Licenses/Certificates: (What you need to know for your boat.)

Ok, you bought your first sailboat and you want to go sailing this weekend. But in the meantime, you may not be aware of other items that you must have, such as; Licenses, Insurance, Certificates, and Safety Equipment that need to be obtained to legally protect you and your family. 

Canadian Boating License: (To operate a powered watercraft.)

Does your boat have an inboard or outboard motor on it? Even if it is just only for emergency use, then you need to have a boating license. The boating license includes fulfilling safety requirements for each various size of craft owned. In addition to also learning the navigational rules that exist on the waters? 

In 1999 in Canada to operate a powered watercraft for recreational reasons  you must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) or you can risk a fine. Once certified, your good for life. You can take the multiple-choice exam on many online websites or even attend a local Boater Course in a classroom setting before taking the test.

Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons
Boating License Canada
Boating License
Boater Exam

Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime): (To transmit on a Marine VHF Radio.)

To transmit with or rather to operate a Marine VHF Radio "each person" must have Restricted Operator Certificate  (ROC-M). The ROC-M is a Canadian Federal government issued certificate that allows you to operate a marine VHF radio. Since Marine VHF Radios are used for emergencies, navigation, and ship calling, there are strict policies and protocols that must be followed. Those who abuse use of the VHF radios (not to be used like the trucker CB Radios) will be fined, in addition to those who don't have a ROC-M. In some cases, persons may only have time to make a single emergency call (sinking, man overboard, collision) and set protocols will help ensure a response. 

New VHF radios that are sold with the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) function that will greatly enhance rescue personnel's ability to assist you in an emergency. This technology uses the satellite' based Global Positioning System (GPS) when connected to the VHF radio to send and display your current position.

To best understand all VHF Radio procedures and technology used, it is best to first attend a Marine Radio Course in a local classroom setting before taking the test.

Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons

Note: With a cellular phone, you may contact Rescue Coordination Centres directly. Or, by dialing *16, you will contact the nearest Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre. (Contact your cellular provider to find out if you have access to the *16 service). Remember that a cellular phone is not a good substitute for a marine radio and is not an approved means of issuing a distress call. Making a call does not alert other boaters close to you - and those other boats could be the first to help if they could hear you. Unlike VHF transmissions, cellular phone signals cannot be followed back to your location to be be rescuerd.

Hull Serial Number (HIN): (needed for Pleasure Craft Licence)

Every vessel built or imported for sale in Canada must be marked with a Hull Serial Number (HIN) in accordance with the Small Vessel Regulations (Part 9).

The HIN is usually located on the upper starboard quarter of the outside surface of the transom or if the vessel has no transom, on the uppermost starboard side at the aft end of the hull. The HIN is usually marked in a second location on the hull, that is either beneath a fitting or an item of hardware or that is on the interior of the vessel and unexposed. The manufacturer provided the HIM and for home built vessels you had to apply to Transport Canada.

In August of 1981, Transport Canada ruled that Hull identification numbers where to be displayed on the outside of the hull. Hence prior, many boats didn't have any hull numbers were to apply and simply, many just used by the sail number and manufacturer's name when applying for PCL's. 

Safety Compliance Notice:

All pleasure craft are required to carry a safety compliance notice consisting of a Capacity Label, Conformity Label, or Single Vessel Label, depending on the vessel type and age. These documents are issued by Transport Canada and are affixed by the manufacturer of the craft.

Speed Restrictions: 

If you have a sailboat well this would hardly apply but when boating in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, please observe the speed limit of 10 km/h (6 mph) within 30 meters (100 ft) of shore. This limit applies on all waters within these provinces, except where other limits are posted. These provisions do not apply in rivers less than 100 metres (300 ft) in width, canals and buoyed channels, nor in the case of waterskiing, where the tow boat launches and drops off skiers by heading directly away from or into the shore. 

Insurance: Boat, Trailer, and Contents.

