07.11.2010 07:37 AM

Float your boat

Randy Denley:


“As a safety program, the boater-licensing regime has more holes than a leaky rowboat. Even though boat owners must be licensed, unlicensed people who’ve never been in a boat in their lives can still rent them after filling out a safety checklist. Twelve-year-olds can operate boats of up to 40 horsepower, and can run bigger boats if they have a 16-year-old on board. Children under 12 can also operate boats up to 10 horsepower.”

(When I worked for him at the Ottawa Citizen, I didn’t ever argue with Randy, and I’m not about to argue with him now. But I had been under the impression that the new boat regs make it tougher for children to do what they once did on the water – which was, pretty much anything, no limits.)

In any event, Randy’s overall point is correct: Canada tolerates things taking place on the water that would never happen on the nation’s highways.

I have a laminated Pleasure Craft licence in my wallet. I got it last Summer. I was ten minutes early for a lunch with a Liberal friend, and I saw a boat-exam company had a booth nearby. I walked up, paid the fee, and did the exam. I got every question right, except one about sailing. I don’t sail.

I own two motor boats, however, and I try to be serious about safety. I don’t let anyone onboard unless they are wearing a life jacket at all times. Everyone has to stay in the seat they were assigned, and there’s no moving around mid-journey. And the stuff I regularly see on other boats – like open bottles of booze – are verbotten.

The craziest part about the new “rules,” in my opinion, is the rental thing. You can stagger up to a marina carrying a two-four, pretend to listen to the “safety checklist,” pay the rental, and then get handed the keys to a speedboat with a 300hp Merc. No questions, no problems.

There have already been a number of boat tragedies this Summer, and there’ll be plenty more before the end of August. Happens every year. Many of them could be avoided if Transport Canada got its head out its arse, and stopped treating the nation’s lakes and waterways like they were the Wild West.

Will they? I doubt it. The Harper Reformatories are libertarians more than they are conservatives. The only extra police activity they favour involves beating the Hell out of weird-looking people during the G20 weekend.

In the meantime, boating deaths and injuries will continue as before.

19 Comments

  1. smelter rat says:

    Trying to “idiot proof” the world is a mugs game.

    • Namesake says:

      Uh-huh. And there’s certainly no shortage of idiots.

      So there’s no point in trying to regulate the competence of boat renters to prevent this sort of thing then, eh, rat?

      http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Boat+crash+kills+Shuswap+Lake/3234866/story.html?tab=PHOT

      Tell you what: let’s do the same for car rentals then, rat. Let’s waive age & licensing & alcohol restrictions & let any ole yahooo rent muscle cars… but just in _your_ neighbourhood, until a car winds up in your living room after mowing down your kids playing outside. Say, where do you live again?

      • smelter rat says:

        A twelve page test and a boating test wouldn’t have prevented that accident. Nice try though.

        • Namesake says:

          Yeah, that’s really the point: the cause of that one accident, rather than the visual of it literally crashing into the houseboat’s living room to kill someone (which is why I used to illustrate my analogy).

          But about that analogy to speak to your claim that it’s a wast of time to enact safety regulations: tell us, where shall we start renting the muscle cars with no brakes to 14-year-old glue-sniffing FA-syndrome youth for $10 a day in your neighbourhood (so we can stay clear of it)?

          • smelter rat says:

            Is that what I said? Ever thought of getting help for your anger issues?

          • Namesake says:

            true, you didn’t actually _say_ “there’s no point in trying to regulate the competence of boat renters”:

            you just _implied_ it in this context, when you set down a platitude so chipped it drew blood before it even reached the table.

          • smelter rat says:

            Help me understand how more regulation will help. Then explain how to practically enforce what we have now, never mind how to do it in the uber-nanny state you seem to desire. Tens of thousands of people boat all the time in this country, some for pleasure, some because that’s how they make their living, or how they get to their cottages. Many of them boat on remote lakes where the odds of seeing another person on the water is next to nil. The actions of a few has resulted in yet another bureaucracy that will do squat to save us from their actions. If the population really wants something to be done about this problem, they’ll have to pay for proper enforcement, not more mickey mouse testing.

