Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So you need a boaters' card...?

So the folks at Transport Canada have taken out ad space in newspapers across the country, advising boaters to be ready for the coming season. They remind people to make sure their boat is licensed if need be (anything with a 10hp motor or greater), that they have all the appropriate documents and safety equipment as mandated by the Small Vessel Regulations and that they, as the operator of the pleasure craft, have their required proof of competency. This proof of competency is a necessity for ANYONE THAT OPERATES A MOTORIZED PLEASURE CRAFT OF ANY DESCRIPTION!!!! And by 'motorized', that means whether by an electric trolling motor or an internal combustion engine.

Needless to say, this has caused a stampede amongst 'the great unwashed', very much like a gunshot in the midst of a large herd of cattle. It really shouldn't come as any shock, however. It's not like the government has 'just come out with this'. Many people believe that simply because they are older individuals ("I've been boating for 80 years, now..."), that there is no requirement to have this proof of competency. When asked what they know of the Canada Shipping Act, most will balefully respond by asking you what that is.

The fact that you haven't died on the water yet, is not a testament to your navigational skill. Just because you may have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by better boaters than you, does not mean that you are either an experienced or a savvy boater.

I will always remember that one caller I dealt with a few years back, who wanted to speak to someone in authority. He was 'a very experienced boater' and was madder than Hell that the Safe Boating Guide dared to suggest that there was such a thing as 'the right of way' on the water. His major concern, according to him, was that this would create mass confusion amongst boaters out there. Clearly this 'very experienced boater' didn't know the first thing about the Rules of the Road (Collision Regulations), which are the very basic building blocks of knowledge for anyone that intends to command a boat. He was a shining example of an incredible level of ignorance.

As a conservative guesstimate, there are probably tens if not hundreds of thousands of boaters out there, who share this very same level of ignorance, when it comes to knowing anything about boating. And that would certainly include many who actually hold a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Canadians as a whole (except for those who might actually merit being called 'boaters'...), also seem incapable of wrapping their heads around the basic boating terminology involved: The LICENSE is for the boat... the CARD is for the operator. THERE IS NO DRIVERS LICENSE FOR BOATS IN CANADA!!!

The Pleasure Craft Operator Card (hereinafter referred to as the PCOC), is simply the tangible proof that the holder of said card, has taken and passed a very basic boating safety exam, somewhere in Canada. Period. It is good for life and does not have to be replaced every few years, as it is NOT A LICENSE...

"Proof of Competency", is required for EVERY boater who is operating a motorized pleasure craft of any description, on any body of water in Canada. There is a great long list of certifications that actually provides "proof of competency" for boaters. This ranges from the PCOC, to professional Marine Safety Certificates, to military proficiency certifications. The complete list of 'proof of competency' certificates, is available at the URL below:

Don't bother telling me how small, minute, minuscule your motor is... it doesn't change the regulations. A motorized vessel is a motorized vessel. The regulations apply to ANY form of propulsion, whether it be an electric trolling motor or a 250hp Black Max.

If your boat is licensed, it MUST BE licensed in your name. Not only that, but you are required to have the paper copy of the license ONBOARD WITH YOU. That means that if you bought the boat in 1986 and have not yet had the license transferred, you are liable for $250.00 fine for not having transferred the license over. What? You're operating the boat without having transfered the license? Another $250.00. And if that's the case, you certainly don't have the paper copy for the license onboard, so tack on another $250.00 fine. (Contravention Regulations).

What...? No PCOC...? That's another $250.00 fine. You can see for yourself how things can add up rather rapidly.

You may want to check out some of the Contraventions Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act, just to see what all you've been missing. You'll no doubt find that besides being painful and fatal, being ignorant can also be a very expensive proposition:
Scroll down to Schedule I.1 (Sections 1 to 3):

This whole situation with the changing rules and regulations dealing with pleasure craft operators, have been coming into force for the last 10 years now. And still, we are consistently greeted by the opening statement: "Yeah... I'd like some information about these NEW REGULATIONS...".

Dude... after 10 frikkin' years (going on eleven, now)... Gimme a break!! These are anything but new.

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