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Translating Government Documents or The New Bafflegab

1999 Fall/Winter Newsletter

The 1999 Fisheries and Oceans Canada booklet, Safe Boating Guide, sets out the new laws re boating. As of April 1,1999 the safe boating regulations apply to all recreational pleasure craft of any size with a motor of any size. Safe boating regulations also apply to canoes, kayaks, sailboats, paddleboats etc. The regulations divide into four sections concerning equipment, training and proof of competency, age, horsepower restrictions, and fines.

The bafflegab section has to do with safety equipment. What we used to call a boat is now a pleasure craft. A life jacket or vest is now a personal flotation device (PFD). A manual propelling device is an oar, paddle or an anchor outfitted with a chain, rope or combination thereof. A sound signalling device is a pealess whistle or horn.

Every Minnicock boat must have a bailer. Paddleboats are exempt from this requirement because they are presumed to be watertight and if the cockpit is filled with water the boat would not be swamped. In addition, every Minnicock boat must have a 15m buoyant heaving line, manual propelling device, a whistle or horn, and Canadian-approved personal flotation devices (zipped up) of the right size and type for every passenger. If travelling at night, a waterproof flashlight should be used in place of navigation lights.

The regulations are quite specific about competency requirements. If born after April 1,1983, all operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor must now have a certificate of competency by September 1,1999. All operators of motorized craft under 4 m in length must be certified by September 15, 2002. This includes the heartily detested personal watercraft i.e. sea-doo. All other operators of any motorized craft must have proof of competency by September 15, 2009. No certificate is required for canoes, kayaks, rowboats etc. if manually propelled.

The competency certificate is like a driver’s license and must be on board with you at all times. Once obtained, the certificate is good for life. The certificate may be obtained in several ways. You are covered if you have proof that you have taken a safe boating course prior to April 1,1999. If you have received a minimum mark of 75% on a Canadian Coast Guard accredited course, you receive a certificate. Through self-study of the Coast Guard course and with a mark of 75% you may also obtain your certificate. FOCA has co-operated with the Coast Guard and the Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons (CPS) to produce a manual. At a cost of $10, which includes handling, FOCA will mail the CPS Boat Pro Manual to member associations. This is a 16 chapter, 70 page course in colour. Bulk discount rates are available.

New age restrictions are also in effect. A 12 year old not directly supervised by someone in the boat who is 16 years or older may operate a vessel up to 10 hp. if between 12 and 16 years of age, youngsters may operate a boat with a motor up to 40 hp. No one under 16 may operate a personal water craft. There are no power restrictions for those 16 years and older. All of the above presumes that the operator holds a valid certificate of competency

You are fined $200 if you do not have a sufficient number of approved lifejackets. Boat cushions are now illegal. Operating a vessel in a careless manner also triggers a fine of $200. Call the Boating Safety infoline at 1-800-267-6687 for a complete listing of fines and an update on the Contraventions Act for Ontario.