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Scientific Boating Operations

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People on a boat in the ocean

The primary goal of the Scientific Boating Program at Hopkins is to ensure that educational and scientific boating operations are conducted according to the procedures set forth in the Boating Safety Manual. Priorities include training and authorizing boat operators according to the standards of the Scientific Boating Safety Association (SBSA), of which Hopkins has been a member since 2008, and ensuring that users of Hopkins boats and motors have appropriate training and experience for the vessels and locations/conditions in which they are used.

Diving and Boating Safety Officers

General Information

  • Recreational boating is not permitted from the Hopkins shoreline
  • Hopkins operators (i.e. those taking boats out solo or as the person in charge of a crew) must go through the vessel-appropriate training and checkout process prior to using any Hopkins boat.
  • Visiting investigators using their own boats from the Hopkins shoreline must have authorization from their home institution and provide this to the BSO before launching.

Who can join the program

Stanford students, faculty and staff intending to use boats for research or teaching at Hopkins Marine Station are eligible to join the Scientific Boating Program.

How to join

Three levels of boat training and qualification are available at Hopkins, depending on the needs of the researcher or student. Skipper candidates must submit an application to Stanford's scientific boating program on WebBoater, including a written summary of boating experience and documentation of any previous training. All candidates must complete a California Safe Boating course and/or submit documentation (online courses are available -- see links below under Boating Safety Courses).

Part of the qualification process involves the skipper candidate spending time as crew on the boat he/she wishes to be checked out on (or similar) with a qualified skipper; the amount of time required for this training will be determined on an individual basis depending on the candidate's boating experience under local conditions and the boat to be used. Please allow sufficient time to complete training and authorization before any planned Hopkins boating operations -- depending on your initial qualifications and intended use, this could take several months. Specific boat use and checkout procedures for each level of qualification are described below:

Project Proposal/Boat Use Request and Float Plan

For any boat use, operators must submit a Boat Project through the WebBoater website for review by the Hopkins Boating Safety Committee. This proposal should be made no less than one month before the start of the project. The proposal must be approved by the BSO and one other committee member who is not the proposer. If significant questions exist, a full meeting of the committee will be held to consider the proposal.

Hopkins boats must not be kept off-site or unavailable to other users for more than 2 weeks at a time, except by agreement between all users. Trailering Hopkins boats to launch sites other than Monterey, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz must have approval from the Hopkins Boating Safety Committee in addition to meeting the off-site time limit. International trips of any duration will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Small boat/outboard float plan/log forms are currently in the fuel shed.

For 17' Whaler, 23' Grady White, and 22' Radon, use this float plan form. For each departure complete this form and submit it to the BSO before your launch -- and give a copy to your designated shore contact. If your trip is expected to extend beyond the anticipated return time, notify your shore contact. Remember to close out your float plan (i.e. notify your shore contact) upon your return.


Taking non-Hopkins people out on a station boat? Please have them complete and submit a Boating Waiver.

Required incident reporting

Any accident, incident, or near-miss event shall be reported to the BSO and to the Hopkins Marine Station administrator/station manager within 24 hours of occurrence. Reportable incidents include but are not limited to: injury, vessel break-down, outboard motor failure or loss, hull damage, citation or boarding of the vessel, and near-accident or “close calls”, whether on land or water. If the operator is in doubt about whether the event needs to be reported in writing, they should check with the BSO.  Please use this form:  Stanford University incident/accident reporting form

Boating Safety Courses and Additional Information

Minimum requirements

Additional training

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Skills and Seamanship

External Resources