I have made mention more than once in these ramblings of my intention – be it sooner or later – of owning a boat. So to do has long been an ambition of mine and it would be frankly unconscionable to live on this verdant coast but not to indulge my piratical fantasies around and about the Gulf Islands.
For a potential corsair I am, somewhat disconcertingly, really rather on the cautious side and I certainly won’t be making tracks to the nearest boat dealer until I have a good idea as to what I am doing. That – of course – means study!
As it happens one cannot in any case operate a small craft in Canadian waters without being appropriately certified. The Pleasure Craft Operator’s Certificate (PCOC) must not only be acquired before setting forth but must also be carried at all times when on the water. The test that one must pass to gain this qualification is straightforward and is mainly concerned with safety afloat. Helpfully it may be studied for and taken online should that be one’s preference.
With a typical desire to be thorough, however, I decided that I wanted to do more than just cover the basics. The next level up includes (though is not confined to) the study of maritime navigation the ‘old fashioned’ way – eschewing such modern aids as GPS. Naturally that appeals to my old-school nature.
Fortunately courses covering all such matters are conveniently provided by the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons of which – as befits an island city with water on three sides – there are no less than five within the Greater Victoria area. The website for the nearby Brentwood Bay squadron was the first to allow me to book a course online (some shaky web design on other sites!) and I quickly signed up for the PCOC course and a Boating Essentials course – to be given at a nearby school.
The PCOC was rapidly dispatched within three sessions culminating in a fifty question multiple-choice test. Being of a certain age I had not previously sat an exam of this form and I was dismayed at getting an answer wrong simply because I misread – through trying to hurry too much – the responses on offer. As the pass rate for the PCOC is a mere 75% this mattered not a jot, but there was pride at stake (mine!). I now await delivery by post of yet another vital credit card sized piece of plastic.
The Boating Essentials course will occupy me for the next two months and looks to be good fun. I have thus far discovered that once learned – courtesy of my Boy Scout upbringing – one does not forget how to tie knots!
If only the same were true of all else in life…