AY Honor Power Boating Answer Key

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Power Boating

Skill Level






Approval authority

General Conference

Power Boating AY Honor.png
Power Boating
Skill Level
Approval authority
General Conference
Year of Introduction
See also


Have the Advanced Beginner’s Level of the Swimming honor.

For tips and instruction see Swimming - Beginner - Advanced.


Know the laws regulating pleasure boating in your state or province.

A summary of the boating laws for Australia, all U.S. States and Territories, and all Canadian Provinces can be found at the NASBLA website.


Know what hazards of weather can affect boating safety and performance.

Your primary threats are strong wind and resulting large waves. Anything that obscures visibility like rain, fog and darkness (not technically weather) are safety factors.


Know the nautical rules of the road and waterway aids to navigation.

The “rules of the road” for Canada’s waterways help everyone avoid collisions on the water by setting out what every boater should do to avoid hitting or being hit by another vessel. This is not just a way to be polite – it is the law set out in the Collision Regulations, which apply to every vessel and operator on all navigable waterways – from canoes to supertankers. Know the “rules of the road” and boat by them!

Avoid Close Quarters Situations

It is hard to stop a boat, there are no brakes. The bigger the boat the harder it is too stop. Respect other boats.

Keep Watch and Steer Clear of Shipping Lanes

Keep constant watch for others on the water. If you are sharing the water with large vessels, remember that it is harder for them to see you or change their route to avoid you. It also takes them longer to stop. These are all good reasons to be ready to move out of their way. Some boaters do not realize the risk they take when they cross shipping lanes or pass in front of larger vessels.

Here are some tips to remember since these vessels probably will not see you until it is too late.

  • Always watch for others on the water and be ready to yield to large vessels in the safest way – keeping in mind the water and weather conditions. Use radar and radio if you have them.
  • Navigate in groups of other small boats when possible, to be more visible.
  • Stay off the water in fog or high winds.
  • Stay clear of docked ferries, ferries in transit, vessels in tow and working

fishing vessels. Vessels less than 20 m (65’7”) and sailing vessels must stay out of the way of larger vessels that can safely navigate only within the navigation channel. A large vessel will remind you to give way by giving five or more short blasts of its horn. This means there is an emergency and you must get out of the way.

Give Plenty of Space to Tugs and Other Towing Vessels

Tugs may tow vessels on a long tow line that extends behind the tug. The tow line is often so long that it hangs below the surface of the water and is nearly invisible. Never pass between a tug and its tow. If a small boat were to hit the hidden line, it could capsize and be run down by the object being towed. Many towed objects will also have a long trailing line behind them. Give the tug and its tow plenty of space in every direction.

Learn How to Recognize a Towing Vessel at Night

Be alert for special lights displayed by tugs (or any vessels) towing barges, other boats or objects. The tug is usually more visible than its tow. In fact, the navigation lights of the tow may not include masthead lights and are often much dimmer than the tug lights.

If a power-driven vessel is towing another vessel or object from its stern, the power-driven vessel must display: sidelights; a sternlight; a towing light (yellow light with the same characteristics as the sternlight), two masthead lights in a vertical line – three if the tow exceeds 200 m (656’), and a diamond shape where it will be easy to see if the tow exceeds 200 m (656’).

The barge, vessel or any other object being towed must display: sidelights, a sternlight, and a diamond shape where it will be easy to see if the tow exceeds 200 m (656’).

If it is impractical for the vessel being towed to exhibit the lights stated above, it must have one all-around white light at each of the fore and aft ends.

Display the Right Lights When Towing Another Vessel

As a pleasure boater, you may need to tow another vessel in distress. Do everything you can to light the towing boat or object and the towing line. If you can’t, find a way to indicate its presence and attract attention. If you are looking to fit your boat with navigation lights for towing, refer to Rule 24 of the Collision Regulations for details.

Avoid Dangerous Behaviours

Never try to spray swimmers, or cut in front of or try to jump the wake of other vessels. Some of the worst boating incidents happen when operators misjudge speed or distance.

Operate at a Safe Speed

Remember that you may have to stop or turn suddenly to avoid a collision, so operate at a safe speed. A safe speed depends on:

  • your ability to see ahead – slow is the only safe speed in fog, mist, rain and darkness;
  • current, wind, and water conditions;
  • how quickly your boat can change direction;
  • how many and what types of vessels are near you; and
  • the presence of navigational hazards such as rocks and tree stumps.

