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Just Ask John

John Gullick fields many of the calls for information that come to CPS-ECP National Office in Toronto. He has agreed to share some of the questions and his responses with you. For questions not answered here, just ask !
Check out John's CPS-ECP YouTube tips.

Who needs a Boating License or PCOC?
As of September 15, 2009, all operators of a motorized pleasure craft must be able to demonstrate proof of competency.
Where can I get my Canadian Boating License or Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)?
CPS is a non-profit organization that offers the Pleasure Craft Operator Card in locations across Canada or Online.
Is the CPS-ECP Pleasure Craft Operator Card any different from the others?
Yes. The CPS-ECP PCOC courses and tests are the only ones approved by both Transport Canada and The US National Association of Boating Law Administrators. As such the CPS-ECP PCOC Card is the only one officially recognized in both the US and Canada. US States may choose to recognize other PCO Cards but they are not obliged to do so unless they have received individual NASBLA approval.
Is the PCOC the only certificate that I need to operate a powered pleasure craft in Canada?
Officially yes, but CPS believes that most operators of recreational vessels need to know more. For example, how to leave and return to a dock under different wind conditions, how to anchor a vessel properly, how to use locks, the use of environmentally friendly boating practices, how to trailer a vessel and the differences between canoes, kayaks, personal watercraft, sailboats and all kinds of powered vessels.

I have just received my Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) from CPS-ECP. Am I required to have it with me when I am operating my personal watercraft?

Regulations state that you are required to carry the PCO Card with you while operating any powered vessel and produce when requested to do so by any law enforcement officer. They will also usually ask for some sort of photo ID as well. The fine for not carrying your PCO Card is $250 plus local expenses which can raise the amount to over $300. By September 15, 2009 all operators of a motorized pleasure craft will need to carry a PCO Card.
Our sailboat is kept downtown Toronto, and I have a Harbour Licence, but not a PCOC. Is the Harbour Licence enough to satisfy the police should they pull us over for a spot check in the dinghy, or on the sailboat? If I need to get the PCOC, how do I go about doing that?
Also, my friend has the PCOC, but not a Harbour Licence… again, to satisfy the marine unit, would he also need the Harbour Licence? How would he get the Harbour Licence?
Harbour Licence will do if it was first issued prior to April 1, 1999 but the regulations clearly state that if you can't show proof of having taken a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999 then you have to have a PCOC. A Toronto Harbour Licence issued after April 1, 1999 does not meet the current regulations so you would have to also get a PCOC.
Where do I go to get a Vessel License and/or transfer ownership of my vessel?
Transport Canada has contracted with Service Canada to manage the vessel licensing system. You can go to any one of 320 Service Canada offices across the country.
What information do I need to license my vessel?
You need a bill of sale. If the vessel has already been licensed you will also need the vessel license signed off by the original owner.
Do I need to carry the vessel license on board my vessel?
Yes. The law requires that you carry a copy of the vessel license 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. Do not laminate it as you have to be able to assign it to a new owner if you sell your vessel.
Do I need an Operators’ Certificate to use a VHF radio?
Yes, anyone who operates a VHF or MF radio using Marine frequencies, including a handheld, requires a Restricted Operators’ 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 of an instructor/examiner near you contact your local CPS Squadron or the national headquarters.
Do I need a station License for my VHF radio?
If you are operating your VHF radio, including a handheld, on a Canadian vessel in Canadian waters - No. If you travel into international waters, including US waters, the answer is - Yes.
We live in Ontario, Canada and are thinking of purchasing a 70ft houseboat from the US. A couple of questions have come to mind…

Do we have to have a licence other than the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) for a boat that size?

If we were to bring the boat, by water from the US into Canada do we require any other licence?

To operate the vessel only the PCOC will be required. You will obviously need the proper completed paperwork for crossing into Canadian waters and if there is a VHF radio you will need a ROC(M) to operate it. You would also need a VHF Station Licence to travel into Canadian waters but since it will still be a US registered vessel until you get it here that Station Licence will have to be a US one. Nothing else required.

