small boats, Photo Credit: Matt Robart

Guidelines for Small Boats

Marine Operations: Guidelines for Small Boat Use

This document is intended for faculty, staff, and students, whether BML residents or visitors. These guidelines are to be used with the Small Boat Manual. Operators are expected to be familiar with the material in the appropriate manual(s) and to follow those policies.

Prospective operators of BML small boats must demonstrate training and experience handling and working from small vessels to Marine Operations personnel. Prospective boat operators must also schedule a check out cruise through BML Marine Operations; a check out trip will be scheduled once the forms are received.

All US Coast Guard & California boating regulations must be observed when aboard vessels involved in BML business. (Refer to ABCs of the California Boating Law.) This includes requirements for fire extinguishers, radios, lights, emergency signaling devices and life jackets, or personal flotation devices, "PFDs". At least one USCG approved type I, II, or III PFD must be on board for each person plus one "throwable" PFD. Type III PFDs are the minimum for use in coastal waters. Seat cushions shall not be considered as PFDs. PFDs, VHF radios and GPS units can be borrowed from the boating or diving programs. Motorboats must have a radio or working cell phone when underway. Operators need to be aware that there are areas close to shore where radio and telephone communications are not possible. A satellite phone is available to be checked out for areas beyond cell phone and radio coverage.

See list of required and recommended equipment.

Float Plans must be filed with the BML front office before departure. After business hours, a float plan MUST be filed with a responsible party. Forms can be obtained from the BML front office, or HERE. Follow the float plan, and report in when returned. If BML does not hear from the boat within one hour of the original ETA the BML response team will be notified. If they fail to find you, the USCG will be called in. If the boat is going to be late the operator shall call the lab and advise them of the new ETA. Boats returning after normal working hours will make special arrangements to check back in.

The reservation of any BML boat is on a first come, first served basis. File a boat use request with BML Marine Operations personnel at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to departure to facilitate reservation and ensure the boat will be ready. Check the Small Boat Calendar for boat availability prior to your request.

Use of any boat is always contingent upon weather conditions. Responsibility for monitoring weather conditions prior to departure and during operations resides with the operator. When small craft advisories are issued, and/or winds are greater than 20kt, and/or wind chop of greater than 3' develop in a planned operation area, boaters shall postpone or cancel their operations until more favorable conditions prevail. Unless special permission to operate is granted by the Boating Safety Officer.

It is the vessel operator's responsibility to ensure that the boat is seaworthy and all required operational and safety equipment is on board and works properly before departure. The operator is also responsible for safe transport, launch, operation, recovery and clean up of the boat. Any time/parts needed by BML staff to repair or clean a boat after use will be recharged to operator.