Acts, Regulations, and Code

All operators of pleasure craft must comply with the following acts, regulations and code. The operator of a pleasure craft who does not comply with these acts, regulations or code could be subject to penalties or fines.

  1. Canada Shipping Act 2001
  2. Contravention’s Act
  3. Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations (VORR)
  4. Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations
  5. Collision Regulations
  6. Small Vessel Regulations
  7. Criminal Code of Canada


When on board, the operator must keep watch for any signals that indicate distress and/or the need for assistance from others. Providing there is no serious danger to one’s own boat and the persons on board, all operators are required to assist any person found at sea and/or in danger of being lost. Operators also have an obligation to stop and offer assistance when their own boat is involved in an accident. Failure to stop at the scene of a collision is a punishable offence.

If someone is being towed, (i.e. water skier, tuber etc.) he or she must be adequately watched by someone in the boat other than the boat driver. Towing someone after dark (sunset to sunrise) is strictly prohibited. A person(s) being towed is considered as being on the boat. This means all the rules that apply to persons on the boat also apply to the person(s) being towed. Aseat must also be available in the boat for the person(s) towed. This means that any boat (including a PWC ) must seat at least three (3) people if someone is going to be towed: one for the boat operator, one for the person being towed, and one for the person keeping watch on the person being towed.

Driving a boat after drinking alcohol is illegal and punishable under the Criminal Code. The same basic rules covering operation of automobiles and alcohol and drug use all apply to boat operation. Careless or reckless driving of boats is also an offence. Alcohol and drug related boat operation is a common cause of on-water incidents and fatalities. Operating a vessel while disqualified is an offence and could lead to fines or possible imprisonment.

No one on a boat is permitted to send false messages, such as false distress calls. “Making fast” or attaching a boat by lines to any signal, buoy or other sea-mark used for navigation purposes is also prohibited, as this could interfere with marine signals. In addition, signals, buoys or other sea-marks used for navigation purposes are not to be removed, concealed or altered in any way. No one should operate a vessel in such a manner that it endangers their life or anyone else’s life. Remember there are legal and safety responsibilities for all boaters.