Sailing Schools / Programs
 in the Ottawa-Outaouais area

Although an afternoon's worth of instruction by a friend will take a lot of the mystery out of sailing, it is highly advisable for beginners to sign up for a recognized boating course(s) as offered by sailing schools/programs accredited by the Canadian Yachting Association or by the Power & Sail Squadrons. Successful completion of such courses usually qualifies people for lower insurance rates and the new recreational boating "Operator Card". Scroll down this page for more details about the "Operator Card" requirements and relevant courses.

Below are links to area sailing schools with web pages. For the complete addresses and phone numbers of these and other sailing schools, also see "Sailing Instruction" under this website's Directory of "Services & Businesses".

 Boat "Operator Card"

 "Operator Card" Requirements (summary):

  • In January of 1999, the federal government introduced new regulations that will eventually require operators of all power driven recreational boats in Canada to obtain an "Operator Card" (sometimes referred to as an operator licence).

  • These regulations apply to sailboats equipped with an engine, but not dinghies or other types of boats that are not fitted with a motor.

  • Adults will generally have until September 15, 2009 to obtain an "Operator Card". Until this date, it will be legal for adults to operate most types of power driven boats without such a card. The specific deadlines for obtaining a card are as follows:

    September 15, 1999:    Operators born after April 1, 1983.
    (Youth who were 16 years of age or younger when the new regulations came into force.)
    September 15, 2002:    All operators of boats under 4 m (approx. 13 feet) in length (aimed at jetski-type boats).
    September 15, 2009:    All other operators (just about all adult operators of sailboats equipped with an engine).

  • Obtaining an "Operator Card" involves taking a very basic Coast Guard accredited safety course (typically an 8 hour course) and passing a short written test. The card will be good-for-life (no renewals required). See below for a list of local courses.

  • People who have already successfully completed a recognized boating course in Canada before April 1, 1999, already meet the new requirements. They will be able to obtain an "Operator Card" without having to take the safety course or test.

  • People who feel they have enough experience and knowledge about boating safety have the option of obtaining their "Operator Card" by taking a "Challenge Test" (and not take a safety course). The Challenge Tests will be administered by those who are accredited to give the courses.

 "Operator Card" Boating Safety Courses :

For a list of Transport Canada accredited the boating safety course, see:

For more information about regulations concerning "Operator Card" requirements in Canada,
see the web site of Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety at:

Text and graphics by Michael McGoldrick.
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