Where do I get a Station License?
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.
I just passed my course Maritime Radio Course and was advised that I should carry a copy of Canadian Radio Aids to Navigation. When I asked my instructor, a student piped up and said it was on the Internet and I could just print it off there. I can’t find it. Could you please help?
What you are required to carry on board is the list of marine radio frequencies for VHF Radio and their allocated use. This list, which was referred to as the RIC 13, is contained in your student manual, the Maritime Radio Course. If you Google RIC 13 you will find it as schedule 1 of Spectrum Management’s RBR 2. For general information you can also Google: Radio Aids to Marine Navigation 2007. All these documents are available for download.
I am a Registered Examiner for the Restricted Operator’s Certificated (Maritime) ROC(M) and I was sure that somewhere I read that if you had a old ROC(M) without the DSC endorsement, that was valid for life according to Industry Canada. Even if you are using a DSC radio, you are not required to obtain the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) endorsement. I searched last night and could not find the answer.
You are correct. The old ROC(M) without the DSC Endorsement is still “Good for Life” and it is currently not required to get the endorsement. However, anyone who takes the Maritime Radio course now and challenges the current ROC(M) exam must challenge the whole exam including the DSC portion. Anyone who holds an older version of the ROC(M) without the endorsement may, if they choose, challenge the DSC Endorsement and upgrade their card but, as I said, this is not a requirement.

When cruising in European waters or the Caribbean on my own or a rented vessel, is there an International Certificate of Operator Competency available in Canada?

Yes. In Europe there are multi-level Certificates of Operator Competency that are acquired by successfully completing both theoretical and practical on-the-water tests. In Canada there are a number of schools that offer International Yacht Training Inc. courses that are recognized in Europe and the Caribbean. For a list of IYT schools go to: iytworld.com and click on Canada. There are also a few schools associated with the Canadian Yachting Association that offer international courses from the Royal Yachting Association that are recognized in Europe and the Caribbean. For information contact your Provincial Yachting Association. Currently there are no formal cross recognition agreements between Canada and European or Caribbean countries.

Interestingly, some Canadian cruisers who have been challenged in both the Mediterranean and Caribbean waters and asked to show proof of Operator Competency have had their Pleasure Craft Operator Cards accepted even though they represent a level of proficiency far below the International standards. It seems to be the official Canadian Government logo on the PCO Card that does the trick.

How do I know what type of Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or lifejacket is best for me and my children?
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. 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 and remember they only work when you are wearing them.
What kinds of safety equipment am I required to carry on board? Do I need flares?
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. CPS can help you determine what you need for your vessel; show you how the safety equipment works and how to maintain it in good operating order.

We are planning on spending some time in the North Channel. We are wondering about flares. What are flare types A B C and D? What should we get and where do we get these flares?

The types of flares are as follows:

A) Parachute flare – single red star reaches a height of 300 metres or 984'. These are easily observed from surface or air and burn for at least 40 seconds.

B) Multi Star flare – two or more red stars that reach a height of 100 metres or 328'. These are easily observed from surface or air and burn for at least 4 or 5 seconds each. Note: some star flares contain only a single star and at least two must be fired every 15 seconds. Two stars in combination meet the requirement for a single flare.

C) Hand Held flare – red torch flare held by hand with limited surface visibility. These are best for pin pointing the location from the air and burn for at least a minute. Point down wind and avoid looking directly at the flare. They are very hot!

D) Smoke (buoyant or hand held) – produce dense orange smoke for at least 3 minutes. Use only as a daytime signal. Some are produced especially for pleasure craft use, come in a package of three and they burn for 1 minute each. Point or toss overboard downwind.

All types of flares can be purchased from any chandlery and I would suggest at least 1 D, 1 C and 4 B to meet the minimum requirement of six flares for vessels 6–8 meters (19.8'–26.3'). For 8–12 meters you will need a combination of 12 flares.
In vessels over 6 metres in length you are exempt from carrying the required number of flares ONLY if you are operating in a river, canal or lake in which you can at no time be more than a nautical mile (1.852 kilometers) from shore. If you have the ability to leave that body of water and enter another where you could be more than a nautical mile from shore then you must carry the required number of flares. For more information order the Distress Signalling DVD.

I am a new member with a new (used) boat. I understand that my membership and graduation from the Boating and Maritime Radio courses could help with my boat insurance. How does this work? Is there a specific company that we deal with?

When I bought the boat last summer I went with Dolphin Insurance in Vancouver, not having taken the CPS-ECP Course at that time.

Our CPS-ECP Member insurance is with Cowan. Dolphin is an agent for them so you can go back to Dolphin and inquire about boat insurance through Cowan. As a CPS Member they should offer a discount up to about 25% depending on your needs and any additional equipment such as GPS, VHF, and Depth Sounder. For more info you can log on to our web site and look under Member Services. There you will find our detailed benefits and corporate access codes.