® in the News

Online boat licenser casts its Net for boaters

Canadian Coast Guard approved: Safe boating exam written at home and boat licence issued

National Post  July 21st, 2000®, a three-man company based in suburban Ottawa, has taken advantage of the introduction of the federal government's move to license the drivers of pleasure boats in Canadian waters by offering the entire testing and registration process online.

“We’ve got three partners working from the basement on evenings and weekends,” Brent McNamee, director of marketing and sales for®, said in an interview. “Basically you go in and train online. They can print a boating safety manual in both official languages and whenever they feel ready, they can challenge the multiple choice safe boating exam.”

Boat operators required to pass safe boating exam

Last year, federal legislation was passed that requires boat operators to successfully pass a safe boating exam in order to pilot their crafts. The regulations are being phased in over a number of years, but anyone born after April 1, 1983, must now have the boat licence to operate any motorized pleasure watercraft.

“Four or five years ago, the Coast Guard did public consultations,” said Bill Arliss, a boating safety officer with the Canadian Coast Guard. “We found there was a lot of concern, from various boating groups and members of the public, about boating safety.”

The solution to these public concerns came in the form of the new pleasure craft operator card.

Private organizations to issue Pleasure Craft Operator Card

In order to keep the process official, the Canadian Coast Guard gave 30 organizations the right to issue boaters their pleasure craft operator card. One of those organizations is®.

“We have all types of subcontractors to do our Coast Guard accreditation,” said Robert Dupel, president of Forensic and Nautical Consultants. “We associated ourselves with experts in the field of computers and the Internet.® is the Internet provider of our safe boating course.”® was founded by Mr. McNamee, his father Larry, and avid fisherman, and James Steele, Brent’s friend. They believe they can use the relationship with Forensic and Nautical Consultants to provide safe boating training to a significant portion of the estimated seven million boaters who will need to obtain a pleasure craft operator card over the next decade or so.

The cost of taking the safe boating course and the boat exam through® is $49.95 and applicants are able to complete the safe boating course from the comfort of their homes.

“When people call our 1-800 number we give them the option of doing the boating safty course on the Internet,” said Mr. Dupel, “especially where there is no in-class safe boating course provider, such as in northern Ontario or northern Quebec.”

Proctor required for internet boating exam

An obvious problem with providing this type of online examination is the possibility of cheating by the registrants. To combat would be cheaters, the Coast Guard has implemented a sponsorship system that requires candidates to obtain a ”proctor” to watch them take the boating exam.

“People have to get someone to proctor them,” said Mr. Arliss. “We give them a password and we give another one to a professional person, such as a doctor or a lawyer. They each separately have a password and they both go online together.”

The Canadina Coast Guard believes having this additional person present during the boating exam will be enough to stop most potential cheaters.

Demand for safe boating license growing® said the demand for the new boat license is growing and is inundated with people looking for information on how to obtain their pleasure craft operator cards.

“We are getting a lot of hits on the site,” said Mr. McNamee. “When people are successful [in the boat exam] they can print out a temporary boat licence right away, then we mail the pleasure craft operator card to their homes.”