Practice Boat Safety This Summer – Boating Rules In Ontario | MG Law

MG Law Injury Lawyers

Practice Boat Safety This Summer – Boating Rules In Ontario

Ontario is home to many, many bodies of water. In fact, Ontario has more than 250,000 lakes and makes up for about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. It may come as no surprise that because of this, boating is a very popular hobby come summertime.

Whether you’re an avid sailor or an occasional boater, you’ve probably spent some time on one of our great lakes. However, many people seem to enjoy the fun of boating, without thinking about its safety. Just like cars, boats are considered a vehicle and can cause serious damage or even cause death when operated improperly.

Boat Safety In Ontario – Why It Matters

Boats are massive vehicles that can have disastrous consequences when safety is ignored – however, many people look at boats as just fun toys. Many people would never drink and drive, or speed, however, they adopt a completely different attitude when it comes to boat safety.

This month, a 33-year-old man and his 7-year-old daughter were pulled from the water at the Grand River Conservation Authority in Wellington County. The inflatable boat they were on had capsized, and unfortunately, the father was later pronounced dead in hospital.1

That same week, a 71-year-old man from Wisconsin was pronounced dead after an incident on Clay Lake, in Northwestern Ontario after his fishing boat capsized.2

Just last month, two people between the ages of 24 and 34 were killed when a boat they were on crashed in the Toronto Harbour. The boat hit a rock island breakwater, causing it to capsize. The other eight people were safely rescued. The cause of the collision is still under investigation.3

Based on federal estimates, 100 people die in Canada every year in boating accidents. Many more suffer serious injuries. According to the Canadian Safe Boating Council, alcohol is a factor in 40% of all boating fatalities, despite drinking and boating being illegal.4

Boating Rules In Ontario

Transport Canada publishes an important resource for boaters in Ontario to keep them updated on the safety regulations and rules, called the Safe Boating Guide. It is a great resource to read every spring, to brush up on your boating safety knowledge before you set off on the water. However, it’s important to note that the Safe Boating Guide may not have the most up-to-date laws and regulations, so it’s important to confirm which new rules may have been implemented since you last boated.  

The Canada Shipping Act is the law that governs pleasure crafts, including boats. Canada’s Criminal Code also applies to boating and includes offenses like operating a boat while impaired, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and operating an unseaworthy boat.

In order to operate a boat or own a boat, you must first look into what documents are required, insurance needed, training required, and safety equipment that must always be on board. Any pleasure craft powered by an engine of 10 hp or more must be registered and operated by someone licensed at all times.

How To Get Your Boating License In Ontario

In Ontario, you must obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card by passing a boating safety test. This test is taken through a course provider that Transport Canada has accredited. This test will cover basic boating safety, such as:

  • How to share waterways
  • How you should respond in an emergency
  • What different buoys look like and what they mean
  • What safety equipment must be on board your boat
  • A review of the various safety regulations and laws

You can find a list of accredited boater exam providers here.

It’s important to note that there are also age restrictions for certain boats, based on horsepower.

Age RequirementHorsepower Restriction
Under the age of 12 with no direct supervision of someone 16 or olderCan operate a boat up to 10 hp (7.5 kW)
Ages 12 to 16 with no direct supervisionCan operate a boat up to 40 hp (30 kW)
Under 16 years of age, regardless of supervisionMay not operate a personal watercraft*
Older than 16No horsepower restrictions

*A personal watercraft is a small recreational watercraft where the driver is sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel, not within in, and includes water scooters and jet skis.

You must always have the appropriate boat safety equipment required, based on the type and length of your boat. The safety equipment on board must always be:

  • Easy to access in the case of an emergency
  • Well maintained and replaced based on manufacturer’s instructions or recommendations
  • In working order

These rules apply to everyone, whether you own, rent, or have borrowed the boat.

