Watercraft use and administration

This webpage provides guidance to faculty, staff, and students in the College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences on policies and procedures for the use and management of watercraft for research, teaching, or other university activities. The goal of the webpage is make information from a number of University of Maine and University of Maine System administrative offices easily available to watercraft users. Also provided is information on policies, procedures, and recommendations of the College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences

Watercraft users should recognize that academic or research units may have unit-specific policies (e.g., Darline Marine Center Marine Operations Manual).

For the purposes of this webpage, watercraft includes all motorized or non-motorized craft used on water including but not limited to commercial vessels, boats, skiffs, canoes, kayaks, inflatable boats, rafts, zodiacs, and float tubes.

Some guidance and procedures summarized on this webpage are directly related to formal policies or administrative procedures of university or system offices (e.g., Department of Safety and Environmental Management, University of Maine Purchasing, UMS Risk Management and Insurance). Web links to policy documents and administrative practice letters are provided when available as well as contact information for administrative offices. In some cases, the website summarizes routine administrative practices not easily documented. Watercraft users are strongly encouraged to review source policy and procedure documents and contact appropriate administrative offices for additional input as needed. Other questions or comments on this webpage can be directed to Fred Servello, Associate Dean for Research, fred.servello@maine.edu.

This webpage is in development and incomplete. Available information or links to relevant sources can be found in the active links below.




Accepting Donated Watercraft

Acceptance of a donated watercraft requires approval of the dean and academic unit. chair/director. Input may be required from the Department of Safety and Environmental Management, Purchasing Office, and Gift Processing Office prior to a decision. Please do not make commitments before discussions with appropriate administrators or university offices.

Gifts of watercraft must be directly related to the mission of the university or readily convertible to cash to support the university’s mission. Other factors include estimated cost of future maintenance, storage issues, availability of qualified operators, and condition of the watercraft from a safety perspective.

Please contact Elizabeth Erickson (581-1145, elizabeth.erickson@maine.edu), a senior development officer in the university’s Development Office with responsibility for the College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences, when initiating discussions about a donated watercraft or considering disposal of a gift for cash.

Gifts and disposals must be reported to the Gift Processing Office prior to acceptance or action:
Ray Moreau, Associate Executive Director, Gift Processing

Please be aware of the following:

Specific IRS rules exist for contributions of boats that may limit the donor’s charitable deduction. The IRS imposes significant additional reporting requirements on the university for these contributions. Cooperation with Gift Processing to meet IRS rules is essential to ensure the donor receives appropriate tax deduction for the donation and to avoid financial penalties.
It is the responsibility of the donor to provide an estimated value of an in-kind gift, preferably through an appraiser. University personnel with expertise in a given field may estimate values for university purposes only and not for the donor.
For donations valued in excess of $5,000, the donor may request that the university complete the “donee” portion of IRS form 8283 to confirm receipt of the gift. Only Gift Processing is authorized to do this.
Any acknowledgment of a noncash gift may include a description, but not the value of the item. If the donor maintains partial interests in or ownership of a property, the use of the property cannot be claimed as a donation.
Retain ALL correspondence about the gift, even the envelopes.

Additional information

See Administrative Practice Letter V
See “Gift-in-Kind Information”

Disposal or Transfer of Watercraft

Procedures for Unwanted Watercraft
Consult with the chair/director of the academic unit or research unit prior to disposal of unwanted watercraft. Be aware that specific requirements apply if the watercraft was received as a donation. Consult the Gift Processing Office in these situations (Ray Moreau, Associate Executive Director, Gift Processing, rmoreau@maine.edu, 581-4579).

Once disposal is approved, contact the university’s property officer (Michael Talon, 581-2687 Michael.talon@maine.edu) to arrange sales between departments, general sales, or disposal of property with no cash value. The following steps apply:

  1. Cash value of item is determined. If the item has no cash value, the department contacts the Sustainability Office for recycling or disposal (581-3300 ext 2).
  2. The Property Office handles setting price, advertising, and methods of disposal, and will determine if “item purchased with federal funding” procedures apply.
  3. The department retains possession of the watercraft and shows it to prospective buyers directed to the department by the Property Officer.
  4. Buyer pays the selling department directly, a check being the preferred payment method.
  5. Department deposits the entire amount into their account via a Schedule of Collections. Copy of the check and Schedule of Collections is sent to Property Officer.
  6. The buyer is responsible for moving the equipment and all associated costs.

