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post #11 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I really scratch my head over the experience requirement. I can think of at least two people that have the 6 pack that would not seem to have had it. Do people just retroactively make these logs? I'm sure I have the experience, but would have to recreate most of it. In 40 years, I only started bothering in the last 5 to 10 and then I skip every other passage, especially those that remain in the Bay.
Correct, the CG captures sea service on form CG-7195. For better or worse, they aren't looking for the actual log books. BTW, if it's your first time qualifying for the license, you can go back to age 15 for sea service.
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post #12 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

30 years ago, I passed the exam for a 100-ton motor/sail license after buying a two-book set from these folks:


I recall the books were 40 bucks back then, no doubt more now? I felt well-prepared and as long as you are capable with paperwork and long applications and physical exams and drug tests on your own, I don't see why it shouldn't work for a 6-pack license.

Only thing is, nowadays the school can give the exam (not so back then?). I had to go to the Coast Guard Regional Exam Center (the REC), which fortunately was right here in New Orleans.

Advantages are you can carry passengers for hire on uninspected ("uncertificated") vessels. And you might snag a job at some charter outfit or sailing school?? Mine is good for Inspected Vessels, so I've occasionally been mate or second captain on a 100' offshore liveaboard dive boat which is useful, fun, and may be a retirement gig, who knows? The license started out as Ocean Operator but is now Master, Near Coastal.

So sit for the "biggest" license your time will justify, go for Inspected Vessels if you can, you're going to the trouble of logs, physicals, and exams anyway, you may end up with a 25 or 50-Ton license (but you need 2 years' time, and more for the auxiliary sail part too).

Last edited by nolatom; 02-11-2014 at 03:50 PM.
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post #13 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I took the class and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have passed the test without it.
The navigation part is tricky.
The rules and lights part is multiple choice but remarkably hard I thought.

There were at least two people in my class of about 16 that couldn't get it and did not pass even though I had them come to my office for a study group. (maybe because the hung out with me)

I bought all the self study stuff but found it didn't do it for me.

Also you should know I was always an A student in school but I'm over 60 so that probably cancels it out.
I know their are people who self study and pass but I suspect it is the exception not the rule. At least that is what I tell my self.

Much of it is just hard core memorization and tricky wording of multiple choice questions.

Sea experience and common sense will not be enough to pass the test. Many of the questions have two answers that are just wrong but two answers that practically would not make a difference in seamanship. One of them however is considered wrong.

Lots and lots of technical stuff where you need to know that the light has to be displayed if the boat is over 100' otherwise you get the questions wrong. Practically you are going to use radar, AIS and keep a good distance from any ships lights. It would be highly unlikely that the extra light would make a difference between you hitting a boat or not. Besides how much difference is their between a 100' ship and and 105' ship?

In defense of the class I took they made a big effort to really emphasize the real important stuff that is both needed for safety and are in the regulations while covering the tricky questions.

If I had to guess I would say that 50% of the questions are good. The other 50% are mostly tricky with two plausible answers.
So if you guess on the tricky questions you will get a 75 on the test and you need a 90 to pass.

I took it because I'm thinking I might like to teach sailing and this license is required to teach any place the CG has jurisdiction.

Also I get to wear the hat if I want to but haven't gotten up the nerve yet.
From a prestige point of view the OUVP is basically at the same level as a sheriffs badge from a cracker jack box but it is required for some jobs. Real captains are not impressed.
May as well get the hundred tonner not any more cost just more experience needed and looks better on a resume

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post #14 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

The courses are designed only to teach one to pass the test. They teach nothing you shouldn't already know before you begin. It is much like a driver's license exam, with questions worded as though to confuse you, which is why taking the course is helpful.
The written exams are multiple choice and therefor the correct answer should be (but not always; I was told to choose the closest to correct in this case??) right there in front of you. If you plan to make a profession out of this, beyond US territorial waters, you'd be a lot better served to go through the RYA system as the US small craft (under 1600 grt) tickets are worthless and unrecognized by any authority other than the USCG.
I have yet to have an insurance company discount me for any of my licenses or experience, by the way.
You may also need a TWIC card (I don't know if it's required for OUPV, but it is for any larger ticket, as is an FCC marine radio operator permit).
Anything you need to know is available at;NMC Charter Boat Captain Page

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.