Be very careful when boating where visibility is poor, such as entering or exiting a fog bank.

A boat’s wake can damage other vessels, docks and the shoreline. It can also be a risk for swimmers, divers and people on small boats that might capsize. Be aware of how your boat’s wake might affect others when choosing your speed. You will be responsible for any damages or harm you cause.

Never Cruise with Booze

Mixing alcohol and boating is far more dangerous than you may think. Under normal conditions, sun, wind, the motion of the boat and even just being tired can dull your senses. Alcohol makes things even worse, slowing your hand-eye coordination and clouding your judgment. Never cruise with booze! You might harm yourself or others. You are responsible for the safety of your guests and for not putting other waterway users in danger. Always be prepared and alert. Wait until you are safely on shore before having a drink. Remember that impaired driving (whether on land or water) is an infraction of the Criminal Code of Canada. The consequences, even for a first offence, can last a lifetime.

REMEMBER: Provinces and territories have their own rules on legal alcohol limits — when you can drink and how you may carry alcohol on board. Contact your local law enforcement authorities for more information.

Reduce Engine Noise

Every boat equipped with a motor other than a stock (unmodified) outboard engine must have a muffler and use it while operating within five nautical miles (9.26 km) of shore.

Be Aware of What is Going on Around You

As a boater, you must be aware of what is going on around you, both on the water and in the skies.

Divers Below the Surface

Diving is a popular water sport so know what a diver down flag looks like and keep careful watch for such flags. This is very important because the wake from your boat, along with weather and other factors, can make it hard to see divers’ bubbles on the surface of the water.

Divers’ boats must display the international blue and white Code Flag Alpha. A red and white flag on a buoy may also mark the area where diving is in progress, although divers may stray from the boundaries of the marked areas. If you decide to go diving from your boat, remember to display these flags as well. Best practice includes staying within 100 m (328’) of your flag. When you see either flag, give divers plenty of room by keeping your boat at least 100 m (328’) from the flag. If you cannot stay that far away because of the size of the waterway, slow down as much as possible, move ahead with caution, and keep clear of the vessel and diving site.


Watch for aircraft when you are out on the water and give plenty of space to any aircraft that is landing or taking off.

Safety Around Dams

Be very careful near canal dams and waste weirs where currents and undertows can be very hazardous. Low-head dams are especially dangerous. Boaters and anglers often get too close to the downstream side of the dam, become drawn or sucked into the backwash current that takes them to the base of the dam, and are then forced under water and pushed away from the dam. After surfacing, the victim is drawn back in toward the base of the dam, starting the cycle over again.

Find out if there are any dams where you plan to go boating before you head out – and stay clear of them. When boating in an area with dams, be sure to follow the signage posted by dam authorities.

Safety Under Electric Lines and Under Bridges

Contact with an aerial electric line or an electric arc zone (invisible) can kill you. Hitting a bridge can damage your boat and the bridge. That is why you should:

  • Know the height of your boat above water (including gear installed on top of the mast).
  • Know the minimal clearance identified on marine charts and avoid electric lines when this information is not available.
  • Be careful at night: electric lines are more difficult to see

Waterskiing and Other Recreational Towing Activities

The rules that govern waterskiing also apply to other recreational towing activities like barefoot skiing, tubing, kneeboarding and parasailing. Here are rules to remember when towing someone with your boat:

  • You must have a spotter on board the boat who can keep watch on each

person you are towing and communicate with you.

  • There must be an empty seat on your boat for each person you are

towing in case they need to come on board.

  • You may only tow persons with a personal watercraft made to carry three or more people.
  • If someone you tow is not wearing a lifejacket or PFD, you must have one on board for him or her.
  • You may not tow anyone when visibility is poor or from one hour after sunset to sunrise.
  • No towing boat may be remotely controlled.

Locks and Canals

When visiting one of Canada’s historic canals, make sure your boat has enough properly sized mooring lines and securely fastened floating fenders.

