Inspections of Pleasure Craft  

Pleasure Craft Inspection, Enforcement Officials



The Canada Shipping Act 2001 specifies that Transport Canada can designate enforcement officers as pleasure craft safety inspectors. The designated individuals may include members of

  • the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • any harbour or river police force
  • any provincial, county or municipal police force
  • any person, or member of a class of persons designated to perform safety inspections

Officers designated to perform inspections will carry a certificate of designation as a pleasure craft safety inspector, issued by the Minister of Transport.

An enforcement officer may inspect a pleasure craft or any of its machinery or equipment for the purpose of ensuring compliance with pleasure craft regulations.

Enforcement officers have authority under the regulations to:

  • stop or board a pleasure craft at any reasonable time
  • direct any person to put into operation or cease operating any machinery or equipment on the craft
  • direct that the craft not be moved until the inspection is completed
  • direct any person to move the craft to a safe place if the officer or inspector has reasonable grounds to believe that it does not comply with requirements or regulations or exposes any person to serious danger, and direct that it not be operated until it meets those requirements or no longer exposes any person to serious danger
  • direct any person to move the craft to a safe place if the officer or inspector has reasonable grounds to believe that the operator does not meet the requirements of the regulations, and direct that the operator not operate it until the operator meets those requirements

The Canada Shipping Act 2001 requires that the owner or person in charge of a pleasure craft and every person on board

  • give an officer or inspector all reasonable assistance to enable them to carry out an inspection.
  • produce any document, or provide any information, that an officer or inspector may reasonably require, including proof of competency.

  Safety Equipment Requirements  

Minimum Required Equipment


Maintenance of Safety Equipment


Distress Equipment


The Small Vessel Regulations specify the mandatory safety and distress equipment that is to be carried by various watercraft.  There is also a requirement to maintain the equipment so that it is in good working order.

Details of the required equipment and maintenance is explained in the Mandatory Safety Equipment section of this course.

  Careless Operation  

  Requirement to Render Assistance  

Consideration of Other Persons



The Canadian Criminal Code prohibits operation of a pleasure craft in a manner that is dangerous to the public.   Additionaly, the Small Vessel Regulations require that "No person shall operate a small vessel in a careless manner, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons."

The Canada Shipping Act 2001 requires the master of any vessel to render assistance to every person who is found at sea and in danger of being lost.

If vessels collide, the person in charge of each vessel shall, where possible

  • render assistance to save them from any danger caused by the collision.
  • stay by the other vessel until the master or person in charge has determined that there is no need of further assistance.
  • give the name or licence number of their vessel, owner's name and address, and any other required information.

The assistance above will be provided only if it can be done without endangering the vessel, crew or passengers.

  Rules for Safe Navigation  

Maintaining a Lookout, Safe Speed


The Collision Regulations outline a number of Rules for safe navigation.

Rule 5,    Lookout

Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.

Rule 6,    Safe Speed

Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.   In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account:

  • the state of visibility
  • the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels
  • the manoeuvrability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability
  • at night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter of the vessel's lights
  • the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards
  • the draught in relation to the available depth of water

Every vessel passing another vessel or work that includes a dredge, tow, grounded vessel or wreck shall proceed with caution at a speed that will not adversely affect the vessel or work being passed.

Rule 9,    Rules of the Road,    Narrow Channels


A vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel or fairway shall keep as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable.

A vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.

Rule 20,    Display of Navigation Lights


This section describes the lights that will be displayed from sunset to sunrise and at times of restricted visibility.    See  Light Rules  for details of the lights required by your vessel under this Rule.

Rule 21,    Recognition of Navigation Lights

This section describes the various types of navigation lights, including

  • All-round light (white, red or green, 360 degrees)
  • Masthead light (white, forward, 225 degrees)
  • Sternlight (white, stern, 135 degrees)
  • Sidelights, Port (red, 112.5 degrees), Starboard (green, 112.5 degrees)
  • Towing light, (yellow, stern, 135 degrees)
  • Flashing light, (white, 120 flashes or more per minute)
  • Special flashing light, (yellow, forward, 50 to 70 flashes per minute)
  • Blue flashing light, (blue, 360 degrees, 50 to 70 flashes per minute)

These light types are explained in more detail in the Navigation Equipment section.

The operator is required to have navigational lights in good working order.

Rules 34 - 36,    Sound Signals


These rules cover the sound signals that should be used while manoeuvring or in conditions of restricted visibility.

See the sound signal table for details.

For boating safety you should be aware that sound signals exist to attract attention and signal a vessels attention.   You should be aware of the various signals used in fog and restricted visibility.

  Navigational Requirements  

Charts and Nautical Publications


The Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations require that a pleasure craft carry up to date charts and other navigation publications so that the operator may be aware of:

  • the location and character of charted shipping routes.
  • lights, buoys and marks.
  • navigational hazards.
  • prevailing navigational conditions, taking into account such factors as tides, currents, ice and weather patterns.

Marine charts are published by the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

The charts and publications are not required for vessels of less than 100 tons if the person in charge of navigation has sufficient knowledge of the above information such that safe and efficient navigation in the area where the vessel is to be navigated is not compromised.

The required charts and publications include:

  • the largest scale charts for the area to be navigated
  • the annual edition of the Notices to Mariners
  • sailing directions, published by the Canadian Hydrographic Service
  • tide and current tables, published by the Canadian Hydrographic Service
  • lists of lights, buoys and fog signals, published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • where the ship is required to be fitted with radio equipment, the Radio Aids to Marine Navigation, published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Topographic maps may be useful for areas not covered by marine charts, but they will not display below water depths or obstructions.

Magnetic Compass Requirement


The Navigation Safety Regulations require that a pleasure craft carry a steering magnetic compass.   This does not apply for vessels of eight metres or less in length that are navigated within sight of navigation marks.