Boating: Law, License and Insurance

We all know now that you do need a license to operate a motorboat.  We have seen so many ads and warnings over the past several years.  Did you know that now you need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card to operate any motorized boat even one with a small electric trolling motor?  Persons under 16 are restricted in the type of boats they can operate and the horsepower.  They may not operate a personal water craft or any boat over 40 horse power.  Under 12 must wait before operating any motor boat over 10 horse power.

A license is not needed for a sailboat if there is no motor attached to it at all.  Many people across Canada still do not have licenses and could be subject to fines.  Take the course and get the Pleasure Craft Operator Card already. Children should do the same.   Bring the card with you on board.  The fine is $250 plus administrative charges if you do not have it.  Visitors from out of Canada do not need a license but need to have proof of non-residency on board.

There are also fines for speeding, careless operation, not having a spotter while towing, not having enough life jackets or other safety equipment and more.  The biggest concern is alcohol on board, and impaired operation.  You can also lose your automobile driver’s license and face fines or jail if impaired.  The same alcohol in the blood limits apply to operating a boat as driving a car with the same serious penalties.

You need a license and your boat does too.  It is called a Pleasure Craft License and it is free.  Boats need to be registered with the federal government and renewal every 10 years.  Reporting changes of address are required as are changes of ownership.  If you buy someone else’s boat you must get a bill of sale with proper description of the boat including serial number and the Pleasure Craft License number.  Tax is payable on the sale.  Do not forget boat trailers, which usually come with the boat.  They have Ontario license plates that do not need to be renewed but should be transferred on sale with registration at the Service Ontario office where you register your motor vehicle and driver’s license.  If you buy from a dealer they should take care of all this for you.

After you sell a boat and the sale is not registered you may find yourself in trouble as the owner if it is involved in an accident or other issues arise.  You also need to consider insurance.  Usually smaller horsepower boats are covered under homeowner especially cottage policies.  Once the motor is about 25 horsepower or more it may need to be specifically added to your policy to be covered.   This protects you not only if your boat is stolen or damaged but also if someone is injured by it.  Liability coverage for your boat is very important.  Check with your insurance broker in all instances to make sure you are fully covered.

Having and operating a boat on the Kawartha Lakes is a lot of fun but make sure you take care of these important details first.

Submitted By Murray H. Miskin, Miskin Law Offices 705-755-7363

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