Many water activities are not allowed in a canal. Some rules include:

  • no excessive noise between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
  • no fishing within 10 m (32’10”) of a lock or approach wharf or from a bridge that passes over a navigation channel;
  • no diving, jumping, scuba diving or swimming in a navigation channel or within 40 m (131’) of a lock gate or a dam in a historic canal;
  • no waterskiing or other towing activities while in a navigation channel or within 100 m (328’1”) of a lock structure; and
  • no mooring a vessel to a navigation aid.

Visit Parks Canada (or whoever is in charge) to learn more about historic canals and see Historic Canal Regulations for more information about the regulations that apply.

Passage through a Lock

Obey the posted speed limits and be aware of your boat’s wake when approaching a lock. Other things to remember include:

  • Keep clear of the channel near lock gates so that vessels can come and go.
  • Look for the blue line on the mooring wharf that shows where to wait for the next lockage.
  • Follow the instructions given by lockmasters and bridge operators (at a number of lock stations, a green traffic light is your signal to go ahead).
  • Enter the lock slowly (no faster than 10 km/h) and have people at the bow and stern of your boat ready with mooring lines.
  • If the lock has drop cables, loop boat lines around them, not to them, and only once your boat is safely positioned. If the lock has floating docks, lockmasters may tell you to tie up to one inside the lock chamber.
  • Tend vessel lines carefully during the lockage. Looping a line around a deck cleat may provide extra leverage.
  • Never leave bow or stern lines unattended.
  • Switch off the engine(s) and generator. No open flames or smoking are allowed during lockage. The bilge blower must be operating during lockage.
  • When the lock gates open, wait for staff to direct you to restart your engine.
  • Make sure you have brought all your mooring lines back into your boat and exit slowly and in order. Watch out for wind, currents and other vessels.

Nautical Aids


Know what safety equipment, signaling devices, and lights are required on Class A and Class 1 boats.

These regulations vary by country, size of boat, and change from time to time. In Canada the regulations for Sail and Power Boats over 9 m and up to 12 m (29’6” – 39’4”) at the time this question was answered are as an example. Be sure you know the requirements for where you are operating a given size boat:

1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
2. One (1) reboarding device (See Note 1)
3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long
4. One (1) lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

5. One (1) watertight flashlight
6. Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C or D, not more than six (6) of which are of type D (See Note 2)

7. One (1) anchor and at least 30 m (98’5”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
8. One (1) manual bilge pump (See Note 3) OR Bilge-pumping arrangements

9. One (1) sound-signalling device or appliance
10. Navigation lights (See Note 4)
11. One (1) magnetic compass (See Note 5)
12. One (1) radar reflector (See Note 6)

13. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor
14. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

Note 1 – Reboarding Device A reboarding device is only required if the vertical height that a person must climb to reboard the boat from the water (freeboard) is over 0.5 m (1’8”).

Note 2 – Flares Flares are not required for a boat that: • is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than one (1) nautical mile (1.852 km) from shore; or • has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition.

Note 3 – Bailer and Manual Bilge Pump A bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or a boat that has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible.

Note 4 – Navigation Lights Navigation lights are only required if you operate the boat after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility (fog, falling snow, etc.).

Note 5 – Magnetic Compass A magnetic compass is not required if the boat is 8 m (26’3”) or less and you operate it within sight of navigation marks.

Note 6 – Radar Reflector Radar reflectors are required for boats under 20 m (65’7”) and boats built of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if: • the boat is used in limited traffic conditions, daylight and favourable environmental conditions, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to the boat’s safety; or • the small size of the boat or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install or use a radar reflector.

Larger boats require additional equipment and smaller boats require less equipment.'

Radar Reflectors help larger vessels to see small boats on their radar screens, and may be the only way that they will be able to spot you. A radar reflector can enhance your safety on the water, but only if it is big enough and well placed on your boat. When buying a reflector, there is no substitute for size – so buy the biggest one that will fit your boat. There are all kinds of reflectors of varying quality on the market, so make sure you look carefully before buying. Keep in mind that placement height is also very important. Reflectors should be located above all superstructures; and at least 4 m (13’1”) above the water, if possible.

