Buck up and get boating licence

Things changed dramatically for boaters on all Canadian waters last September with the implementation of the new law that requires all boaters operating a powered watercraft to possess a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, also known as a boating licence.
Right or wrong, this is the law and if caught operating a vessel without a licence, all boaters face a $250 fine.
I spent the past weekend helping to get people hooked up with their boating licences in the parking lot at Canadian Tire in Kenora and overall it went pretty well.
To get their licence, boaters must take a 36-question exam and to pass they need to score 75 percent.
This past weekend in Kenora, everybody who took the exam passed. There were manuals on site that people could study before the exam and this was helpful for most.
The good thing about taking the exam is that people do not have to pay for it unless they pass, so there is little pressure taking it.
Most of the questions are common sense and with a little bit of studying, people should have nothing to worry about.
Talking with hundreds of people over the weekend, it was interesting to hear some thoughts on the licence implementation. There definitely was some positive feedback from folks who believe that passing the boating exam will make people more responsible on the water—and there is little doubt that it will.
That is the purpose of the licence. It is not designed for people who have a lot of experience boating, but more for people who are new to it.
Unfortunately, everybody is affected.
There also was a significant amount of negative feedback about the boating licences, of which I do understand. Many folks were upset that they have been operating a boat for many years on Sunset Country waters without incident and now they need to get a licence.
I do sympathize with these people because for many, the cost and the stress of taking the exam probably is something they could do without.
One fellow told me he has been driving a boat on Lake of the Woods for more than 60 years, but has decided that he’s not going to drive anymore because he does not believe that he needs a licence to do it.
Hard to argue that one.
Other people believe the boat licensing system is a money grab by the federal government and it is hard to argue that one, as well. Beyond that, there are more than six million boaters in Canada and anything that negatively affects people getting out and enjoying time on the water is going to have significant impacts on our economy.
The purchase of gas, oil, fishing and boating equipment, and even boats all has positive impact.
I do not believe there would be nearly the same outcry from people if there was no cost associated with the licence, so why not make the exam free of charge as long as people pass?
Regardless, the law now demands that people obtain the Pleasure Craft Operator Card to operate any vessel to include boats of all sizes and personal watercraft.
What I can tell people is that the test is not something they need to be afraid of. As mentioned earlier, anybody who spends a little bit of time studying will not have a problem passing.
The exam is not designed so that people have an extremely tough time with it. It is designed to minimize accidents and create awareness on the water, and that is something we all can benefit from.
Once you have the card, you have it for life, so my advice is to just buck up, take the exam, and get the card. Once you have it in your possession, you quickly will forget the cost and you will be more confident and responsible on the water.
BoaterExam.com will have a tent set up at Canadian Tire in Kenora again this weekend, and at the Canadian Tire in Fort Frances in the coming weeks, for people looking to get their boating licence.

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