I generally have little complaint about licensing when there's a standard of competence. You can't get a driver's license without passing a test, nor should you. And I don't want to fly with a pilot who hasn't passed several exams.
On the other hand, I got my PCOC after 15 minutes of reading the book, in a booth at the Toronto boat show
. I'm not sure that makes me a better or safer sailor. I guess I at least know there are certain bits of safety equipment
I'm meant to have and that I should keep a red buoy on the right going into harbour.
I'm not sure I understand the fuss, either way.
I paid my $20 (or whatever), got the PCOC, and never have to think about it again. No biggie.
I rather think the current
PCOC is intended to be the thin edge of the wedge, so that once we're all used to the idea, the government
can start making it harder to pass the test and thereby improve boating
And considering what you see in a week on the lake, that might not be a bad idea.
For example, we sail out of the Toronto Hydroplane and Sailing Club, which has a relatively narrow (and buoyed) channel. We share the channlel with another yacht club and a public dock
This summer a couple of guys popped their powerboat in the water
off the public dock
, ignored the buoys completely, and roared directly out of the bay -- or they would have done, but for the barely submerged sandbank that lies across two-thirds of the channel.
Smack! They were aground for a couple of hours and eventually had to be towed off by the cops and our safety
Maybe if they'd been required to take a serious boating
course and get a license it wouldn't have happened.
What's more annoying is the Toronto Harbour license, which added only one thing to my "knowledge" (speed limits in parts
of the inner harbour) and which I have to renew every year. I need it for the 10 minutes of every sail when I'm under power in and out of the club. Once my motor's off, it no longer applies. I have heard it described as a "cash grab."
On the whole terrorists in small boats issue (this addressed to the group in general) wasn't the USS Cole blown up by a small boat packed with explosives? Not in North American waters, true, but you can see why the US Navy
is nervous about small boats and why you can't get within a certain distance without a reaction.
OTOH, I can't see what value a licensing scheme would have in preventing such attacks.