Do you know that different types of fires require different types of extinguishers? The letters on a fire extinguisher tell you what types of fires it is designed to fight. Fires are classified as follows:

  • Class A: Materials that burn, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber

and plastic

  • Class B: Liquids that burn, such as gas, oil and grease
  • Class C: Electrical equipment

You should buy a fire extinguisher with an ABC rating. The number before the letters on the extinguisher tells you how big a fire it will put out compared to other extinguishers. For example, a 10BC device will put out a larger fire than a 5BC device. Check your extinguishers often for correct operating pressure and make sure that you and your guests know how to use them. Have a qualified person maintain, service and recharge your extinguishers as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Take dry chemical devices out of their bracket and give them a few hard shakes in the upside down position about once a month to keep the contents active.

The fire extinguisher you choose must bear a mark that shows it is certified by:

  • Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC);
  • Underwriters’ Laboratories Inc. (UL); or
  • Unites States Coast Guard.


Know and practice boating safety rules.

The other sections of this page cover this topic well.


What should the passengers do if the boat capsizes?

1. Life first: Take a head count to make sure everyone is there 2. Get your life jackets on - if they have flouted out of range use anything that flouts. Treading water only lasts so long. 3. Check for injuries 4. Stay with the boat as long as it is not sinking. Rescuers will have a far easier time find near the large mass of the boat. 5. Conserve energy 6. Signal for help using available equipment such as visual distress signals, horn, mirror, radios, flares etc. 7. If practical, turn a smaller boat upright and bail it out. Once most of the water is out, climb back in. A swamped boat is much better than no boat.


What is the General Prudential Rule?

Rule 2(b) of the International Rules and Inland Rules. Rule 2(b) states “In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger.”

This rule has remained consistent for over 100 years. In plan English it means that you must follow the rules of navigation unless special circumstances that involve immediate danger require taking a different action.


Know the meaning of the following boating terms:



Towards the rear, or stern, of a boat. Abaft means “in the back.”



On the beam; at a right angle to the centerline or keel of a vessel. Also alongside or abreast; opposite the center of the side of the ship or aircraft.



On or in a vessel


Aft or After

1. The portion of the vessel behind the middle area of the vessel. 2. Towards the stern (of the vessel).



The middle section of a vessel with reference to the athwartships plane, as distinguished from port or starboard ("Put your rudder amidships.")



1. Toward the stern (rear) of a vessel. 2. Behind a vessel.



The width of a vessel at the widest point, or a point alongside the ship at the midpoint of its length.



Beneath the deck.



A knot used to join two ropes or lines. See also hitch.



The compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water collects and must be pumped out of the vessel.



1. The front of a vessel.
2. Either side of the front (or bow) of the vessel, i.e., the port bow and starboard bow. Something ahead and to the left of the vessel is "off the port bow", while something ahead and to the right of the vessel is "off the starboard bow." When "bow" is used in this way, the front of the vessel sometimes is called her bows (plural), a collective reference to her port and starboard bows synonymous with bow (singular) as described in Definition (1).



An upright wall within the hull of a ship. Particularly a watertight, load-bearing wall.



A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel.



The depth of a ship's keel below the waterline.



The height of a ship's hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline. The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to another.



The central structural basis of the hull.



Downwind of a point of reference.

Upwind downwind example.png



The left side of the boat. Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.



The right side of the boat. Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward. Denoted with a green light at night. Derived from the old steering oar or steerboard which preceded the invention of the rudder.



The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail.



1. Relationship of ship's hull to waterline.



In the direction that the wind is coming from.


Show how to properly operate a power boat by doing the following:


Assist in putting a boat in the water from a boat trailer.

Start by inspecting the boat ramp above and below the water for obstructions and to understand where to back the trailer in. Be polite to other ramp users and communicate your intentions to them. As you get into the water, but before the boat can float, undo the safety chain and loosen the cable off. Back the boat trailer into the water until the boat floats. Someone in the boat should operate the boat off the trailer while someone else unhooks the cable, deals with tying the boat to the dock with ropes (if required), and driving the truck and trailer away.

Good communication within your group and with others nearby is important to avoid damage.


Check for all safety equipment. Check fuel and motor.

It is good to have a small laminated (to prevent it getting wet) card with a safety checklist appropriate to a particular boat. Checking the fuel requires either looking at the gauge (if so equipped) or opening the tank and visually looking. The motor should be tested by running it gently while unloading from the trailer.


Start motor and get underway from a beach or dock.

Watch where you are going. Don't go fast near the shore, and avoid making waves.


Drive boat in a straight line for one fourth of a mile. Make a 90-degree turn to the left and right. Make a 180-degree turn.

