OPERATING WATERCRAFT, THE LAW AND BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOUR
This document summarizes key legal requirements and common courtesies that all those, who operate watercraft, should follow. We all have a responsibility to adhere to the law and promote respectful behavior from those who boat on our lake.
All types of water craft (including non-motorized water craft ) are subject to the various laws and regulations at all times, regardless of who is operating them, or even if you happen to have the whole lake to yourself.
All operators born after April 1st 1983 and all operators of craft less than 13' 1” require a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. On September 15, 2009, this requirement will be extended to all ages and all motorized boat operators regardless of craft size, type or horsepower on any body of water in Ontario. Everyone requiring the Operator Card must have it with them while driving any qualifying vessel.
The basic tenets of offenses under the Criminal Code include;
The local OPP Marine Water Patrol makes routine spot check visits and respond to legitimate requests to survey and enforce laws and regulations on the water. They have a zero-tolerance policy.
GOOD ADVISE WHETHER IT'S THE LAW OR NOT
Common Courtesy – Sharing the Water
While there are many regulations that should be followed, there are also common courtesies that will make cottage life more pleasant for all of us. Keep your wakes and noise to a minimum when not involved in specific activities. If you are cruising, cruise at a speed below partial planing or cruise at full plane. A boat being run at 10-15 miles per hour on a partial plane, with its nose in the air produces a very large wake, enough to capsize a canoe or kayak.
If you approach a canoe or paddle boat, slow down to an idle or at least adjust your course so your wake will strike the other craft at right angles or give the others time to react appropriately. Think about the effect you have on others. Creating a lot of noise or wakes late at night or early in the morning affects the enjoyment of others who use the calmness of those hours to canoe or sail or row.
Towed Water Sports Spotter/Observer
As mentioned, it is the Law to have an observer or spotter for all behind the boat activities. There must be a spotter and a seat available for each person being towed. This rule makes it illegal to tow a skier, wakeboarder, or tuber with a 2 seat PWC. It is not legal to participate in towing activities 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise.
First and foremost, a “qualified” spotter is someone who is over the age of 16 and meets at least one of the following requirements:
Additionally, the spotter must be familiar with the Skiers hand signals and be paying attention at all times to relay these to the driver, such that the driver can focus forward and not be looking backwards while going down the lake towing a skier behind at moderate to high speeds.
Right of Way
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and be considerate of all others on and in the water.
In general, a boat approaching on your right has the right of way, and you pass an approaching boat or overtake on the right or starboard side. Powered craft are required to heed right of way of all non-powered crafts like canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, windsurfers, swimmers, scuba divers and wildlife on our waters. i.e.: loons, ducks, geese, beavers etc.
If and when in doubt, slow down or stop. Never buzz or tail another craft in close proximity. Never try to spray swimmers or other water users of any kind or intentionally try to jump the wake of another craft. Avoid collisions goes without saying and avoid close calls.
As an operator of any craft on the water you should respect all others on or near the water. Operators using courtesy and common sense will not create a hazard, stress or threat to any reasonable person, wildlife or the environment.
It is the law in Ontario that all boats operate at a speed of 10km or less when within 30 meters of shore, except for;
COMMON COURTESY, GOOD NEIGHBOURS AND SHARING THE WATER
While there are many regulations that should be followed, there are also some common courtesies that will make cottage life more pleasant for all of us.
Keep your wakes to a minimum when not involved in specific activities. If you are cruising, either cruise at a speed below a partial plane or cruise at a full plane. A boat traveling at 10-15 miles per hour, with its nose in the air produces a very large wake, enough to capsize a canoe or paddle boat, or potentially damage docks and moorings.
If you approach a canoe or paddle boat, consider slowing down to an idle or at least adjust your course so your wake will strike the other craft at right angles or give the others time to react appropriately. Remember you have a legal obligation to take reasonable precautions to avoid a collision or accident, and if you cause a capsizing, you are legally obligated to remain and render assistance.
Many of those who canoe or kayak do so early in the morning. Also many people like to sleep in at the cottage. Most don't appreciate a loud motorboat racing up the lake at the crack of dawn. Before you engage in any activity, think of what effect it might have on your neighbors before starting it.
Additional Information – References
These is a great deal of information available on the web regarding safety, first aid, CPR, Transport Canada approved life jackets. We encourage readers to research these and other related areas for current practice.