Three VICE Lab researchers got the opportunity to work with James Fitzgerald from the UC Davis Bodega Bay Marine Lab, taking his Motorboat Operator Training Course.

James Fitzgerald is the standing UC Davis Boat Safety Officer, and was instrumental in teaching our VICE Lab researchers the basics of boat mechanics, nagivation, knot tying, and general water safety. James parters with local UC Davis students and staff as well as UC Davis Bodega Bay firefighters to run this program, offering unique learning opportunities including how to run rescue drills, form huddles in water (see image below), and how to perform evasive maneuvers.

The experience is as much a team-building one as it is a safety-training course: the VICE Lab members were lodged in Bodega Bay Marine Lab housing throughough the four day program, all eating together and sharing stories along the way. In the end, this program allows VICE Lab researchers to flourish and open themselves to new paths of research utilizing motorboats and skiffs to collect data and conduct experiments, all while being safe and knowledgeable along the way.


The MOTC is an entry-level watercraft safety course recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior, and the Scientific Boating Safety Association as a professional standard for boat operator certification on agency small boats. The course includes classroom lectures on boat orientation, required and recommended equipment, aids to navigation, rules of the road, knot tying, risk management and radio protocols. Participants will practice using safety equipment as well as survival and rescue techniques in the pool. The pool temperature will be approximately 60 F, please bring the necessary swimwear and a towel, wetsuits are strongly encouraged.

Subsequent days include field lectures, hands on training in boat maneuvering, trailer backing, vessel launch and recovery, fire suppression, visual distress signals, and basic seamanship. The course also covers introductions to anchoring, beaching, and towing.

Learn more here!