| Jun 09, 2005


Legalese,June 9, 2005

Legalese June 9, 2005

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Boating Refresher 2005

In an effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities experienced by recreational boaters, new regulations under the Canada Shipping Act were introduced in 1999 to impose competency requirements for the operators of recreational boats. Boat operators, just like drivers of motor vehicles, are expected to be aware of the rules that govern their activities.

Test your knowledge of these rules and safety requirements with the following fun quiz. We apologize in advance for our legal sense of humour, but the questions (and answers) may help you pass the time when you are hung up on a shoal in an unfamiliar lake without your manual propelling device

1. The old expression up the creek without a paddle is not only a clear description of being in trouble, but is now also an offence in Canada. True or False?

2. A paddleboat under six metres in length isnt required to have a paddle as part of its boat safety equipment. True or False?

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3. Our American visitors must meet the same operator competency standards as Canadian boaters. True or False?

4. As you paddle out early in the morning to get to your favourite fishing spot before things get too hot you realize two things: (i) there is an unusually heavy early morning mist rising from the lake obscuring the shore line and the water around you, and (ii) your canoes battery has gone dead. Are you in trouble (of the legal variety)? Yes or No?

5. Your eager 11-year-old asks to take over the controls of your runabout with the old 9.9 hp motor. You will be sitting right there to take over if an iceberg appears can you hand over control? Yes or No?

6. A paddle and an anchor could be said to be legally equivalent under our safe boating rules. Yes or No?

7. Which of the following boats do not require a fire extinguisher as part of its minimum safety equipment requirements: a personal watercraft (seadoo type boats), a sailboat not over 6 metres in length, or a boat with an inboard motor, again not over 6 metres in length?

The Answers

There are only seven questions because the answers take up too much space. You should remember that in answers given by a lawyer, maybe is always an option.

1. If you are up that creek in anything but a paddleboat, you could be in for more trouble yet. With few exceptions the law requires that you set out with a manual propelling device: a paddle or oars. However, operators of Personal Watercraft are not caught by this requirement if all people on the craft are wearing an approved personal flotation device of appropriate size. If you dont have a paddle, an anchor may do See the answer to question #6.

2. True. But they are required to have other safety items including:

? one Canadian approved personal floatation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board,

? a sound signalling device or appliance and

? navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations if paddling after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.

3. Anyone born after April 1, 1983 must be able to prove that they are competent to operate a motor-powered boat (including personal watercraft). Americans and other non-residents who bring their own motor-powered boats have a period of 45 consecutive days during which they can enjoy our lakes and rivers without a obtaining a Canadian pleasure craft operator competency card. However, if they rent or charter a motor-powered boat or personal watercraft that is licensed or registered in Canada, proof of operator competency will be required. Operator cards issued by another country or state, or proof of having taken a required boating safety course in another jurisdiction, will satisfy operator competency requirements for foreign boaters. A completed boat rental safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats) will also do the trick.

4. Yes, as well as possibly going around in circles until the mist burns off it would appear that you also have a legal problem. If your battery is dead then you have nothing to power the navigation lights that you must have turned on because you are operating your canoe in a period of restricted visibility. Moonlight excursions are caught by the same rules: navigation lights as required by the federal Collision Regulations must also be turned on after sunset and before sunrise. People operating kayaks, non-motorized sailboats, and paddleboats are all covered by the same regulations, although small non-motorized craft less than 6m. as well as non motorized sailboats less than 7m., have some other lighting options including a water tight flashlight, electric light or lantern. The electrified canoe only in Canada, eh?

5. Yes, under your direct supervision your 11-year old can take over the controls of a powerboat with a motor of not more than 10 hp provided you have proof of your operator competency on board. Of course, if your 11-year old has successfully completed a Canadian Coast Guard accredited test, and thereby obtained his or her own operator card, your child could leave you cooling your heels on the shore while operating this class of powered vessel.

6. Yes. Only a lawyer could reach this bizarre conclusion, but this little quirk arises because most boats are required to have either a manual propelling device (a paddle or oars) or an anchor (and cable, etc.). As a result, the possession of either a paddle or the anchor both meet the same legal requirement and must therefore be seen as equivalent in the eyes of the law. But please, do not try to paddle with an anchor as it is not likely to be very effective and will undoubtedly hurt your back.

7. All three types of boats may need to have a fire extinguisher on board as part of the minimum safety requirements. The boat with the inboard motor must have the extinguisher, whereas a personal watercraft (PWC) only needs a Class 5BC fire extinguisher if all persons on the PWC are not wearing a Canadian-approved personal floatation device of appropriate size. An extinguisher is also a must for the sailboat if it has an inboard engine, a fixed fuel tank of any size, or a fuel burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance.

If our quiz raised questions or concerns about boating safety and the law (and we hope it did) then more information can be obtained by calling the Canadian Coast Guards Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687 or by visiting www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca.

By: Susan Irwin,

Lawyer/Executive Director

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