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Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Boating Questions
March 21st, 2013 @ 12:39 PM EST by admin

Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS) is celebrating their 75th Anniversary in 2013.  Since 1938 CPS has been Canada’s premier recreational boating educator and, as part of their celebration activities, a series of articles on boating and boating safety are being published in our newsletter.  These articles have been written by John Gullick, CPS Manager, Government and Special Programs.   John took his first CPS course 25 years ago and is now a Life Member. He is a Past Commodore of the Peterborough Sailing Club and has been Chairman or President of many recreational Boating organizations. He is a well-recognized Boating Safety Specialist and freelance writer.

Here are the top 10 boating safety questions that I most frequently get asked:

Q – Is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) a licence?
A – No, it is not a boat or vessel licence. It is a certificate that indicates vessel operator competency. Think of it like a school certificate that indicates you have reached a certain level of proficiency. Like a school certificate it is good for life and cannot be taken away. A licence, on the other hand, has to be renewed from time to time and often can be taken away.

Q – Where do I go to get a Pleasure Craft  Licence and/or transfer the  pleasure craft licence of my vessel?
A – Application forms are available on line at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca or for pick up at your local Service Canada Centre. Applications for a pleasure craft licence along with supporting documentation must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre:

Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
P.O. Box 2006
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 5G4

Allow at least (10) business days plus mailing time to process your application. Applications cannot be processed unless you provide complete information and include all required documents.

Q – What information do I need to licence my vessel?
A – You need a bill of sale. To transfer a licence to your name, submit the following documents:
•    a completed Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft Licence;
•    proof of ownership of the pleasure craft; and
•    a signed photocopy of a valid piece of government-issued identification.
Instructions about how to fill out Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft Licence, may be found on the Transport Canada Boating Safety site’s How-to page. In particular, see the “To transfer a pleasure craft licence” section.

If you do not have documents that prove you own the pleasure craft, you will need to make a declaration under oath stating why you cannot produce the bill of sale or proof of ownership. You can use the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided on this site or another similar document, as long as it contains all the information required.

When applying for a pleasure craft licence, include a signed photocopy of your personal identification document. Applicants should submit a photocopy and not the original as they are not returned – they are shredded. Your application and supporting documents must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre.

Q – Do I need to carry the Pleasure Craft Licence on board my vessel?
A – Yes. The law requires that you carry a copy of the Pleasure Craft Licence on board your vessel. I suggest that you take a copy of the original, laminate it and keep it in a safe place on board. Keep the original in a safe location at home.

Q – Do I need a Station Licence for my VHF radio?
A – If you are operating you VHF radio, including a hand held, on a Canadian vessel in Canadian waters – No. If you travel into international waters, including US waters, the answer is – Yes.

Q – Where can I get a VHF Station Licence?
A – Contact any regional Industry Canada/Spectrum Management office in Canada. If your VHF has Digital Selective Calling (DSC) you will require a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) in order to activate the unit. You can also get your MMSI from Industry Canada/Spectrum Management.

Q – Do I need an Operators Certificate to use a VHF radio?
A – Yes, anyone who operates a VHF (Very High Frequency), MF (Medium Frequency) or HF (High Frequency) radio using Marine frequencies, including a hand held radio, requires a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) (ROC(M)). Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons Manages the ROC(M) programme for Industry Canada. This includes all training and testing. For the name if an instructor/examiner near you contact your local Canadian Power & Sail Squadron or their National Headquarters.

Q – Where can I get my recreational vessel Operator Competency Certificate or Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)?
A – There are over 20 PCOC Approved Providers across Canada. Most are private For Profit companies. About three are Not for Profit organizations but all offer different services so make sure the one you choose can meet your needs. Currently four of these providers offer on line instruction and testing. For a complete list of providers go to the Transport Canada Boating Safety web site, www.boatingsafety.gc.ca

Q – What kinds of Safety equipment am I required to carry on board? Do I need flares?
A – Different types of vessels and vessels of different lengths require different safety equipment. Depending on size, type and where you boat, you may or may not require flares for example. The Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide can help you determine what you need for your vessel. Go to www.boatingsafety.gc.ca for a copy of the guide.

Q – How do I know what type of Personal Flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket is best for me and my Children?
A – There are many different types of PFDs and lifejackets on the market today. PFDs are different than lifejackets. To use inflatable PFDs for example, you must be at least 16 years of age and be wearing the inflatable. It is not legally recognized if it is not being worn. Inflatable PFDs my not be used for white water paddling or when operating a personal water craft (PWC). There are PFDs for paddle sports, operating a personal watercraft, high impact PFDs and specialty PFDS for children and infants. Make sure you have the right PFD or lifejacket for your type of boating, that they are in good condition and they are Transport Canada approved. Remember they only work when you are wearing them.

In Closing

It is said that knowledge is power and when it comes to boating you can never have too much of it. That knowledge can give you the confidence to really enjoy your boating experience and it can give others confidence in your abilities as a safe boat operator. The best trip is always a safe return trip.

If you have any specific boating safety related questions, please feel free to “Just Ask John” at jgullick@cps-ecp.ca