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Tips for first time boaters in Ontario

Updated: May 2, 2023

Ontario is home to some of the most beautiful and expansive bodies of water in Canada. With over 250,000 lakes and countless rivers and streams, the province is a boater’s paradise. Whether you are a seasoned boater or a first-time adventurer, there are a few things to keep in mind before embarking on your boating journey. In this blog post, we will provide some tips for first-time boaters in Ontario to help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Get Familiar with Boating Regulations

Before hitting the water, it is important to familiarize yourself with boating regulations in Ontario. You can find all the necessary information on the Transport Canada website, which includes boating safety requirements, registration and licensing requirements, and speed limits on different bodies of water. Understanding these regulations will help you stay safe on the water and avoid any legal trouble.


Take a Boating Course

If you are new to boating, taking a boating course is highly recommended. The Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons offer courses that cover everything from basic navigation and safety to more advanced techniques. These courses will teach you the necessary skills to operate a boat safely and confidently.


Wear Life Jackets

One of the most important safety tips for boaters is to wear a life jacket. According to the Canadian Red Cross, over 80% of drowning victims in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. In Ontario, it is mandatory for all boaters to carry a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket for each person on board. Make sure to choose a PFD that fits properly and is designed for your intended activity, such as water skiing or fishing.


Check the Weather

Before setting out on your boating adventure, make sure to check the weather forecast. Ontario’s weather can be unpredictable, especially in the summer months, and sudden storms can create hazardous conditions on the water. If the weather looks uncertain, it may be best to delay your trip or choose a different activity.


File a Float Plan

Before leaving the dock, make sure to file a float plan with someone on shore. A float plan is a document that outlines your intended route, departure and arrival times, and other important details. If something goes wrong, this plan will help search and rescue teams find you quickly.


Pack the Essentials

Make sure to pack all the necessary safety gear and supplies before leaving the dock. This includes a first aid kit, emergency flares, a whistle, a fire extinguisher, and extra food and water. It is also a good idea to bring a map or GPS device to help you navigate unfamiliar waters.


Respect the Environment

Finally, it is important to respect the environment when boating in Ontario. This means following boating regulations to protect the natural habitat and wildlife, as well as packing out all garbage and leaving no trace. Respect other boaters and swimmers, and keep a safe distance from wildlife such as loons and turtles.


In conclusion, boating is an exciting and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experience levels. By following these tips for first-time boaters in Ontario, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. Always prioritize safety, respect the environment, and have fun exploring the natural beauty of Ontario’s waterways.


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