Chapter 16 - Make changes with care

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Vessel and Equipment Changes

Be aware that changes to your vessel's equipment and structure may lower its freeboard and stability or make it less suited to its use and the environmental conditions it may meet. Changes may also affect the watertight integrity of your vessel or its ability to quickly shed water overboard. Any changes must comply with the construction requirements and provide for adequate stability for the vessel's intended use.

Changes to your vessel or its system may also increase other risks such as fire, explosion and electrocution if not done properly.

When making changes that may impact vessel safety, you should consult a qualified marine professional to help you decide if the changes you want to make follow good marine practices and meet the construction, equipment and safety regulations for your vessel's intended area of service. If you are making a major modification, you must advise your local Transport Canada Centre and the appropriate Vessel Registration office (see Building or Modifying a Vessel in Chapter 2 and Vessel Registration in Chapter 3).

Changing the Area and Type of Operation

Changes to where and how you operate your vessel deserve careful thought. For example:

  • Does the new area include a higher voyage classification?
  • Will your vessel be carrying more passengers than before?
  • Will your vessel's status change from non-passenger-carrying to passenger-carrying?
  • Does the new area of operation feature different prevailing conditions (wind, waves, current) or take the vessel further from shelter?

Changes like these may mean that extra safety requirements will apply. If the change in area or type of operation is significant, then you may need to re-evaluate your vessel's stability and strength in its new operating environment, add additional safety equipment or increase the level of qualification of the crew. Changes in normal environmental conditions may also mean that you must access weather updates more often or adjust the amount of time you need to head for shelter.

Take the time to think through any proposed changes and do your homework to keep your operation safe.

More Information

Contact your local Transport Canada Centre to find out the laws and regulations that apply to your vessel and situation (see Appendix 2).

To contact the Vessel Registration Office, visit

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