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MBNMS Regulations for MPWC at Zone 5 (Mavericks)

For a PDF download summarizing this page (including a zone map), please click here (400KB PDF).

New Regulatory Changes

Definition (15CFR922.131):
Motorized personal watercraft (MPWC) means:

  • any vessel, propelled by machinery, that is designed to be operated by standing, sitting, or kneeling on, astride, or behind the vessel, in contrast to the conventional manner, where the operator stands or sits inside the vessel;
  • any vessel less than 20 feet in length overall as manufactured and propelled by machinery and that has been exempted from compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard's Maximum Capacities Marking for Load Capacity regulation found at 33 CFR Parts 181 and 183, except submarines1; or
  • any other vessel that is less than 20 feet in length overall as manufactured, and is propelled by a water jet pump or drive.

New Zone (15CFR922.132(a)(7):
Zone 5 at Pillar Point (see attached map) exists only when a High Surf Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service and is in effect for San Mateo County during December, January, or February. MPWC operators transiting to/from Zone 5 must use the 100-yard wide access route between the Pillar Point Harbor entrance, Bell Buoy "3", and Gong Buoy "1". MPWC operators at Zone 5 must remain east and north of Gong Buoy "1" and west and south of Sail Rock, using line-of-sight visual referencing.

High Surf Warning (HSW)—National Weather Service

  1. The National Weather Service began issuing HSWs in 2006. HSWs are based upon predicted 20-foot breaking waves at the coastline in Central CA. High Surf Warnings are NOT High Surf Advisories. High Surf Warnings predict the most severe surf conditions.
  2. HSWs typically occur less than 10 times per year2
  3. The Weather Service issues HSWs 24-36 hours in advance and usually posts specific start and end times (e.g. HSW beginning at 10 AM and ending at 4 PM (PST) on Wednesday)
  4. HSWs are issued by coastal county
  5. NOAA Weather Radio announcements for a HSW cycle about every 15 minutes and include a tone alert
  6. HSWs are posted on the Internet 24/7 here
    If the webpage has only a title and no data, then there are no current High Surf Warnings.
  7. If start or end time of a HSW changes, NWS will issue special updates
  8. NWS updates forecasts and warnings every 12 hours at a minimum, but more typically update every 4-6 hours.


  1. Any vessel exempted from USCG load capacity testing requirements will not have a USCG Maximum Load Capacity placard (capacity plate) attached to the visible interior of the hull.. Most conventional boats are required to have this placard. Absence of a valid placard may qualify a vessel as an MPWC under this definition.
  2. Issuance of a HSW would not necessarily mean that swell direction and winds are at the right attitudes and intensities to produce desired breakers at a given location.

For a PDF download summarizing this page (including a zone map), please click here (400KB PDF*).