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What steps to become a boat captain?

Discussion in 'Liveaboards and Charter Boats' started by DCali, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. DCali

    DCali Garibaldi

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    I'm a 22 year old instructor who wants to work towards getting her captains certification. And which cert do I want? 6-Pack? I don't have a lot of boat time as I teach in DC. How should I go about accummulating the at-sea hours. And then what next? A prep course then test? Enlighten me :)
     
  2. jeffrey-c

    jeffrey-c Nassau Grouper

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    Location: San Diego
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    Most people study through a course such as those taught here (there are many out there):

    http://www.marinersschool.com/

    The sea hours requirement is often the biggest hurdle, and you need to have documentable hours. The good thing is that waiting tables on a harbor cruise boat could actually count. This is a bit scary if you think about it - a person can collect the sea time, study and pass the test, and have an official USCG Captain's License without ever being behind the helm!
     
  3. mike_s

    mike_s Solo Diver

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    Actually, the Coast Guard requirements say "365 days experience Operating the vessel". I don't think that waiting tables matches that requirement. Working as a deckhand who might get to do some piloting under the supervision of a captain would though.

    http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/nmc/pubs/msm/v3/c13.htm#b


    Back to the original posters question... the best way is to get a job on someone elses boat to build sea time. Work weekends. Work for free, work for tips, etc. Log all your time in the event it's ever questioned.

    A Six Pack, or OUPV (Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel) is where most folks start. This however restricts you to 6 passengers. Since many dive boats carry 10 to 20 passengers, you'll want to eventually upgrade to at least a 100 ton Masters certificate.

    You'll also want to check into liability insurance for captains duties. If something goes wrong on the boat, it's the captains fault, thus they are the ones who get sued. Just like a dive instructor gets sued if something goes wrong with a diver. Just something to think about.
     
  4. daniel f aleman

    daniel f aleman Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Austin, TX
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    Take a course, that's where you can learn the most do he most the fastest. You'll still need 365 sea days at the helm of a boat for the 6-pack, double that for the 100. You're only 22, you'll get there...
     
  5. jeffrey-c

    jeffrey-c Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego
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    When I looked into taking the captain's course a few years ago I was told by them that working on a boat in essentially any capacity applied because it was too hard to draw the line for anyone other than the person with the wheel in their hand. Someone who spent much time working out the navigation, standing watch, etc. could have far more valuable experience than someone who just manned the helm. I've also heard that in the megayacht industry there are many that work their way up to earning a captain's license by serving on the more menial jobs onboard.

    Again, I'm just going by what I was told by a senior person at one of the big schools, and they were the ones that gave the example of being able to pass all the requirements without ever actually running the boat. I certainly could be wrong - I actually hope I am, as I'd feel more comfortable knowing the standards were far higher.

    BTW, I figured that my many years of operating my own boats in Southern California would have probably built up reasonably serious sea time (I do log all my trips), but it was amazing how little actual time a weekend and occasional vacation boater can actually build up in 20 years!
     
  6. Cacia

    Cacia Divemaster

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    I am assuming you are quoting correctly, but I have to say I know many who have the hours from any time spent on the water.

    Also, I was told you could go back to 14 yrs old. It is very loose around here.

    Many scuba instructors and DM's in Hawaii earn their hours with the time on charters.

    I could be wrong, but I think there are boat owners who sign /vouch for their own time.
     
  7. JZA

    JZA Angel Fish

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    What is the international recognition of a USCG license? I'm American, but don't want to restrict my employment options to the USA. I spent time working on some liveaboards in Australia and would like to go back - could I, for example, get a USCG license and then get a job as a skipper in Queensland? Or would it be best just to get licensed in the country I want to to work?

    I heard about the STCW 95 endorsement that essentially standardizes licenses internationally, but haven't heard it from anyone with first-hand experience. I also heard an Australian license is NOT eligible for this endorsement, so as far as I can tell, an American license is valid in Australia but not the other way around (which is strange, because the required sea time is double in Australia).

    Anyone have any insight on this? It doesn't have to be related to Australia specifically, any info regarding using a USCG license abroad would be helpful.
     
  8. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    Australia does not recognize USCG licenses, nor may a non-Australia citizen get an Oz license. Same for USA. And Canada, and most countries signatory to IMO. That's why we have flags of convenience, so countries like the Marshall Islands can issue licenses without ever seeing the captain.

    If I wanted to do what you want to do, I'd consider a Yachtmaster certificate from MCA. It will let you pilot yachts in many countries. It won't work as a commercial vessel license in any IMO countries.....
     
  9. JZA

    JZA Angel Fish

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    Hi Wookie - surely you would be the first to answer, after browsing the forums on this subject, I quoted you and asked you a question on another more recent thread: http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/becoming-captain/423602-international-license.html

    The captains I worked with in Australia were Irish, South African, English, etc... if Australia does not recognize foreign licenses OR allow foreigners to get an Australian license, how did these guys do it?
     
  10. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    All crown (commonwealth) countries?

    My bad, they seem to have removed the citizenship requirement. Here is everything you want to know....
     
    JZA likes this.

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