When the Canada-US border reopens, boaters and anglers travelling in US waters should be aware of a new rule.
Effective April 1, 2021, an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) must be used by operators of vessels less than 26 feet in length when on plane. Boats built after Jan. 1, 2020, must have an ECOS, maintain it in working order and use it while on plane. Boats built prior to Jan. 1, 2020 are not required by law to have an operating ECOS and to maintain it, but if they have one that is operational, it must be used when the boat is on plane.
Typically, an ECOS is attached to the operator by a lanyard with the intention that if the operator fell overboard, it would disconnect the switch and kill the engine. The law was implemented due to boat operators falling overboard and being struck by the boat as it circled with no one at the controls.
The fine for not following the law is $100 for the first offence.
Rick Layzell, CEO of Boating Ontario Association, is not aware of any recent discussions about implementing a similar law in Canada.