Operating a human-powered craft

Human-powered water craft are pleasure craft that are not fitted with a motor. Operators of these vessels do not need proof of competency. However, the use of human-powered craft is subject to regulations.

In addition, operators of certain types of water craft — including kayaks and canoes — should take special care to ensure that their vessels are visible in the water.

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Requirements for human-powered water craft

Human-powered water craft include any pleasure craft that are operated without a motor: sailboats, sailboards, paddleboards, watercycles, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and rowing shells.

Human-powered craft are required to carry on board certain safety equipment, as specified in the Small Vessel Regulations and the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide.


Safe Boating Guide
(PDF, 4.7 MB)


To help ensure that you are following all the rules, schedule a Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check before you set out on the water for the first time.

Proof of competency rules for human-powered craft

You do not need proof of competency to operate a non-powered pleasure craft. The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations only apply to pleasure craft fitted with a motor.

However, if a pleasure craft that does not need a motor is nevertheless fitted with a motor, you need proof of competency to operate it (even when the motor is turned off).

Guidance for kayakers and canoeists

Make sure you can be seen on the water. Even in bright, calm conditions a canoe or kayak can be nearly invisible. It is especially difficult for power vessel operators riding high in the water to see these vessels. Choose bright colours such as red, yellow, or orange for your vessel and also for your flotation device. In addition, remember to keep signalling devices within hand’s reach in case of emergency.

Sea kayakers should be aware of their environment (water temperatures, tides, currents, wind, and maritime traffic) at all times.