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Canada’s coastlines, rivers and lakes offer recreational power boaters a multitude of opportunities for adventure on the water. From an afternoon on the water while at the cottage, a day out fishing, traveling your boat to new locations, or a multi-day cruising trip, Canadian waters are a world-class environment for power boating!

With any outdoor activity, there’s always an element of risk, and power boating is no exception. Commanding a vessel with inboard or outboard engines requires special care to avoid hazards such as fire, carbon monoxide, instability due to excessive speed, and collisions.

All operators of motorized pleasure craft used for recreational purposes must carry proof of competency on board, typically the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. As well,

  • Persons under the age of 16 may not operate personal watercraft (PWC) under any circumstances;
  • Persons under the age of 12 may not operate boats with motors over 10hp unless supervised by an adult; and
  • Persons aged 12 to 16 may not operate boats with motors over 40hp unless supervised by an adult.

Operating power boats requires that you take precautions to avoid fire and carbon monoxide hazards. You are required by law to take precautions when fueling your boat, and some simple precautions can guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rules of the Road

Understanding and obeying the rules of the road for power boats is critical due to the potential for high-speed collisions. As well, make sure you understand aids to navigation which are buoys and day beacons that govern passage through congested channels.

Before heading out in the water this summer:

The Right Gear

  • Take a safe boating course and make sure all your gear is in good shape.
  • Check the weather forecast and be prepared for it to change.
  • Know the waters you are sailing. If you don’t have a map, inquire about conditions or hazards, including rocks and strong currents.
  • The water can be very cold and can render you hypothermic in minutes. Ensure you’re up-to-date on your lifesaving skills.
  • Wear your life jacket or PFD. About 90% of people who drown in recreational boating incidents are not wearing a flotation device. It’s the best insurance you can have.

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