          • Namesake says:

            Who’s talking ‘uber-nanny state’? All WK called for was some new licensing regs to cover boat rentals, to make sure people taking out boats over 10 h.p. aren’t doing so for the first time… like the way people who rent cars have to have a valid driver’s license & insurance, & people who rent snorkelling gear have to demonstrate they know how to swim. And the costs of enforcing that would be at least partially recovered from fees from the ones who profit from such formerly irresponsible rentals.

      • Iris Mclean says:

        Namesake does seem to have anger issues, but thankfully, his/her weapon of choice so far is just a keyboard.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    Thanks so much for posting this. Another related problem: boaters who are out of their league (like my late father) but for the grace of God, would have been in serious trouble. Here’s our story: as kids, the family took the motorboat to the lake and enjoyed ourselves. In those days, the kids wore the life jackets but not the adults. Good way to drown your parents! One day, my Dad decided to tackle the St. Lawrence River south of Quebec City. As we embarked, the tide/current decided to push us into the rocks. Cottagers came off their balconies to the rescue and paddled us to safety. Dad learned a valuable lesson that day. Never hit the river again but continued to have plenty of fun on the lake.

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    W,

    Unrelated but now that you’ve got me going, I’ve developed a full head of steam: between the feds, provinces and territories, mediocrity in matters of safety continues to be the order of the day. Where are the mandatory helmet laws for cyclists?; ditto for all skiers and skaters of every description.

    And my personal favourite: mandatory life jackets for snowmobilers. How many geniuses go through the ice in spring and sink like a stone for their trouble. (Reminds me of those IQ challenged people who leave loaded guns hanging around so brother can shoot sister or vice-versa — or even more incredibly, so the exotic pet can snack on baby for lunch. Apparently, we are all born with brains, or so they tell me. But I digress.)

  4. allegra fortissima says:

    I do sail.

    A strong breeze is always fun – and safe, too – provided you know how to “reef”.

    Once the sails are lowered the crew sits on the high side of the boat – but not so far out as to inspire that chilling call “Man Overboard”. But then, every good sailor has capsized at least one time in his life…

    And yes, all this is happening without those open Glenfiddich bottles sailors are famous for, that is “verboten” indeed (one “t” please). We enjoy them once were back onshore.

    You failed in answering the question about sailing, Warren… I wonder what that was all about. The “Handling” maybe?

  5. Cam says:

    And how many years has Harper been PM?

    Stop with the lamentable Liberal admonitions. You’re really an old, worn-out record.

    Cam

  6. Namesake says:

    This just in: 3 boating deaths just this weekend in BC:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/three-die-in-separate-boating-accidents-in-bc/article1636656/

    incl. a teenage girl who was sitting on the bow of a speedboat, fell off, & got run over by it:

    http://www.cknw.com/Channels/Reg/NewsLocal/Story.aspx?ID=1251286

    And the Globe reports, “About 200 Canadians die in accidents on the water each year, with another 6,000 suffering non-fatal injuries.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/sense-of-responsibility-sinks-at-nations-shorelines/article1635319/

    But as long as they’re not breaking any (lax) laws yet, the Lawn Order libertarian types don’t seem to care.

  7. allegra fortissima says:

    A laminated Pleasure Craft license alone won’t do it – no doubt.

    I can only speak for “safe sailing” now – a White Sail III Certificate, issued by the Canadian Yachting Association, should be mandatory. Even more comprehensive are the ISPA Competent Crew Sail and Competent Day/Coastal Skipper courses.

  8. Ariella says:

    I know of at least one provincial Liberal who did something about it.

    http://www.searoom.com/drinking.html

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