Safety Equipment Requirements
You must have the right equipment on board. If something goes wrong on the water, you will be much better prepared to deal with it if you have the right equipment on board, if it is in good working order and if everyone can find it and use it. Remember that the best protection you can give yourself on the water is to always wear your lifejacket or your PFD.
All safety equipment on board must be:
In good working order;
Always easy to reach (so that it can be used in an emergency); and
Maintained and replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or recommendations.
In Canada, the safety equipment required on board depends on the type and length of your boat. You can find the length of your boat:
By reading the manufacturer’s product information; or
By measuring it yourself (from the front outside surface of the hull shell to the back outside surface of the hull shell – bow to stern).
REMEMBER: These equipment requirements apply only to pleasure craft and are the same whether you own, rent or borrow the boat. This includes typical boats like power boats, sail boats and personal watercraft, as well as less common boats like airboats, air cushion vehicles (hovercraft) and wing in ground effect vessels that are used only for recreation. They also apply when using kiteboards.
These requirements do not apply to inflatable self-propelled water toys. These toys are not designed for use in open water. If you do choose to operate these toys in open water, enforcement officers will treat them as pleasure craft that are subject to the same strict rules.
Operating a remote-controlled vessel and a propeller-driven surfboard is against the law in Canada.
Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements
The following list names the minimum safety equipment required on board a pleasure craft. You may want to bring more equipment based on your type of boat, your activity and the current and forecasted weather and water conditions. Once you know the equipment you must carry on board your boat, read the following sections so you can get specific information about each piece.
Note 1 – Reboarding Device
A reboarding device is only required if the vertical height that a person must climb to reboard the boat from the water (freeboard) is over 0.5 m (1’8”).
Note 2 – Flares
Flares are not required for a boat that:
is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than one (1) nautical mile (1.852 km) from shore; or
has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition.
Note 3 – Bailer and Manual Bilge Pump
A bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or a boat that has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible.
Note 4 – Navigation Lights
Navigation lights are only required if you operate the boat after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility (fog, falling snow, etc.).
Note 5 – Magnetic Compass
A magnetic compass is not required if the boat is 8 m (26’3”) or less and you operate it within sight of navigation marks.
Note 6 – Radar Reflector
Radar reflectors are required for boats under 20 m (65’7”) and boats built of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if:
the boat is used in limited traffic conditions, daylight and favourable environmental conditions, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to the boat’s safety; or
the small size of the boat or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install or use a radar reflector.
REMEMBER: Boating laws change from time to time, so make sure you have the most current information. If the SAFE BOATING GUIDE differs from the regulations, remember that it is always the current regulatory text that applies.