Take stock of your boat's safety equipment

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on March 10th, 2021

Winter is when boaters think longingly of getting back on the water.

Whether it’s to plan this year’s upgrades or dream about summertime destinations, there’s not a long list of hands-on projects that can be undertaken unless you have a workshop.

But there are a few things you can do. You can brush up on your skills by taking an online or virtual course with a group such as the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, an organization that has provided boating safety courses in Canada for more than 80 years. For a small fee, you can become a member and have access to additional boating safety instruction beyond the initial instruction of the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). An example would be a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) – something that anyone operating a marine radio is required to have by law. Another valuable resource is the Canada Safe Boating Council.

The PCOC is proof of competency that shows you have basic boating safety knowledge. It is achieved by taking the boater safety course online and passing the Transport Canada test with a mark of 75 per cent or higher. It is mandatory for anyone that operates a power-driven vessel, but once achieved it does not need to be renewed annually.

Among some of the basic boating information is what minimum safety equipment watercraft of various types and sizes need to have on board to comply with Transport Canada requirements. Now is a good time to make sure all that is in order, especially considering things like pyrotechnic signaling devices (including aerial flares and hand-held signals) expire four years after their manufacturing dates. Another example would be fire extinguishers which, depending on the type, have a lifespan of six to 12 years. As a result, they should be inspected routinely to ensure they are in good working order.

Minimum safety requirements

Let’s review one of the more popular sizes of vessels and what they are required to carry. These minimum safety requirements apply to all watercraft including human-powered (stand-up paddleboards, paddleboats, kayaks, etc.), personal watercraft, sail, and powerboats. In the case of this example, it is a powerboat ranging in size from 19.8 to 29.6 feet. There are additional notes regarding these requirements included in the Safe Boating Guide, where you can also find the minimum safety requirements for other sizes of vessels. Download the guide here.

Here’s what you would need in this case:

  • One lifejacket or PFD of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One reboarding device
  • One buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long OR one lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long
  • One watertight flashlight
  • Six flares of Type A, B, C, or D, only two can be Type D.
  • One manual propelling device OR One anchor and at least 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope, or chain in any combination
  • One bailer or manual bilge pump
  • One sound-signalling device or appliance
  • Navigation lights
  • One magnetic compass
  • One radar reflector
  • One 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor
  • One 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating, or refrigerating appliance

One of the other things a boater should have is the proper insurance. While boat insurance is not mandatory in Canada, it can cover damage, liability, and other unforeseen events. Marinas will likely require the boat owner to carry a certain amount of liability insurance. When it’s time to launch your boat, you want boating insurance specialists on your crew.

HUB SmartCoverage’s Pleasurecraft Program features agreed value and all-risks hull and machinery coverage, rescue, protection for accidental discharge of fuel or chemicals, the right liability coverage, and more. Discounts are also available for operators who have completed accredited boating safety courses. When it’s time to enjoy the water, do so with confidence.

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