Small vessel Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Safe Operating Procedures (SOP’s) are an important aspect of ensuring that you are boating safely and meeting the regulatory obligations as set out by Transport Canada.

To assist in meeting these regulatory obligations, Transport Canada has created templates for common operating and emergency procedures.  These templates can be downloaded and amended to reflect your own research or teaching purposes, then utilized to train your crew.

It is recommended to keep your SOP’s in a binder, update as needed and add new checklists as they are completed, allowing for an archive of everything that you have done to operate safely as well as a schedule that will let you plan and keep a record of routine maintenance and checks. 

Operating procedures 


Run through this short list every time you get ready to set sail to be sure that everything is in order before you leave.


Emergency procedures

Person overboard

A coordinated effort to retrieve anyone who falls overboard quickly and safely.

Fire fighting

Contain and extinguish fires without exposing crew/passengers to unnecessary risk.


Taking on water

Respond rapidly and effectively to reduce amount of water  entering the vessel.

Pollution response

Minimize amount and spread of pollutant.

Abandon ship

Provides practice in assembling passengers and crew; donning personal protective equipment; launching safety equipment.

Forms & records

Personnel record

A collection of personal information for each staff member in case of medical or other emergency. Can be used as a record of initial training received, although a signed summary of the items reviewed is preferable.

Crew certification

Provides a handy reference of competency, marine emergency duties (MED) and first aid training certificates held by staff to easily identify crew members who have certificates that need to be renewed.

Number of persons onboard

This form is for recording and reporting the number of people on board each voyage to a responsible person ashore who can be contacted if something happens so that Search and Rescue know how many people need to be recovered.

Emergency drills

Record the date, the type of drill and who took part to show compliance with Small Vessel Regulations (Sections 419, 519, 417) and Marine Personnel Regulations.

Incident report

Report required by the Transportation Safety Board ( if vessel is involved in an incident or accident (TSB 1808 (01/10). Please work with UVic OHSE to facilitate.

Maintenance schedule

This schedule, once you have modified it to include recommended service intervals from the manufacturers, provides a combination of calendar and recommended service interval driven items to allow you to plan your maintenance so that it gets done when it should with less downtime.


Blue decal self-inspection

A systematic review to ensure compliance with key safety requirements. The Blue Decal safety program was adopted by the UVic Marine Research Committee in 2014.

Vessel records

You may want to include other vessel records in a binder:

  • Registration certificate
  • Blue Decal certification document (Human Powered Vessels not applicable)
  • Operational limits
  • Inspection records (Blue Decal or Human Powered Vessel checklists)