As the water levels rise in our local lakes and streams, boaters of all kinds are gearing up for a new season out on the water. A burgeoning lake may seem inviting but it takes more than a sturdy hull to make you a sailor. In order to operate a motorized boat over 10 HP in Canada you are required to successfully complete the boater exam and obtain your pleasure craft license. There is no age exemption – the law applies to all operators. Your license is good for life with no annual fees and is valid in every province. BOATERexam.com® is a Transport Canada approved course provider for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card and provides the online course, exam (with free retries) and temporary cards for immediate use for $49.95. Not only as a means of gauging your nautical know-how, this licensing system, allows Search and Rescue personnel access to information about your boat in the event of an emergency.
If you are considering becoming a pleasure craft operator and have completed the online course and obtained your license then you need dear captain need a vessel. If you are thinking of buying a boat make sure that it has a hull serial number, a Canadian compliance notice and if necessary, a copy of the declaration of conformity. A Canadian compliance notice indicates that the boat met the construction requirements at the time it was built. If it is a used boat, ensure that it meets the construction standards, marine surveyors can be employed to conduct the examination on your behalf. Boat trailers are also subject to licensing and regulation and require you to transfer ownership at the regional license bureau. Building a boat is another popular option for boaters. Remember when constructing a pleasure craft it must meet or exceed the construction requirements of the Small Vessel Regulations and the construction standards outlined by Transport Canada. Thinking of renting? You can either obtain your pleasure craft operator license or complete the rental boat safety checklist. Ask the rental company for basic safety information about the boat and local lake or river. You must sign the rental checklist and carry it on board the vessel to serve as proof of competency.
Safety equipment is necessary on all marine vessels and the most obvious of these items is a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or Lifejacket. Equipment requirements are the same whether you own, rent or borrow the boat and includes all types of vessels. Pre-stocked safety kits for pleasure crafts can be purchased at local retailers like Canadian Tire and are often standard issue with new or rented boats.
For more information about boating safety you can call the toll free info line at 1-800-267-6687.
Canada’s Criminal Code applies to boating in that activities such as operating a boat while impaired, failing to stop at the scene of an accident or operating an unseaworthy boat are punishable offence. Boating laws can change from time to time and so it is important to review the safe boating regulations available on Transport Canada’s webpage (http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-menu-1362.htm)
It is also good to keep in mind that while your safety as captain of the ship is important that the water is meant for all to enjoy. Be a responsible boater by sharing the water with others – whether they be fellow sea captains or wildlife, swimmers or shoreline frolickers. Be wary of your wake! You are legally responsible to follow the rules of the “water road” to avoid accidents. These rules include speed limits which can be affected by variables such as wind and water conditions, time of day and weather. Do not drink and boat! Drinking while operating a marine vessel is an infraction of the Criminal Code of Canada. When in doubt contact local OPP for more information on the regulations. Particularly in Lanark County you must be cautious around dams and Lock stations. Undertows, low clearance, backwash can all be deadly. Be mindful of signage and know the lay of the land before heading out. You can find out information about travelling through the canals and locks in our area from Parks Canada at www.pc.gc.ca. You will need to know the proper size for your mooring lines, have working floating fenders and also be aware of the rules in and around the locks. Some have noise, fishing, swimming and towing restrictions. They all have posted speed limits and codes of conduct when it comes to where and how to wait your turn and how to properly enter, exit and moor. The onsite Lock Masters and other Parks Canada staff will help guide you through the process. You will require a pass to travel through the locks but you’re in luck, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the Seasonal Lockage Permit for 2017 is free! So it looks like you picked the perfect year to take up boating.
With your license in hand, PDF and bucket of safety equipment tucked away, you are ready to launch your boat. There are many boat ramps, boat launches and public access points across Lanark County. There is a municipal boat launch at Riverside Park in Carleton place and the cost is only $8/day. Planning on making this a full-season hobby? Grab a “Resident Season Pass” for only $45 for unlimited launch access. All passes can be purchased at Town Hall. There is docking at Riverside Park as well and downtown across from Town Hall on Bridge St at the Public Parking Lot. The perfect spot to dock and hop off for a quick lunch in downtown Carleton Place before continuing on your boating adventure.