Boat with confidence on beautiful Georgian Bay …

Sign up for a Midland CPS Course on Using Charts and navigation basics

CPS offers different levels of classroom Boating Safety and Navigation courses at squadron locations across Canada.

You may also choose to simply buy our textbooks or download one of our new “e-books” and learn independently at home or while you’re on the go.

Visit our  CPS National website Course Calendar *, you can buy the textbooks, based on the type of courses as categorized in the menu to the left.

Look up available classroom courses on our the above link to our CPS National website’s course calendar, to find a course, the location, and to register online. Textbooks are included in the cost of the course.

* If you sign up for a course on our CPS National website, we need you to please send an e-mail to our Education Officer, Ken Lockhart - to ensure he’s aware of your enrolment.

On-the-water practical training is offered by the affiliated schools of Canadian Yachting Association (CYA), one of our partners in education.

Take a boating course to improve your boating safety knowledge, as well as vessel handling and navigation skills.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council Says …

It’s the law in Canada that operators of powered recreational boats must have a basic level of boating knowledge. Providers developed courses and tests and a proof of competency “card” was issued to those who successfully completed the test.

Called the Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card or PCOC, it is a first very small step towards acquiring the many skills and know-how needed to operate a motorized vessel in Canadian waters.

The PCOC was implemented for a number of reasons: there are nearly 16 million people boating in Canadian waters every year and that number is increasing. But there are also boating fatalities and boating accidents every year that are preventable.

The PCOC was created to provide some level of “basic” knowledge. Before the operator’s card existed, no boating course was required to operate a vessel in Canadian waters. Those boaters who undertook a course did so voluntarily through organizations like the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons.

But is the PCOC enough? Does it give a boater today sufficient skills to handle a pleasure craft safely in all kinds of water, weather and operating conditions?

Scott Miller, a co-ordinator with Maritime Search and Rescue at the Canadian Coast Guard, says the pleasure craft operator’s card is “the bare minimum in regards to education for boating”.

“It’s on long weekends that we get what we call ‘the scary crowd’ ”, says Miller. “These boaters will often encounter situations that they’ve never been in before he said. And they’ll come up woefully short on skills and knowledge.”

Miller says the Canadian Coast Guard strongly recommends that boaters take a proper boating course that provides training in things like boat handling, navigation, charting and other highly relevant, highly useful topics.

There is an all-too-common misconception that boats are pretty much like cars: you just get in, turn the key, accelerate and steer. That is where the similarity ends.

Emerson Fittipaldi, a former world champion race car driver once told an interviewer that he had considered becoming a boat racer when he was much younger. “But the track kept changing with every lap”, he joked.

What he meant was the surface of the water would grow rougher and rougher as boats churned up the course. And it doesn’t just happen on a race course. It happens each time that the weather changes, a result of local tide effects and everywhere there is moving water like in rivers.

What else changes from land to water?

For starters, how about something simple like steering your boat !   Many new boaters and even some that have had a bit more ‘sea time’ agree that a boat just doesn’t steer like their car. Without experience it is much more unpredictable and throw some wind, waves or current into the mix and often a boat seems like it has a mind of its own.  

Dealing with emergencies is another.

In Canada there are few ‘CAAs’ of the water.  

It’s just the boat operator and having to sort out the problem.

Signs are different as well.

There are no traffic lights but there are “traffic” signals. You need to be able to read those signals in order to respond properly.

The Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card covers many of the varied and numerous aids to navigation a boater can and will encounter, but it doesn’t teach a boater how to plot a course on a chart.

Why bother knowing that with all the modern technology
available today like Global Position System devices?  

Even operating a GPS needs instruction and sometimes they fail to work. A battery dies or an electrical fault occurs on board. Stuff does happen!

Being able to pull out a paper chart, a pencil and parallel rule and plot a course to safety is a priceless skill. It’s also a skill you won’t get through the PCOC.

Think of the Operator’s Card much like the simple driver exam in Canada. Some basic manoeuvres and situations are covered and a new driver is on the road.

Come the first snowfall - do you remember last winter? - and that new driver could very well be a dangerous driver because he or she was never tested on slippery roads, asked to correct a skid or demonstrate braking on an icy surface.

Yet every winter, those very scenarios occur almost daily.

The same sorts of water-based scenarios occur daily during boating season in Canada.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council and the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron want every boater to be as safe as possible on the water and we take the position that safety comes with knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the safer you and your family are.

The PCOC is a great first step but don’t stop there. Organizations like ours, part of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (, offer land-based, in-depth boating courses all the time. Also, there are sailing schools across the country, special courses for paddlers and other schools catering to special interests.

Give them a call at 1-888-CPS-BOAT or check them out on the Internet at

The more knowledge you have, the more enjoyable boating becomes.


Call Our Commander, Jim McLarty at (705) 549-1334, or our
Education Officer, Ken Lockhart at (705) 527-7768
Our Midland CPS volunteers have provided expert training
for over 60 years.

Page updated:
12 February 2020

Home Commander's Welcome Course Information Bridge Why Take Boating Courses? Peter Rudy's Model Ships  Free Vessel Check Training Officer News Newsletter Editor Benefiits of Membership Nautical Links Midland Partners History Midland Site Map CPS National Site Map

Sitemap | Contact Us | Confidentiality Policy | Privacy Notice | Legal & Copyright
Copyright 2020© through 2012© Midland Power and Sail Squadron. All rights reserved

Contact Webmaster to report issues and provide feedback.