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What does my uncle need to rent 'a small boat with an outboard motor', as suggested in this helpful answer? Even if not required legally, should my uncle seek any extra training or instruction in person, just for his benefit? Does the law really require only the Official Pleasure Craft Operator Card? This card's online status and offering of free retries make it seem lax and deficient, especially for a complete novice satisfying these important assumptions:

  1. I use 'isle' to mean the minuscule islands in my uncle's areas of interest, such as Algonquin Park, Muskoka, and along Georgian Bay (I exclude the Thousand Lakes region because most of its isles are private).

  2. Intending only to explore small isles and to see interiors inaccessible by car, my uncle purposes to boat only where he sees isles or land; he opposes navigating open waters.

  3. My rational uncle can swim, and vows always to wear lifejackets and to renounce alcohol, but has no experience whatsoever with boating (motorised or not) or canoeing or kayaking.

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Legally speaking, yes, if you have the Ontario Pleasure Craft Operator license you can rent and operate a boat in Ontario waters. The requirements to get the card are indeed pretty minimal - a knowledge of safety regulations and some basic boating is all that is required, and given the nature of the test you don't even need to remember that for very long. In some cases you can even rent without that - those from outside Ontario can be given "temporary operators cards". This may seem like a lax system, but it replaces one in which there were no requirements at all to operate a boat.

Many thousands of people rent and operate small boats in Ontario and elsewhere with no safety issues at all. Your uncle seems to have the right idea of sensible precautions - wear a lifejacket, stay close to shore, stay in an area where you can summon help if you need it, watch for other boat traffic. The boat provider will almost certainly give you as much advice and training in operation as you need to feel comfortable - they want their boat back after all. Oh, and don't drink alcohol. Not only is it a major cause of boating accidents, but you can also be prosecuted for drinking and boating and have your driving license taken away. Carrying open liquor in a boat is also an offence, so leave the beer at home.

  • +1. Thank you as always. I added the ordinary, normal renouncement of alcohol, but please advise me of any more help or training that may aid my uncle. This license really seems too minimal... – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Oct 27 '15 at 23:25
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    If you really want to be a competent boater, check out Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, which offer comprehensive boating courses ranging from "boating basics" to "offshore navigation". There are squadrons in most big towns. A lot of places will also offer specific canoeing courses - check your local outdoor store. – DJClayworth Nov 16 '15 at 18:17

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