July 27, 2016

Canada’s Age & Horsepower Restrictions for Boaters

Getting on the water and being the Captain of your own boat is one of Canada’s most exhilarating summer activities, especially as a young boater! Plus, it’s pretty awesome teaching the kids how to drive the boat or personal watercraft (PWC) for the first time!

The best part about boating in Canada is that people of all ages can get their Canadian boating license, including kids! However, there are three categories of age and horsepower restrictions for boaters, and these categories are based on the horsepower strength of the engine and the age of the young boater. It’s a good thing – preventing a 6-year-old from operating a big, fast boat is definitely a good thing!

So here’s how it works:

The three categories include boaters who are:
1) Under 12 years of age
2) Between 12 – 15 years of age
3) 16 years of age and older

Let’s dive into the details and get you prepared for this summer on the water!

Under 12 years of age?

You may operate a boat without supervision if:
– You have proof of competency
– The engine is not more than 10 hp

It’s a great idea to teach these young boaters how to operate a small motorized boat in an open area. Be sure to use a kill switch cord in case of an accident, ensure everyone is wearing their lifejacket, and that all the boat safety gear is in the boat.

age and horsepower restrictions for boaters ages 12 and under

12 to 15 years of age?

You may operate a boat without supervision if:
– You have proof of competency
– The engine is not more than 40 hp

Teaching a teenager to be the new Captain of the cottage boat is always exciting! Since the allowance for horsepower is much higher for these boaters, we suggest learning in a wide-open area of the lake where you can safely and responsibly maneuver the boat. Don’t forget the lifejackets!

age and horsepower restrictions for boaters aged 12 to 15

16 years of age or older?

You may operate any recreational boat without supervision, including a personal watercraft, so long as you have proof of competency.

If you’re teaching a person in this age and horsepower category to drive the boat, and they already have some basic knowledge of boat operation, you can move into more advanced skills like docking, launching, and towing.

age and horsepower restrictions for boaters aged 16 and older

Age and horsepower restriction exceptions:

The age and horsepower restrictions do not apply so long as the boat operator:
– Is carrying proof of competency on board AND;
– Is supervised by a person 16 years of age or older, who is also carrying proof of competency

age and horsepower restrictions exceptions

Note: Boat operators who are under 16 years of age may not operate a PWC under ANY circumstances, even if supervised.

Read: 6 Things to Remember on a PWC

Now that you’re aware of the age and horsepower restrictions for boaters in Canada, you’re one step closer to becoming a Captain and getting your Canadian Boating License!

Have a great boating photo? Tag us on Instagram and Twitter at @boatsmart for a chance to be featured!

Happy boating!

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