Procedures Related to Faculty Member (Boat Owner) Departure
Disposition of watercraft upon faculty retirement or departure from the university is at the discretion of the academic unit chair/director.

Procedures Related to Transfers within the University
For items over $5000, Mike Talon tracks location and disposition. Complete an Equipment Location Change Form. For items under $5000, the academic unit tracks location and disposition. If the department wishes to use university identification tags, they can be obtained from Mike Talon.

Additional Information
Surplus property section of the Purchasing web page

Registration Requirements

Any boat (including canoes and kayaks) or personal watercraft (e.g., jet ski) needs to be registered with the state of Maine. Motorized boats also need an annual “Preserve Maine Waters” (milfoil) sticker. For university or federally owned watercraft, these are free of charge.

Send all original paperwork (purchase or donation) to Mike Hambrock (581-2645, Service Building Garage, Motor Pool; hambrock@maine.edu). He will take care of securing the registration and milfoil sticker and handle annual renewal.

Contracting Boats & Operators

It you plan to charter boat service, it is important to consult with the university Purchasing Office with plenty of lead time. Contractual agreements are required and the process may include an insurance status review, determination of independent contractor status, and setting up vessel operators as vendors in the university system for payment. Contact Michael Noblet, Director, Purchasing Office or his staff.

Per the University of Maine Watercraft Operations Policy (link), non-university vessels used by or carrying university personnel, including students, shall meet safety requirements or other external regulations applicable to the type of operation. When chartering boats in other countries, faculty members or principle investigators are responsible to ensure compliance with university watercraft policies

Boat Equipment Requirements

The University of Maine Watercraft Operations Policy has general policies on boat equipment requirements. Please review this policy document.

Some key points related to equipment requirements from the policy include:

  • The vessel operator is responsible for ensuring that the vessel, vessel system, and boat equipment are operating properly before departure.
  • Applicable vessels must carry all of the safety equipment required by state and federal law and university policies.

Operator Training

The University of Maine Watercraft Operations Policy includes a section on Training Requirements.  Please review the entire policy document and the section on training requirements.

The College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences plans to provide additional guidance on meeting training requirements in the future.

Boat Plans

The University of Maine Watercraft Operations Policy includes a section on Float Plans. Please review the entire policy document and the section on float plans.

Towing Boats

Be aware that trailers owned by the University of Maine can only be towed by university-owned vehicles.

The College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences plans to provide additional guidance on transportation of boats in the future.

Non-university Passengers

Examples of non-university passengers in university watercraft include visiting researchers, members of the media, research sponsors, K-12 students, and members of the general public. The responsible university faculty, staff member, or student must assess ensure compliance with all applicable requirements of the University of Maine Watercraft Operations Policy (link) for passenger safety and training. The risk assessment and training must be documented. For visiting researchers, sponsoring faculty members must ensure that researchers have workers compensation and liability insurance coverage from their institutions. Administrative contact?

Loaning Watercraft

In general watercraft may not be loaned to private individuals or groups. However, use by individuals or groups may be permissible as part of a university sponsored activity. Please consult with your academic unit chair/director. University employees and students may not borrow university watercraft for private use.

Loans of university watercraft to cooperating agencies and organizations and visa versa may be permissible, but require a contractual arrangement between the university and cooperating entity. Administrative contact?

Risk Management and Liability

The University of Maine Watercraft Operations Policy includes a section on the responsibilities of the vessel operator, passengers or crew members, department chairs, directors, or other supervisors; and the Department of Safety and Environmental Management.

Questions about risk management should be directed to the University of Maine System Office of Risk Management and Insurance. The contacts are Bill Kelley (Risk Manager, 207-973-3331, bill.kelley@maine.edu) and Helen Chamberland (Administrative Specialist, 207-973-3332).

The University of Maine System carries insurance for general liability, educator legal liability, and vehicles. Contact the Office of Risk Management and Insurance for specific information on how these apply to watercraft and watercraft-related activities.