Boating in Cottage Country

June 29, 2021

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Fishing out of boat with family at sunset

Whether you are new to boating, moving to a new area or exploring a new lake, it can be challenging to know where to start. We’ve outlined some great starting points and tips on boat launch locations in cottage country and some useful tips when it comes to safe boating, boating with dogs and children and helping stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Boat Launch Locations:

Kawartha Lakes:



Hastings County:


Boating on a lake with blue skies

Tips for Safe Boating:

  1. Ensure all safety equipment is packed before you hit the water

– Check that all the safety equipment required by law for your vessel and its size is on board and in good working condition.

-These items include lifejackets/PFDs for every passenger, a First Aid kit, a buoyant heaving line, a sound signaling device (like a whistle*), a bail bucket, a watertight flashlight, and a paddle or anchor.

Other items that could come in handy include: cellphone, extra sunscreen, water, snacks and clean dry clothes.

*Pro tip: attach your whistle to your lifejacket/PFD so you can signal for help in an emergency.

  1. Always wear a properly fitted lifejacket/PFD and be sure everyone else on board is wearing one too – Don’t forget to check your lifejacket for wear, especially rips and tears.
  2. Follow the law and get your boating license(Motorized Pleasure Craft Operator Card) – Pleasure craft operators are required by Transport Canada to take and pass an accredited course before they get behind the wheel of a boat.
  1. Don’t drink and drive (or paddle) – It’s illegal and dangerous. Have “water on the water” and save the “beer for the pier.” Drinking while boating incurs the same legal penalty as drinking while driving a car.
  1. Plan your trip – Know your route, and use official nautical charts. It’s also a good idea to fill out a Trip Preparation Form, which provides information about your boat, destination, travel route, expected return time, the names of all the people in your party and instructions in case of emergency. Leave one copy with someone responsible at home and another at the park office.

Don’t forget to keep a close eye on the weather. Have a plan for getting back to shore should the water turn rough.

  1. Know your vessel and its capabilities

For More Information:


Launching a boat in a lake to fish with children

5 Tips for Safe Boating with Kids:

  1. Expect the unexpected—pack more, even for just for day boating.
  2. Always be prepared for call for help—use your cell phone or a VHF radio.
  3. Spend time teaching your kids to improve their swimming skills.
  4. Ensure your child always wears a life jacket, for swimming (if needed), watersports and cruising.
  5. Establish rules upfront and always practice safe boating habits onboard and in the water.


For More Information:


Boating with your dog


Basics Tips for Boating with Your Dog

  1. Invest in a canine life jacket.
  2. Have lots of water available and don’t encourage your dog to drink water from the lake
  3. Consider purchasing and applying sunscreen for your dog.
  4. Have a plan in place when your dog needs to relieve himself or herself.

Learn more through Discover Boating: Boating with Pets


Proper maintenance of your boat from lake to lake to prevent the spread of invasive species

Boaters Action Plan to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Learn what you can do to help stop the spread Download PDF

  1. Clean your boat and gear – Before leaving the water, clean any mud, vegetation, mussels or anything suspicious from your boat, motor, trailer or fishing equipment.
  2. Drain before you leave – Drain all standing water by pulling the plug on your transom and live well at the boat launch. Never take an aquatic invasive species from one body of water to another.
  3. Dry or disinfect – To remove invaders you can’t see before travelling to a new body of water, either:
  • Dry your boat for at least 5 days in sunlight
  • Clean your boat from top to bottom with hot water over 50°C or pressurized water over 250 PSI
  1. Avoid aquatic plants – Avoid driving your boat through aquatic plants when possible. Propellers can break them loose and spread invasive species.

For More Information:


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