® in the News

Time's Up for Boat Licenses

Orillia Packet & Times

Orillia, Ontario. There's a multitude of lawbreakers on the high seas.

Not pirates.

No, it's boaters without Pleasure Craft Operating Cards.

In the 10 years the federal government has phased in the requirement to have these cards, only four million of an estimated 12 million boaters bothered to take the 36-question test.

Sept. 15 was the deadline.

"Two thirds of boaters, if they're on the water today, would be boating illegally," said Robert Dupel, spokesman for®.

And being caught without an operator's card could cost more than $500, Dupel said.

As well as leveling a $250 fine on the person operating the boat, police can fine the boat owner $250 as well, even if the owner has a card.

At the same time, police can issue $100 fines for each piece of safety equipment missing from a boat they stop -- things such as a bailing can, waterproof flashlight, whistle or other sounding device, throw rope, etc.

Even someone in a small boat or canoe with a trolling motor must have the operating card and all the safety equipment, Dupel said.

Perhaps Transport Canada could have advertised this week's deadline more widely, Dupel said.

"A lot of people still have no clue they need this card."

But regardless, the law is the law and if you are caught, "the blame's on you," he added.

If you have not taken the test, the material you need to study can be read free online at®.

There is a 44-page, safe boating manual and a 50-page safe boating guide from Transport Canada.

The booklets go over the "rules of the road" and safety procedures, Dupel noted.

On the same site, boaters can take the test for $50. Each test has 36 questions drawn from a bank of 800 and takes about 45 minutes to complete.

You need 75% to pass. If you fall short the first time, you have to wait 24 hours before trying again at no additional cost, Dupel said.

Ten years ago recreational boating was virtually unregulated, Dupel said.

"There were no guidelines, nothing. You could send out a seven-year-old in the biggest boat in Canada."

Now children under 12 can only operate boats of 10 horsepower or less by themselves and only if they have an operating card.

Children 12 to 16 can operate boats up to 40 horsepower by themselves. Anything more powerful and they must be accompanied by an adult.

Regulations also restrict the use of personal watercraft to persons 16 and older.

Orillia Packet & Times