Roads and highways can take you to some amazing places, but the route is the same each time, and you don’t get to set it yourself. A boat lets you travel to some spectacular destinations, but the real joy is in the journey. Every trip on the water is an adventure, and it’s never the same one twice.
As you think about purchasing a boat, there is a lot to consider; what journeys do you want to take? The answer will help determine which boat is right for you, where to buy and store it, find out if you need to licence or register it, and when you’re ready to move on, how to sell or dispose of it.
⇒ Which boat is right for you?
There is much to consider in determining the right boat for you and your family. What kind of boating are you interested in? Do you want to use it for day-tripping or long-term cruising? How many people does it need to accommodate? How much do you want to invest?
Our partners at Discover Boating Canada have an in-depth boat selector tool that can help you make the right choice.
⇒ Where to buy a boat in Ontario
If you are purchasing a new or pre-owned boat, we strongly recommend you use a dealer or certified broker. They will walk you through the process step-by-step, ensure the vessel has been properly maintained and surveyed and can also assist with marine financing, insurance and offer ongoing support once you’re off using your boat on your own.
Of course, many pre-owned boats are also available for a private sale, which is another option. Most used boats have some imperfections, and you’ll want to be fully informed before you make your decision. Have the boat pulled out of the water, and a surveyor inspect the hull. If the boat has an engine other than a small outboard, a mechanical survey should also be done.
If you choose to purchase a boat privately, make sure you get a receipt in writing that you can keep as a proof of purchase and ownership for licensing purposes.
⇒ Boat Insurance
In Canada, insurance for recreational boats is not a requirement but is highly recommended. The right insurance coverage will offer you peace of mind and protect your investment and the people you invite on board. Policies vary widely – it’s best to contact a marine insurance broker to discuss your specific needs.
⇒ Boat Licensing & Registration
All pleasure craft powered by an engine of 10 horsepower or more are required to have a Pleasure Craft License (PCL) issued by Transport Canada unless they have a vessel registration. The process to attain a new PCL, or to transfer one, is easy, can be done online or through the mail, and must be completed within 90 days of purchasing a boat. A PCL is free of charge and is good for ten years. If you move or any of your information changes during that time, you are responsible for updating your license information.
You must display your PCL number on both sides of the bow of your boat above the water line and carry a copy of your card while onboard. There is a $250 fine if you are found operating a vessel without a license. You can apply to Transport Canada for a PCL.
For boat owners who wish to have an approved name and port of registry for your vessel, register a marine mortgage, or show proof of ownership, you will want to register your boat in the Canadian Register of Vessels. There is a fee of $250 to register your vessel and $150 to transfer registration.
For more details on registering a pleasure craft visit Transport Canada.
⇒ Storing your boat
Boat storage is largely dependent on the type and size of your boat, your location, and how much you want to spend. Options include storing a boat on a trailer, rack storage, or Yacht Clubs.
Storing a boat on a trailer:
Keeping a boat on a trailer at your home is the most economical way to store your boat, but there are some things to consider:
- You need a yard or driveway large enough to store your boat and a vehicle large enough to tow it.
- Is the area where you’ll store your boat secure?
- Who will shrink wrap the boat for you?
- Going for a spur-of-the-moment trip will be more difficult as you’ll need to hook up your trailer and commute to the closest boat launch, but you have the flexibility to drive to a variety of locations.
Tips for purchasing a trailer:
Ensure your trailer is the correct size and weight capacity for your boat and that it conforms to Transport Canada’s marker and light requirements and you meet MTO’s licensing and brake requirements. Your trailer must be insured – the fee is generally less than $200 per year.
This is a service offered at some marinas around the province. Boats are stored on enclosed racks and are brought out when you want to go boating and stored away upon your return. Some things to consider with rack storage:
- Your boat is protected from the weather; the finish is preserved, avoiding corrosion and reducing maintenance costs.
- Dry-stack operators will launch your boat for you – no need to tow and launch yourself. They are typically located at a marina which offers other conveniences such as mechanics, parts, boat dealerships, and of course, other boaters!
- You have to make arrangements to launch your boat before arrival - a busy day may result in a wait.
- You won’t be plugged into shore power, so batteries are not maintained and the refrigerator is not running while stored.
- Your boat is not accessible 24 a day; if you want to work on or tinker with it, you’ll have to make arrangements in advance.
Yacht clubs offer more than a place to moor your boat; they are a place to build a social network that you can enjoy on and off the water. Yacht clubs don’t offer the same service support on-site as a regular marina, but they often have dining facilities, host events on and off the water and some have reciprocal arrangements with other clubs and outstations or destination marinas that are included in the membership. Moorage fees at yacht clubs are often lower than commercial marinas, but you will also have to pay a club due and, depending on the club, a minimum food & beverage fee.
⇒ Selling your boat:
When the time comes to sell your boat, we recommend you list it with a certified broker or dealership. Their expertise is your peace of mind; they will deal with all of the details on your behalf and, because they sell boats all year long, they are a go-to resource for people who are shopping for a pre-owned boat.
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