Motorboat Operator Training Course (MOTC)

MOTC students practice survival skills in San Francisco Bay


This is a basic seamanship course giving participants the first level of training required for the operation of motorboats while on the job. The course includes classroom and on-the-water instruction covering vessel preparations and trip planning, legal requirements, operating techniques, navigation, emergency procedures (obstacle avoidance, visual distress signals, fire suppression, and rescue techniques), trailering, and trailer backing. There are practical exams requiring proficiency in close-quarters boat maneuvering, rescue techniques, knot tying, and trailer backing, and a written exam requiring a minimum grade of 70 percent.

The course is 24 hours of instruction conducted over three days, full attendance is mandatory for completion. The course is open to all current SF State students, faculty and staff. The only pre-requisite is that you must have a valid drivers license and must be able to tread water while wearing a Coast Guard approved life vest.


Fire suppression demonstration



  • Provide attendees with specific skills and knowledge that will allow them to make an informed decision about their own safety, the safety of any crew member, as well as the safety of the vessel.
  • Familiarize attendees with state-of-the-art watercraft safety equipment and other gear, through demonstration and actual use.
  • Allow attendees to demonstrate, through written examination and physical demonstration, that they have adequate grasp of motorboat handling techniques and knowledge to safely operate a motorboat in a normal work environment.


Students learn rescue techniques on San Francisco Bay

Summarized Schedule

Day 1

In-class lectures on boat orientation, required equipment, navigational rules, aids to navigation, VHF radios, institution, state and federal regulations, pollution control, invasive species and survival techniques. The first day culminates with an in-water swim (life vests provided), demonstration of rescue techniques and use of survival equipment.


Day 2

Hands on demonstrations of visual distress signals, fire suppression, boat and engine maintenance, propellers and anchors, trailers and towing vehicles. Students break up into teams and will be introduced to the operation of different types of boats and trailers.


Day 3

Students practice safe boat handling including high speed and low speed maneuvers, approaching objects, docking and line handling and boat trailering. On water exercises culminate in a simulated rescue scenario. A final written exam is required with a passing grade of 70%.