re: USCG 6 Pack License
I have been teaching the OUPV and Master courses for over 10 years. In my experience it is well worth the tuition to take a USCG approved course as the test is then given by the school, not the CG. We know what questions are on the exams and we make sure the students are prepared. (Yes, we do teach to the exam.) Only about 10% of candidates taking the CG exams will pass on the first try, and very many will not pass on their third try. (You get three chances). After that you have to start all over, and pay the fee again. As was previously stated, many of the questions on the Rules exam are just plain tricky, not having anything to do with practical seamanship, but how well you memorized the rule book. We have to have those questions on our exams as well, but we make sure you know the correct wording to answer correctly.
I suggest to everyone that they go for 25, 50, or 100 ( depending on your sea time) Ton Master instead of OUPV (6 pack). For Inland / Great Lakes the sea time requirement 360 days on any waters, the same as OUPV, for Near Coastal it's 720 days total of which 360 was outside of the Demarcation Lines (outside of harbors & bays.) US Citizenship is also required. I know many people who were really only looking for the fishing charter license but ended up working on larger boats because they had the Master ticket.
You can go back to age 16 to document the time, but 90 days have to be in the last 3 years. You can document the seatime on your own vessel merely by proving you owned the boat and making your best guess. The CG knows we don't keep track of how many days we run our boats and will pretty much go with whatever you submit as long as it looks probable. Tell them you did 720 days in 2 years and they won't buy it. 5 years, they probably will. Be honest, but there's no way to verify if you did the time or not. Paid time documented by the employer is usually accepted without question.
Don't forget that in addition to the course or exam fee you will need a physical, drug test, and background check, and first aid / CPR card for any license. All of these have costs as well.
For more info go to the USCG licensing site: USCG.mil/nmc
Last edited by capt jgwinks; 02-12-2014 at 01:13 PM.