The police rarely visit our lakes, but this does not mean we are somehow exempt from the regulations. And 'rarely' does not mean 'never': the OPP launched a small boat on Waseosa last Sunday and stopped several boats (including at least one canoe) to conduct safety checks before the rain started.
You must have, at a bare minimum, an approved lifejacket or PFD in good condition and of appropriate size for every person in the boat, a bailing bucket, a battery-operated watertight light (with working batteries!) or 3 approved marine flares, a floating throw rope and either a paddle, a set of oars or an anchor and a pea-less whistle or other sound-signaling device. A sailboard, paddle boat or water cycle is exempt most of the above if you are wearing the lifejacket or PFD and have a pea-less whistle.
In addition, if your boat is motorized, you must have a PCOC card or other proof of competency with you on board the boat. This applies to any motorized boat of any size, even a canoe with an electric trolling motor or a sailboat under power. There are no more age exemptions -- this applies to everyone, of any age.
The only exceptions are foreign residents who crossed the border WITH their boat less than 45 days ago, foreign residents who have a similar certification from their home state, persons who have certification from the Power Squadron or similar training from before the PCOC card was introduced and persons operating a rental boat who received a dock-side safety briefing. You must carry proof of entry, residency, training and/or the rental agreement in the boat with you at all times to qualify for an exemption.
Fines start at $250. They can also potentially seize your boat to prevent a recurrence of the offense.
Of course, the OPP is also looking for other infractions such as alcohol in the boat.
If you do not yet have a PCOC, get it now, before September. Changes coming in September mean you will no longer be able to challenge the test or take it on-line and the test itself will be getting longer and harder. To book an appointment to challenge the test at discounted rates through the LWRA, call Bill Somers (788-2015) or Dwayne Verhey (788-3693).