It’s amazing how up in cottage country even little kids seem to have an intuitive sense of how boating works. This includes everything from putting in gas, covering them up, parking, and even driving. Yet, even people who have been around motor boats their entire life will have to take a boating course in order to get their license. Since you can’t legally drive a motor boat (even the small ones!) without a license, it is essential that you take the course. However, there are other practical reasons aside from legalities that will help ensure that your time on the boat is fun and safe.
First thing, ensure that your course provider is a certified Transport Canada certified course provider. This way they will give you the certification you need to avoid costly tickets! Most of them have been around for at least a decade and have a solid history of issuing licenses.
To start with, nobody is exempt from requiring a license when they operate any boat on water that has a motor. There is no grandfather rule that allows people to be exempt so long as they’ve been boating since before it was necessary-everyone (EVERYONE!) who operates a boat needs one. Perhaps if you drive a boat without one you’ll get away with it, but it’ll always be in the back of your mind and the paranoia will affect how much fun you have. This is especially true because if you get caught without a proper license the fines can be steep. Not having proof of your operator license on board costs you $250. There are other fines relating to carelessness, speeding, letting someone underage operate the boat, and even pulling someone on a rope without a spotter, but operating a boat without the license is the stiffest penalty. Tragically, there are hundreds of deaths in Canada every year associated with motor boating, some of which are avoidable. Along the same lines, there are on average six thousand accidents a year that aren’t fatal but can cause injuries and be costly. Taking a course on boating diminishes the odds that you’d end up in this regrettable position. The goal of the course is to properly evaluate what your abilities and limits are, to prepare themselves sufficiently before heading out to the water and in general being responsible. Actually, there used to be no law requiring people of any age to be properly certified but since a rash of accidents, the general public and boating community has voiced their enthusiasm for a proper certification process.
We are very, very fortunate to have beautiful lakes here, but we have an obligation to share them in a way that is safe and inclusive with our neighbouring community so that we all may enjoy nature. The lakes may be wider than roads, but they’re similar in that fast vehicles are operating in a communal space.
Even if you’ve been around boats your entire life you need to take a boating course, so get your license and have fun!