Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University
Pacific Grove CA 93950


Hopkins Marine Station


Stanford University


Stanford Scientific Diving


Hopkins Scientific Boating


Working in the Marine Protected Area




The primary goal of the Scientific Boating Program at Hopkins is to ensure that educational and scientific boating operations using Hopkins boats and equipment are conducted in a safe and effective manner. 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.
The Diving Safety Officer acts as Boating Safety Officer (BSO) for Hopkins.

General Information:

  • Recreational boating is not permitted from the Hopkins shoreline
  • Personal boats (other than kayaks) may not be used for HMS research or coursework, either at Hopkins or off-site.
  • Personal kayak use must be approved by the BSO; non-HMS kayaks may not be stored at Hopkins.
  • Hopkins skippers (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:

Four levels of boat training and qualification are available at Hopkins, depending on the needs of the researcher or student. Skipper candidates must submit a Boating Program application, 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 thereof (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 detailed project proposal 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.

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

For 17' Whaler, 23' Grady White, and 22' Radon, use the downloadable float plan. For each departure from ramp or slip complete this form and submit it to the BSO at least 24 hours before your intended launch -- and give a copy to your designated shore contact. If your trip is expected to extend beyond the estimated return time, notify your shore contact. Remember to close out your float plan by notifying your shore contact upon your return to the slip or ramp that you designate in the float plan.

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

Boating Safety Courses and additional information:

Minimum requirement:

BoatU.S. Online California Boating Safety course (free)
California Safe Boating Course (free)

Additional training:
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Skills and Seamanship


External Resources:

Scientific Boating Safety Association

NWS Marine weather- Central CA (Central CA marine forecast)

NWS Marine Weather- Monterey Bay (Monterey Bay marine forecast)

Monterey tides

Trailer Tips (CA Dept of Boating and Waterways)

"Grog's Animated Boating Knots"

ABCs of the California Boating law (quick reference, CA Dept. of Boating and Waterways site)

US Coast Guard Boating Safety (general safety information)

BoatU.S. Foundation (general safety information)



NAMMO LIAB AB Orange Smoke Hand Distress Signal no longer USCG approved 5/19/2016