets boaters in trouble. Both men felt that rookie mistakes such as these could be averted if boating safety courses were available in the boaters' first language. So they decided to join forces to develop a solution.
Rick is Commander of the Fraser Power and Sail Squadron, and an experienced boater and instructor. Fraser Squadron has been delivering the 13-week boating course for several years, which covers the fundamentals of boating: reading and understanding charts, chart work, compass, aids to navigation, and safety equipment. Jack is founder of the West Bay Boating Club and very active in the Chinese-Canadian community. Jack felt that having training materials in Chinese would help Chinese-Canadian students succeed and improve their safety and competence on the water, and approached Rick with the idea.
Rick agreed to deliver the training under the auspices of Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS), and Jack proceeded to recruit five bilingual Chinese-Canadian boaters, who were then trained to become instructors in their native language. Jack provided resources to translate the lesson plans into Chinese characters.
Turning the plan into reality involved other members of the CPS team. When approached by Rick Easthom, Carolyn Reid, CPS National Training Officer recognized the idea as a solution to a need and made sure that the necessary resources were available to get this project done in a very short time frame. Lawrence Lau in Toronto reviewed the translation of the exams and the Boating Basics manual into simplified Chinese characters and John Gullick worked with Transport Canada to get the exams approved.
Since the new program was launched in June 2012, three Chinese boating courses have been held in Richmond. Thirty-two of the 33 participants graduated. And from a national perspective, CPS’s ‘Boating Basics’ text has been translated into Chinese and will soon be available across Canada.
Not content with their success with one initiative, Rick and Jack set out to address the challenge of the boater that finds himself in an emergency situation, trying to communicate with Canadian Coast Guard staff. The two men are now working with the Canadian Coast Guard to develop a relay procedure that will enable boaters to communicate in their own language on a designated frequency. The 'relay' will then provide the translation to the Coast Guard station. Complementing this project, they have developed a workshop and resources to coach participants to manage an emergency call.
Kudos to Rick and Jack for their outstanding partnership to produce a valuable resource to improve the safety on the water!