Combine the excitement of sailing with the luxury of yachting, and you have the nautical sport of keelboating. Keelboating is a popular activity throughout North America, particularly in Ontario, where proximity to two major Great Lakes provide ideal locales for sailing. Once you have become licensed in keelboating procedures you can enjoy sailing around the province on your own keelboat.
Keelboats are small or mid-sized yachts that are operated by a sail. Unlike sailboats, however, keelboats have a keel, rather than a rudder, which is used to navigate and move the boat. Because this affects the way the boat is steered, sailors well-versed in operating standard sailboats may need lessons on the differences between the two boats.
There are many different companies located in Ontario that offer keelboating classes. These classes allow prospective keelboat sailors to learn the skills they need to pass Ontario licensing exams, while getting hands-on practice with a variety of sizes and types of keelboats. This is beneficial particularly for people that do not have access to their own keelboats. The duration and cost of these programs varies by company. For instance, one Toronto-based company offers a weekend long excursion class that can prepare beginners for the licensing exam in a matter of days.
Most Ontario-based keelboat classes will teach beginning sailors the proper steps to have a safe and fun time sailing. Beginner level keelboat classes teach students about proper handling of sails, charting courses and reading weather reports, anchoring and docking. Intermediate and advanced classes are also available through a variety of companies. These classes teach sailors about planning long-term cruising trips, emergency safety, docking at unfamiliar harbors and radio operation.
All sailors operating boats in Ontario must be properly licenses before they can sail alone. The licenses, also called the Pleasure Craft Operator Card, can be obtained through taking a test online or at a licensing center. These centers are found throughout Ontario in the province's major cities.
Though Ontario is landlocked, there are a number of lakes where licensed keelboaters can enjoy their crafts. Lake Ontario is one of the most popular keelboat sailing locales based on its large size. Sailor can dock at locations in both downtown Toronto and suburban Kingston. Just north of Toronto, Parry Sound, located in Lake Superior, is also a windy and popular place for keelboating in the province.
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