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Answers to Common Boating FAQs

Posted Jul 15th, 2022 in Boat Insurance, Did You Know?, General, In the News, Insurance Tips, Media

Answers to Common Boating FAQs

If you’re new to owning or renting a boat, you probably have many questions that need to be answered! We’re bringing you the best answers to all of the most common boating questions so you can learn quickly and feel confident in your knowledge on your next boating day on the water!

What do you Call the Top of a Boat?

The top part of the boat that is on top of the hull and acts as the roof is called the deck. This is a spot on the boat that is mainly used to work or walking. Boats may have more than one deck.

 What are other Important Parts of the boat Called?
1.      Berth: The berth is the area of the boat where passengers sleep. This is also a spot at a marina or port where the boat may be docked in.

2.      Bilge: The bilge is the part of the boat that would rest on the ground if the boat was not on the water. The bilge is the lowest section of the boat and where water is collected. A bilge pump helps to collect excess water.

3.      Bow: The front section of the boat is called the bow. The left side of the boat is called the port, the right side is called starboard and the rear of the boat is called the stern.

4.      Foredeck: For boats that have multiple decks, the foredeck refers to the deck that is the furthest front.

5.      Galley: The galley is the kitchen area of the boat where food is prepared.

6.      Rigging: The rigging on a boat refers to the chains, ropes, and cables that are used to operate the boat’s sails, masts, and yards.

7.      Superstructure: On a watercraft, the term superstructure includes every part of the boat above the deck other than the rigging.

What is a Boat Slipway?

A boat slipway is a ramp that is used to transfer boats that are used to move boats to and from the water. 

Are Life Jackets Required on My Boat?

In Ontario, it is required for all boats to carry lifejackets or a personal flotation device for each person on board. This is not just for boats with motors but also includes canoes, kayaks, or any other human-powered boat as well. Even if the life jackets are located on the boat, in the event of an accident it can be difficult to get every person in a life jacket in time. You should ensure all passengers are wearing a life jacket at all times when out on the water for optimal safety.

Do you Have to Have a Horn on a Boat?

Within Canada, regulations require all boats and personal watercrafts that are 12 meters or less to have a sound signaling device, such as a horn or whistle. The signaling device must be able to be heard for a 1 ½ mile.

Boats that are more than 12 meters in length are required to carry a horn or a whistle, as well as a bell. As with boats, less than 12 meters, the sound signaling device must be able to be heard for ½ mile.

What do 1, 2, or 3 short blasts of a Boat Horn Mean?

1.      One short blast of a boat horn indicates that you will be passing the other boat on your left side, also known as the “port side.”

2.      Two short blasts mean you will pass them on your right, or “starboard side.”

3.      Three short blasts from a boat horn will communicate that you are backing up, which is also known as “operating astern propulsion.”

Which Side of the Boat do you Pass On?

If you are operating a power-driven vessel and are approaching a vessel without a motor, such as a sailboat, the vessel without a motor has the right of way.

If two power-driven vessels are approaching each other, the direction of travel and position of the vessels determine the rules for passing.

If another boat is approaching your boat from the port side, you have the right of way. If a vessel is approaching your boat from the starboard side they will have the right of way. If a vessel is approaching your boat for the stern, you have the right of way.  If a vessel is overtaking another vessel, the vessel in front always has the right of way.

What are Buoys Used For?

A buoy is a floating object that stays in place. It can be used to mark certain positions of hazards, submerged objects, guide other boats, or even to moor vessels instead of anchoring. Some buoys will have lights on them to help with nighttime navigation.

What are Channel Markers?

Channel markers help boats to navigate safely, by helping to avoid hazards, or to know which side of the hazard to pass on. Channel markers also show the sides of a navigable channel, as well as forks or a split in a channel. Channel markers or buoys are typically identified by their colour, shape, and number. On wide bodies of water, channel markers mark the safe centerline.


Channel marker buoys are typically green or red. 


 The channel markers have numbers to let people know how close they are to open water. The closer to open water, the lower the number.

Red buoys typically have even numbers on them, whereas the green buoys typically have odd numbers on them.


Red channel buoys are called nuns and will have a triangle shape. For channel buoys, the body of the buoy is tubular, with a cone-shaped top. Green buoys have a tubular base with a flat top.

What Side Should a Red Marker and Green Marker Buoy be on?
When you are boating up a river, keep the red buoys on your right (starboard). When you are boating downstream, keep the green buoys on your right.

Do I Need a Driver’s License to Drive a Boat in Ontario?

A driver’s license is not required to drive a boat. You are required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). This is for all powered watercrafts of any size with any size motor.

How do I Get a Boating License in Ontario?

You can get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) by passing the Canadian Boater Safety Course. You will need to study the online course material before completing the test. Once you have passed, you will print your temporary card until your card arrives in the mail.

How Much does a Boating License Cost in Ontario?

The Canadian Boater Safety Course costs $49.95.

Why do Boaters Need to Have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

A Pleasure Craft Operator Card shows that you understand the basic rules and know how to safely operate a boat on the water. You can obtain this card by taking a boating safety course and by passing the test at the end of the course.

How Long Does an Ontario Boating Licence last?

A Pleasure Craft License is valid for life.