This is just a simple demonstration of ability to handle the boat.


From a stop, drop and retrieve the anchor.

The tricky part is doing this without damaging the boat. Go slow, controlling the chain/rope. A towel over the edge of the boat can help avoid damaging the fiberglass or other parts of the boat.


Dock or beach with proper tie up.

Again, slow and controlled. If beaching you need to tie to a sturdy tree or rock, remembering that tides and waves can move your boat if not properly secured. There are a few knots every boater needs to know:

Two half hitches
Knot 2 half hitches.jpg

Use: This reliable knot is quickly tied and is the hitch most often used in mooring.

How to tie:

  1. Pass end of rope around post or other object.
  2. Wrap short end of rope under and over long part of rope, pushing the end down through the loop. This is a half hitch.
  3. Repeat on long rope below first half hitch and draw up tight.

Knot bowline.jpg

Use: This knot doesn't jam or slip when tied properly. It can be tied around a person's waist and used to lift him, because the loop will not tighten under load. In sailing, the bowline is used to tie a halyard to a sail head.

How to tie:

  1. Make the overhand loop with the end held toward you, then pass end through loop.
  2. Now pass end up behind the standing part, then down through the loop again.
  3. Draw up tight.

Double bowline
Nœud de calfat.jpg

How to tie:

  1. Make a loop with the running end crossing over the standing end.
  2. Make a larger loop that passes over the first loop, again with the running end passing over the standing end.
  3. Pass the running end through the first loop from the bottom.
  4. Wrap the running end behind the standing end, and back down through the first loop.
  5. Tighten

Stevedore knot
Finished stevedore knot
Stevedore knot before tightening

Use: The Stevedore knot is a stopper knot, often tied near the end of a rope. It is more bulky and less prone to jamming than the closely related figure-eight knot. This knot is excellent for anchoring a tarp. Pass the end of the rope through a tarp's grommet, tie a stevedore, and anchor the other end with a taut-line hitch. Its added bulk prevents it from pulling through the grommet.

How to tie:

The knot is formed by following the steps to make a figure-eight knot, but the working end makes an additional round turn around the standing part before the end passes back through the initial loop.

Anchor bend
AnchorBend HowTo.jpg

Use: The Anchor Bend is a knot used for attaching a rope to a ring or similar termination. The round turn and tight application help keep the rope from chafing.

How to tie:

  1. Make two turns around a hitch.
  2. Pass the running end around the standing end and beneath the two turns.
  3. Finish with a half hitch on the standing end.

Square Knot
Knot square.jpg

Use: Also known as a Reef knot, the Square Knot is easily learned and useful for many situations. It is most commonly used to tie two lines together at the ends. This knot is used at sea in reefing and furling sails. It is used in first aid to tie off a bandage or a sling because the knot lies flat.

How to tie:

  1. Pass left end over and under right end.
  2. Curve what is now the left end toward the right and cross what is now the right end over and under the left.
  3. Draw up tight by pulling one end and line away from the other end and line.

WARNING: Do not rely on this knot to hold weight in a life or death situation. It has been known to fail.

AY Honors/Knot/Cleat hitch

Cleat Hitch - Use to secure the boat to a dock or secure a line to the boat Take the line to the ear of the cleat farthest from where the line comes from (the load). Take one wrap around the base of the cleat and then start a figure eight across the top of the opposite ear. Finish with a half hitch turned under so that the line is coming away from the cleat in the opposite direction from which it came in.


Assist in loading a boat from the water onto a boat trailer.

First check for obstructions and communicate your intentions to others in the area. After one person backs the trailer into the water, slowly but forcefully drive the boat onto the trailer. Make sure your boat is straight on the trailer, which might mean letting the boat settle out before the next step. The person outside the boat should attach the cable and cinch it up before attaching the safety chain. Pull out of the water and attach safety straps at the back and anywhere else required. Check that no weeds are attached to the boat or trailer to prevent the spread of invasive species between lakes. If you have been in ocean water, rise your wheels and brakes. Attach any boat covers, and secure all ropes and equipment before driving off.


Know how to prepare and store a boat and motor for the off season.


Singificant portions of these answers are from http://www.tc.gc.ca/publications/EN/TP511/PDF%5CHR/TP511E.pdf and are used here for non-commercial purposes with permission.