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Private Boats and Watercraft

Photo of Man in Kayak

General Information

  • There are no size restrictions on private boats. Boats must be BIA rated and in the judgment of City reservoir staff be seaworthy.
  • All applicable safety equipment must accompany the vessel (flotation devices (life jackets), fire extinguishers, etc.)
  • Per state regulation, all recreational vessels less than 16 feet in length, including canoes and kayaks, must carry a Type I, II, III or V wearable personal flotation device for each person on board. Requirements for vessels 16 feet or longer are a life jacket for each person on board, plus one throwable flotation device (a Type IV cushion or ring buoy).
  • Anyone under 13 years of age must wear a life jacket at all times while underway.
  • All boats with motors must have a current CF vessel registration number.
  • Boats shall not exceed the posted speed limits.
  • Dogs are NOT permitted on boats.
  • Maximum number of people allowed per boat depends on the size of the boat and shall not exceed the manufacturer's rating.
  • All private boats (including canoes and kayaks) must purchase a private boat use permit for each day.
  • No private boats are permitted on Barrett or Upper Otay reservoirs.
  • Boats with toilets or sinks are not permitted.

Jet Boats

All vessels are required to have proper muffling that meets State noise standards. Jet boats shall not be louder than 82 decibels.

Personal Watercraft (Jetskis, Waverunners, etc.)

Personal watercraft (Jetskis, Waverunners, etc.) are permitted on El Capitan Reservoir only. For more information, see Personal Watercraft.

San Vicente allows three-person personal watercraft (jet skis) to tow skiers or inflatables in the waterski zone.


Catamarans are permitted during the general recreation season at City reservoirs under the same conditions applicable to all other accepted craft.


Sailboats of all classes shall be permitted during normal operating hours except those vessels considered unstable or easily capsized.

Stand Up Paddleboards

Stand Up Paddleboards are currently not permitted on any reservoir.

Canoes and Kayaks

Canoes and kayaks are permitted on days the reservoirs are open for fishing.


Inflatable boats with the following characteristics are permitted during the general recreation season at City reservoirs under the same conditions applicable to all other accepted craft:

  • Discernible bow and stern (as opposed to life rafts)
  • Rigid floor/floorboards
  • Multiple air chambers (at least three)
  • Heavy duty material/construction
  • U.S. Coast Guard approval/rating


Boardsailing will be allowed during the regular recreation schedule at Hodges only on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Boardsailing recreation will reflect several changes since it was last offered in 2008:

  • Periodic patrols will be conducted by City reservoir staff.
  • All vessels, including boardsailing boards, must be inspected for quagga mussels by City reservoir staff at the Quagga Inspection Station prior to entering the reservoir (Quagga Inspection Station is located near the boat launch ramp).
  • All boardsailers must sign a waiver of liability (waiver available at the Quagga Inspection Station) prior to entering the reservoir.
  • All boardsailers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device.
  • $7.00 launch fee must be paid at the electronic pay station or iron ranger located near the Quagga Inspection Station prior to entering the reservoir.
  • The former boardsailing parking area by the new pump station is unavailable due to safety concerns.
  • Boardsailers may enter the reservoir from the boat launch ramp or shoreline.
  • No one, including recreational users, may disturb any vegetation or other natural feature along the Hodges shoreline.
  • All reservoir Rules and Regulations must be followed at all times. These rules are available from staff at the Quagga Inspection Station and at kiosks near the concession building.


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