Have you contacted your auto and house insurance company to find out if and how your boat is really covered? There are some myths and assumptions, at times about how much covered that you actually have. Some say if its in the backyard its covered by house, some say if it is connected to your vehicle its covered by car. But what happens if is stored at a 3 rd location say at a marina or yacht club? What if the trailer was stolen without the boat on it? What if the outboard was stolen? What if the boat was stolen or damaged at a dock? What if the sails were damaged? What if the boat fell off the trailer while being towed? Here's a good one, what if the trailer and boat came off the hitch while being towed, who really covers it? Not the car insurance as it wasn't connected. What if you hit another boat on the water and they sue you, are you covered? Who covers all the contents inside your boat? (gps, vhf radio, stereo, camping gear, etc.). Are you covered for liability? Are you covered for full replacement or just a percentage, as if you boat is 30 years old do you even get any money? How much is the deductable, is it less than $200, $500, $1,000? 

Overall it may be best to have a separate marine insurance policy for your boat and trailer, and to be safe have it listed or indicated that you own it as well on both your auto and house insurance so that they are aware of it. There is an old saying "if it has its own serial number it needs it's own policy".

Safety Equipment:

If you were to be boarded by an American Coast Guard or Canadian Coast Guard, or even both or any other types of law enforcement agencies (fish and wildlife, provincial or state or even local police) would your boat contain everything that is needed to pass both safety inspections?

When on a boat and not near land, there are no second chances. Especially when on a sailboat as it can take hours to get back to your port of call. You need to be fully prepared plus maybe a few more personal items than what a general power boater would have, for one example full rain gear and boots. Do you wear life jackets at all times on a sailboat incase the swinging boom hits you tossing you overboard? Which bring about, have you practiced any man overboard drills while under sail. If you go over, is your family trained to navigate your sailboat and to rescue you? Do you have a boarding ladder? Also what about that mast that acts as a lighting rod for storms on open waters we lost our DVD player once from lightning static discharge, I was worried more about losing the VHF radio (which we didn't). Do you carry a spare waterproof handheld VHF radio? 

Pleasure Craft Licence: (for identification)

The Small Vessel Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, require all pleasure craft powered by an engine 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) or more to have a Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL), unless they have a vessel registration.

A Pleasure Craft Licence is the set of identification numbers displayed on a pleasure craft above the waterline on both sides of your pleasure craft in block characters that are at least 7.5 centimetres (3 inches) high and is in a colour that contrasts with the colour of the bow. You must also carry a copy of your Pleasure Craft Licence on board and they are good for ten years and 90 days from point of purchase or selling. 

In 2007, all boat registration numbers prefix's became provincial, eliminating cities codes. 
Service Canada

Pleasure Craft Licence: 2007 Provincial Boat Prefix Codes

AB Alberta NS Nova Scotia NL Newfoundland & Labrador
BC British Columbia NU Nunavut NT Northwest Territories
MB Manitoba ON Ontario QC Quebec
NB New Brunswick PE Prince Edward Island SK Saskatchewan
        YT Yukon


Ontario (E) City Codes (Prior to 2007)

1E Amherstburg 26E n/a 51E Trenton   76E n/a
2E Belleville


Napanee 52E Wallaceburg   77E Pigeon River  
3E Bowmanville


Niagara Falls



78E Port Credit  
4E Brantford


North Bay



79E Acton
5E Fort Erie 30E Orillia



80E Brampton
6E Brockville 31E Oshawa



81E Carleton Place
7E Chatham 32E Ottawa



82E Dun nviIle
8E Coburg 33E Owen Sound



83E Georgetown
9E Collingwood 34E Paris



84E Hanover



35E Parry Sound 60E Bracebridge 85E Little Current



36E Peterborough 61E Coblat 86E Newmarket


Fort Frances

37E Picton 62E Cochrane 87E Orangeville



38E Port Arthur 63E n/a 88E Port Burwell
14E GaIt   39E Port Hope 64E Leamington 89E Port Dover



40E Lansdowne   65E Port Lambton 90E Port Stanley



41E Prescott 66E Southampton 91E St.Mary’s



42E Sarnia 67E Timmins 92E Strathroy




Sault Ste Marie

68E Pembroke 93E n/a



44E Simcoe 69E Listowel 94E n/a



45E Stratford 70E Perth 95E Ridgetown



46E Sudbury 71E Port Colborne    




St. Catharines

72E Rainy River    




St. Thomas

73E Renfrew    





74E Smiths Falls      





75E Tilbury      

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