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Do You Know How to Be a Safe Boater?


With summer comes vacation time and as the days get hotter many seek refuge on or near lakes spending more time at cottages and beaches. Boating is a large part of that time spent on the water. Even if you are an experienced boater, it’s always a good idea to review safe boating practices before heading out on the water to keep the experience enjoyable for all.

Enjoy your time on the water with safe boating practices

Do you need a Boating License?

In many parts of the country, you will need a boater’s license. In Ontario, you will need to complete a boating safety course to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The course is offered by accredited providers by Transport Canada. You can find a list here

Boat Safety Checklist:

Lifejackets or PFDs on Board:

You will need to have a PFD (Personal Flotation Device), in the appropriate size for each person in your boat. Many good swimmers are reluctant to wear PFDs but keep in mind that the majority of deaths by drowning are due to not wearing a lifejacket or PFDs.Age and Boat Horsepower Restrictions:

Age and Boat Horsepower Restrictions:

In Ontario, you must be at least 12 years old to operate a boat with over 40 hp, accompanied by someone who is at least 16 years of age. If you are 16 and older, there is no restriction on the size of horsepower on your motorboat. Those under 12 years of age can operate a boat with up to 10 hp.

Be Aware of Weather Conditions:

Before you head out, it’s always a good idea to be up on the weather forecast, particularly noting the wind speeds, and any upcoming rain or stormy weather conditions.

Alcohol or other Drugs:

Alcohol or other Drugs: Never operate a pleasure craft while intoxicated, or consume alcohol while driving a boat. Impaired driving is an infraction of the Criminal Code of Canada, whether on land or water. Boat passengers can enjoy a drink on board so long as your boat has permanent cooking, sleeping and toilet facilities and it is at anchor or docked.

Ontario Liquor License Act: Sec. 32 (3) No person shall operate or have care or control of a boat that is underway while there is contained in the boat any liquor, except under the authority of a license or permit. Sec.32 (4) Exception-Subsection (3) does not apply if the liquor in the boat, (a) is in a container that is unopened and the seal unbroken, (b) is stored in a closed compartment.

Safety Gear:

Other safety gear you should have on board includes, a bailer, a sound device such as a whistle, oars or paddles, navigation lights or a flashlight for a non-motorized boat such as a canoe, a sound-signalling device such as a whistle, and an anchor with at least 15 metres of rope or cable.

Happy sailing into the sunset!

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