Operation of a small motorboat while conducting research activities places unique demands on the operator and crew. Experience and training of all individuals must be appropriate for the vessel, tasks to be completed, and operational environment. All individuals onboard should be well versed in emergency procedures relevant to the vessel and environment, and should have competency in basic first aid and self-rescue.
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. Rivers, 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.
Individuals involved in small boat or float craft use for research should review the OSU Boating Checklist, contact the DBSO directly and then complete an Application for OSU Scientific Boating Certification and an OSU Vessel Information Form for submission to the DBSO.
VESSEL OPERATORS- the motorboat operator’s responsibility during a research outing is safe operation of the vessel. Hazard recognition and avoidance, maintaining vessel stability, clear communications with crew, insuring appropriate PFD use by all persons onboard, and managing emergencies are examples of some of these operational priorities. Vessel safety can be compromised if the operator undertakes the additional task loading associated with conducting research. Work plans should be organized in advance and research duties assigned to appropriately prepared crew members, so as not to distract the operator from their primary responsibilities.
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 DBSO). Research paddle 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.
CREW MEMBERS- personnel on board other than the operator should be prepared to conduct the required research tasks, act as lookouts for the operator, and to execute their roles/responsibilities in the event of an emergency (man overboard, onboard fire, medical incident or injury, etc.). If possible, at least one crew member should be qualified to operate the vessel.
Vessels- small motorboats and paddle craft used for research must have the appropriate permits and be registered with the State of Oregon if applicable, and display vessel information as required. Vessels should be equipped with all mandated safety equipment, as well as any additional safety equipment appropriate for the vessel and environment. Vessels should be safely prepared and well-suited for the intended research tasks (vessel stability, vessel capacity, etc). Vessels should also operate with a current inspection covering the aforementioned items (vessel inspections can be arranged through the OSU Small Boat Safety Program), and a Vessel Information Form should be on file with the OSU Boating Safety Office.
Personal Water Craft (PWC)- PWCs are considered Class A motor vessels by the USCG and Oregon State Marine Board and at a minimum are governed by rules and regulations applicable to these types of vessels. PWC’s also have their own unique characteristics and require specific knowledge and skill sets to be operated safely for research. Individuals using PWCs for research should contact the OSU DBSO for a review of work plans and potential training needs.
Motorboats- OSU is a member of the Scientific Boating Safety Association (SBSA), and the SBSA Motorboat Operator Training Course (MOTC) represents the core competencies expected of an individual operating a small motorboat for research at OSU. MOTC content is based on the U.S. Department of Interior Motorboat Operator Certification Course (MOCC). Contact the DBSO with questions regarding MOTC training or equivalency.
Paddle Craft- 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.
Small boat research operations must include use of a Designated Shore Contact (DSC) approved by the DBSO, and use of the OSU Float Plan. Alternate formats may be used, but must incorporate equivalent information and the use of a DSC. Closed float plans with on-water time recorded are forwarded to the Boating Safety Office at the end of boating activities.