Friday June 25, 2010


Boater Beware

Deaths on the water numbers are up despite new licences

Craig Hill/Voice



his year spring was almost sunless and early summer is just teasing but it's bound to get better. Canadians are water lovers and the weather won't stop them.


How much do we love the water? The marine industry alone brings in $26-billion a                                                                                                 Craig Hill photo

year and a large chunk of             Ray Salloway (R) talks to St John Ambulance medic Saturday.  

that  number is from

recreational boaters.                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                              According to Ipsos Reid reports, this summer, 6-million sailboats and powerboats will be hitting waterways in Canada. Of those, two in five boaters are brand new to the activity and unfortunately, accidents are happening in higher numbers than ever before.

In an effort to stem the seasonal wave of accidents, in May 2009 the federal government enacted a new law requiring skippers of anything from a dingy to a derelict with a motor larger than 7.5 kw, be operated by someone trained in boating basics and in possession of Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).

The National Boating Fatalities Report shows the figures are very sobering and that on average 139 people die in boating accidents. Last year however that total was 200 plus another 6000 injured.

That was after the licencing was brought in. Oops, it's not a "licence."

Some boaters are inadvertently calling it a licence when in fact it's a certificate. However the process of getting a PCOC is similar to getting a driver's licence, sans the road test.


Without the certification people risk being fined $250 for the first offence. So if you have an accident and aren't carded then you will really be in deep water.


Oldtimers, who've been out on the water their entire lives, feel its a bitter pill because they've always operated their boats safely without a licence and that it's just a cash cow for the feds. Others say the licence system was brought in because of wild and crazy sea-doo'ers.



Booat owners will only have to go through the course and write the test once and there is no age limit which teaches kids and new boaters about the dangers and needed safety precautions. This is a very good thing.

It's unclear if the feds created the PCOC as a certificate as opposed to a "licence" system, to avoid having to provide the same public insurance coverage to boaters that provinces do now for car drivers.

The BC MVB No-Fault insurance covers drivers up to $150,000 for loss and extends to all family members, providing at least one person living in the household has a valid driver's licence. So, God forbid, if you or another family member are injured on the street then you're eligible for Part 7 of the benefits act even when out walking or riding a bicycle.

Last Saturday, Larry Nielsen and Ray Salloway, volunteer instructors from the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron, were at Cultus Lake surrounded by boats and talking with as many water sport enthusiasts as possible about boating safety.

Nielsen says that it doesn't matter how long people have been safe boaters, he guarantees there is something PCOC applicants don't know that he can teach them.

Licencing boaters won't save you or your kids from being injured falling off of a boat, but it will help families cope with medical and job loss costs.

Certificates don't do that either. Certificates are a brownie badge of honour. They didn't save any more lives last year.

Related Links

For information on boating regulations and safety visit the DFO website here

For information on the PCOC certificate visit the provincial website here.


Copyright (c) 2010 The Valley Voice   







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