Safe operation of paddle craft for research purposes require the operator to possess skill sets specific to the type of paddle craft and environment where work is being conducted.

Stroke mechanics, vessel maneuvers, reading water conditions, and self-rescue are examples of skill areas that the non-motorized operator must be competent in prior to doing field work on the water. Moving water, tidal flats/channels, and coastal ocean waters are examples of environments requiring operator familiarity with their individual characteristics. Kayaks, canoes, drift/row boats, and rafts may share some operational similarities, but these vessels also have skills requirements specific to safe operation of each type.

Operator Competencies- non-motorized operators should undertake formal training relevant to the craft they will be using and the environments they will be operating in prior to getting on the water for research purposes (individual experience in lieu of training can be discussed with the OSU DSO). The OSU Small Boat Safety Program recognizes the American Canoe Association- (ACA) as a source of appropriate “community standards” for basic paddle craft operational knowledge. The OSU Adventure Leadership Institute (ALI) is a center for ACA training and paddle craft expertise at OSU, and the OSU Small Boat Safety Program works closely with the ALI to coordinate training and provide advice for researchers utilizing paddle craft in their field work.

Support Requirements- researchpaddle craft operators should not engage in field work unsupported. A paddle buddy or properly equipped and trained shore watch should be considered an integral part of safe operations. Emergency plans including extrication from the water, basic first aid provision, and EMS activation should be worked out in advance, and any training/drills needed to achieve competency in these areas should be completed prior to undertaking field work.

Float Plans- small boat research operations should include use of the OSU Float Plan.  Alternate formats may be used, but must incorporate equivalent information and the use of a Designated Shore Contact.

Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) - OSU personnel using small motorized or non-motorized vessels for research shall wear an appropriate PFD at all times on the water