What is the Fine for Operating a Powered Watercraft Without Your card?

If you are operating a powered watercraft and fail to carry your card, you will be fined a minimum of $250 plus additional administrative charges.

How Old do you Have to be to Get a Boating License in Ontario?

To operate a Sea Doo or Jet Ski, you must be at least 16 years old. If you are 12-16 and unsupervised, you may operate a boat with a motor up to 40 horsepower. If someone is under the age of 12 and has no direct supervision, they may operate a boat with up to 10 horsepower. There are no horsepower restrictions for those 16 years and older. 

What are Some of the Common Boating Offenses and Associated Fines?

Here is a list of dangerous boating offences that are considered criminal offences in Canada. These offences can result in various expensive fines or imprisonment.

1.     Operating a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

2.     Fail to stop and assist in the event of a collision

3.     Fail to comply with an enforcement officer

4.     Sending false distress signals

5.     Interfering with navigation aids

6.      Operating the boat in a way that is dangerous to the public (speeding, failing to slow down in poor visibility conditions, getting too close to other boats)

Other offences that result in fines:

1.     Operating a vessel underage ($250+)

2.     Altering, defacing or removing the serial number on a boat ($350)

3.     Operating in a careless manner ($350+)

4.     Failing to have boating safety equipment on board ($200+ $100 for every lifejacket/PFD that is missing)

5.     Failing to provide enough personal flotation devices/lifejackets for those on board ($200)

6.     Operating a boat without a working muffler in good condition ($250+)

7.     Operating a vessel without a pleasure craft operator card on board (250+)

In Ontario, to operate a boat or personal watercraft you must be at least 16 years old.

How Big of a Boat can you Drive with a Pleasure Craft License?

A Pleasure Craft License is required for all boats that have an engine of 10HP or more.

Can Passengers Drink on a Boat?

In Ontario, if passengers would like to drink on a boat, the boat must have a permanent toilet, as well as permanent sleeping and cooking facilities. The boat must also be docked or anchored. The person driving the boat must be sober at all times.

In Ontario, it is illegal to drink on a raft, canoe, or kayak.

Do I Need Boat Insurance if I Own a Boat?

In Ontario, boat and watercraft insurance are currently not mandated by law, however, if you store your boat or watercraft at a marina, they will likely require you to have boat or watercraft insurance. If you plan to finance the purchase of your boat or watercraft through a loan at a bank, they likely will want proof that the boat or watercraft is insured for the life of the loan. There are also many other important reasons why you should have a boat or watercraft insurance policy.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

Your boat or watercraft and the contents of your boat will likely be covered by most boat or watercraft insurance policies. These policies often include liability coverage for passengers as well. However, each policy will be different so it is important to speak with your Insurance Broker to know exactly what your plan will cover.

Here is a list of some of the most common coverages from boat or watercraft insurance:

- Coverage from weather

- Pollution/wreck removal

- Coverage from theft and vandalism

- Coverage from fire

- Medical costs and accident coverage for passengers

- Emergency towing

- Damage due to accidents

- Damage to furniture, sails, and motors

What is Not Covered by Boat And Watercraft Insurance?

After speaking with your Insurance Broker, you can be sure of the specific exclusions to your policy and can inquire about any necessary add-ons.

Here are some of the most common things a standard boat or watercraft insurance policy will not cover and that you may want to add to your boat or watercraft insurance policy:

- Damage while being stored

- Damage from pests or animals

- Geographical limits – insurance may only cover you in certain locations

If you plan to use your boat for watersports, make sure to speak with your Insurance Broker to see if your policy includes Watersports Liability coverage. 

What Will Affect My Boat or Watercraft Insurance Price?

- The size and length of the boat or watercraft

- The value of the boat or watercraft 

- The boat or watercraft's condition

-The horsepower of the boat or watercraft 

-How often the boat or watercraft will be used

-Where the boat or watercraft is stored

Can I Cancel My Boat or Watercraft Insurance in the Winter?

Although you will likely be storing your boat or watercraft in the winter, it is recommended that you maintain boat or watercraft insurance during these months. Some risks may result in insurance claims even in storage, so keeping your policy active in the winter can help in these situations. Theft, fire, and vandalism are all-year-round risks that can impact your boat or watercraft. 
If you were to cancel your insurance policy during the winter, you would be financially responsible for any damage that has occurred.

Youngs Insurance Brokers is proud to insure boats and watercrafts through our FLOAT boat and watercraft insurance program. Each boating insurance policy will be unique, so be sure to make sure you speak to your Ontario insurance broker to make sure your boat or watercraft insurance policy is specifically tailored to your needs.  

As a new boater, you may have more questions even beyond the ones we have answered here. Be sure to always do your research and understand what is required of you as the driver before heading out on the water so that you, your passengers, and others enjoying the water are safe.

Youngs Insurance Brokers offers custom Ontario boat & watercraft insurance to keep you a 'FLOAT' on the water. We insure bass boats, cruisers, fishing boats, personal watercraft, pontoon boats, small boats, small sailboats and yachts, 

Speak with your local Ontario insurance broker today to get a free insurance quote and to find the right protection and coverage for your boat or watercraft.

Speak with A Youngs Insurance Broker Today! » 


Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.

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