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Why Get a Boating License?

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Why Get a Boating License?

Boating is more enjoyable when you know how. Photo: Virgil Knapp

While it does cost a little bit of money, and takes a couple hours, the benefits are hard to ignore.

Even if you can't go boating right now, you can take the test and be ready!

If you’ve ever spent a summer in Ontario, you know that everyone loves to be out on the water—wakeboarding, fishing, paddling, cruising lakes and rivers by PWC, or just heading out for a sunset boat ride on a pontoon boat. 

Boating is life in this land of lakes, and with so many casual ways to get out on the water, it’s not surprising that not everyone has their license—but there are plenty of good reasons to get one, besides the legal ones. 

1. You Can’t Avoid Being on the Water Here

Ontario is the land of water—bordered by the Great Lakes to the south, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and many mighty rivers all around. The city folk rush out to the lakes on the weekends, and the country folk spend most of their time in, on or beside them. There’s no getting around it: if you live in, or are visiting Ontario, you’ll be around water—and the best way to enjoy it, is to feel safe and comfortable. 

2. It’s Kinda the Law

If you are running a boat with a motor in it, you need to have a boating license. There’s no two ways about it.

3. It Could Save Your Life (or the lives of others)

In the training you need to complete to get your license, there is some critical information that could make the difference between life or death when operating a boat. Probably the most crucial information is how to navigate when confronted with rapidly changing weather. The training prepares you for how to deal with capsizing, unmanageable waves, or a swamped boat. 

4. It’s Cool to know about Boats

Boats have been around for a long time—in fact, without them, we probably would still all be stuck on our own continents just dreaming about what’s happening on the other side of the world. And if current trends count for anything, boating is just getting more and more cool. 

Nice electric boat buddy, but you're still going need to have a license

So being a bona fide sea captain gets you extra street cred when you want to rock the sailor stripes or get an anchor tattoo. Also, people love friends with boats.

5. You’ll Learn Actually Useful Stuff

So, besides being able to react properly in emergency situations, there’s plenty of useful stuff in the license training. Like, which side of the boat if aft? On which side should you pass a boat that’s coming towards you? How do you properly overtake another boat so they don’t accidentally crash into you? How can dock your boat like a pro? All these questions and more will actually make boating more pleasant. So forget what you thought you knew, and just do the training.

Do you know which anchor is the most popular?

Think you’re ready now? Try out this practice test from Ace Boater and see how you do. You might be surprised with your results—I was!

6. It’s The New Thing to Do

Getting a boating license is a new requirement in Canada—but it’s important. I know, I know, a lot of people will say we’re getting too safety-crazy, and that life was simpler (and better) in “the good ol' days”—but the truth is, having more licensed boaters means safer waterways, which means fewer headlines about drownings, accidents, and mishaps. And once you get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card you’re good for life with no annual fees.

Boating has gotten safer over the years

7. You Can Avoid Fines

Getting a boating license is basically saving money—because the cheapest fine you can get for doing things wrong is $200. That’s more than double the cost of taking the test. On busy waterways there are more patrols, and it’s pretty easy to get a ticket if you’re not following the rules. 

Getting your boating license doesn’t have to be a chore—it’s always a good idea to know how to react in emergencies, and you’ll end up learning things that will improve your experience, even when you’re just out for a pleasure cruise. Plus, you’ll be the coolest person on a dock when you actually can bring the boat with some style.

Once you’re ready to get your licence—it’s easy to do and you can do it online—click on one of the providers below and they’ll help you get on the water:


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