The minimum boat safety equipment requirements for paddleboats, watercycles, stand-up paddleboards, sealed-hull and sit-on-top kayaks are:

  1. One lifejacket or PFD for every person on board.
  2. One reboarding device.
  3. One buoyant heaving line at least 15 m in length.
  4. One bailer, one manual bilge pump, or bilge-pumping arrangements.
  5. One sound signalling device or appliance.
  6. Navigational lights.
  7. One magnetic compass.
  8. One radar reflector.
  9. If the boat is over 6 m in length, you must also carry one watertight flashlight and six flares of Type A, B, C, or D. Only two flares can be Type D.

If everyone on board is wearing their life jacket or appropriate PFD, then you only need to carry a sound signalling device and a watertight flashlight if the boat is being used in period of restricted visibility, before sunrise or after sunset.

The minimum boat safety equipment requirements for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rowing shells or other human-powered boats are:

  1. One lifejacket or PFD for every person on board.
  2. One reboarding device.
  3. One buoyant heaving line at least 15 m in length.
  4. One bailer, one manual bilge pump, or bilge-pumping arrangements.
  5. One sound signalling device or appliance.
  6. Navigational lights.
  7. One magnetic compass.
  8. One radar reflector.
  9. If the boat is over 6 m in length, you must also carry one watertight flashlight and six flares of Type A, B, C, or D. Only two flares can be Type D.

The minimum boat safety equipment requirements for sail and power boats up to 6 m are:

  1. One lifejacket or PFD for every person on board.
  2. One reboarding device.
  3. One buoyant heaving line at least 15 m in length.
  4. One manual propelling device or one anchor and at least 15 m of chain, rope, or cable.
  5. One bailer or one manual bilge pump.
  6. One sound signalling device or appliance.
  7. Navigational lights.
  8. One magnetic compass.
  9. One radar reflector.
  10. One 5BC fire extinguisher if the boat is equipped with an inboard engine, a fixed fuel tank or any size, or a fuel-burning appliance.
  11. If the boat has a motor, you must also carry one watertight flashlight and three flares of Type A, B, C, or D. Only one flare can be Type D.

As the boat grows in size, the rules and regulations become stricter, requiring additional boat safety equipment.

Before You Go Boating, Make Sure To:

  1. Inspect your boat and ensure it’s in safe, working order.
  2. Monitor the weather and head for shore if the skies look dark and cloudy.
  3. Make a sail plan that includes the route you intend to take, even for short trips.

Remember, The Same Laws That Apply To Driving, Apply To Boating.

Never boat while under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. This includes having open alcohol or accessible alcohol on the boat. Do not speed, follow safety signage and avoid boating near swimming areas or too close to shore.

Anytime you are operating a boat, you are responsible for the safety of those in your boat and those around you.

Remember, only drink water while on the water. Save the beer for the pier, and only after you are done operating your boat for the day.

Our Boating Accident Lawyers Will Get You The Boating Accident Settlement You Deserve.

Helping people recover boating accident compensation is what we do. We’ve been doing it for years. Put MG Law in your corner and benefit from our experienced boating accident lawyers who deal with the unique process of boating accidents like second nature. Our team can deliver legal advice in your choice of English, French, Greek, Mandarin, Russian, and all Arabic dialects. Therefore, you can seek the boating accident settlement you deserve in a language that is comfortable for you. With any Ontario boating accident, timing is key. Rest assured, MG Law will make sure you have everything in order, so you can focus on what really matters – your rehabilitation and full recovery.

Sources:

  1. https://globalnews.ca/news/8898242/mississauga-father-daughter-water-incident-rockwood-opp/
  2. https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/us-angler-dies-in-northwestern-ontario-boating-accident-5451454
  3. https://globalnews.ca/news/8886757/toronto-police-fatal-boat-collision-toronto-harbour/
  4. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/about-100-canadians-die-each-year-in-boating-accidents-here-s-how-to-stay-safe-1.4569690?cache=

Book your free consultation

We're here to help

Book your free consultation

Our team communicates in English, French, Greek, all Arabic dialects, Mandarin, and Russian, so you can feel more comfortable with our representation.