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post #15 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

In this day and age when even the USN is finding cheats on nuke boats?

I wouldn't be surprised to find there was a cottage industry in buying and reselling yard queens. Those derelict boats that languish in the back of storage yards, but someone keeps paying some rent on them. Voila, you own it for two years, you write a log showing you had it on the water for 360 of them, you've just satisfied the requirements. And now you sell the carcass to the next guy, who does it again...

There's all sorts of schemes and schemers out there. Or simply numbnuts that "logged" their time while passing out fishing rods and wiping out the blige. Why should boating licenses be any more trustworthy than drivers' licenses? ($200 to pass the road test, just leave some 20's on the seat) Or I'm told that in Florida, the "road test" is done entirely in a parking lot?? With no real driving in traffic??

Or there's the other extreme, if you want to be a harbor pilot, you'd damn well better have been born from guild parents. (shrug)
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post #16 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

Requirements for OUPV - 6 Pack - License;
  • a valid TWIC
  • pass a USCG Physical
  • documentation of 360 days at sea / 90 days in the last 3 years
  • 3 Character references
  • enrollment in a random drug testing program
  • a valid First Aid / CPR certificate
  • A passing grade on the test, which includes 5 parts
    • Deck hand knowledge
    • Navigation knowledge
    • Marlinspike
    • Fire and Safety
    • Rules of the road, including Sound Signals and Dayshapes

Good luck!

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Last edited by eherlihy; 02-12-2014 at 03:05 PM. Reason: update the 5 parts of the test.
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post #17 of 31 Old 02-11-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

Home study with the various books (Wing, etc) is a tough way to go. I did it but because of the enormous amount of time I spent studying (and not knowing if I was studying the right stuff) I always recommend that someone take a class from someone with a good reputation. You will retain more practical knowledge instead of just cramming a bunch of worthless junk into your brain by taking the class. Not blowing my own horn but everyone (people at the USCG testing station, instructors, captains that I know) told me that a very, very small percentage of home schoolers end up passing. Even if you don't take a class it's still not cheap: USCG physical, Twic card, CPR class, and the testing fees all add up. Good luck on whatever you decide, but this isn't like getting a drivers license, I studied for almost four months app. 20 hours/week, and three or four 8-10 hour days just before the two day test. I wasn't planning on using the license, just got bored one winter and decided to do it for personal knowledge, invested too much time to quit by the time I realized how much time would be needed. I got a 50 ton Master with sail endorsement (additional test). One other thing; after you are rated as a Master if you are involved in an incident the USCG will hold you to a higher standard (liability).

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post #18 of 31 Old 02-12-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

I've recently(well in the last year) have fulfilled all requirements for my 25 ton OUPV.
This what you'll have to do to:

Pass the exam...highly recommend taking a course
They test you on site. $1000 depending on where you live I took it in Sausalito and decided to stay at a hotel rather than commute.

Pass a stringent Physical , 9 pages to be exact

Aquire a CPR first aid certificate $85

Submitt 3 letters of recommendation

Aquire a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Card) ID card $135 basically your background check from Homeland Security

Pass a Drug test (note the drug test must be within the last 6 months)

Submit your sea time documentation ( note you can use your own vessel for this but I recommend aquiring as much sea time as possible on other boats. You will need CF numbers boat owners signature and contact info. 360 life time 90 of the 360 in the last 3 years. "Sea days" is minimum 4-6 hours underway.) if using your own vessel for part of your sea time you will need to show proof of ownership of said vessel during the time of its use ie insurance documents, bill of sale etc...

You have 1 year once you have passed the exam to submit your application to the coastguard $148

I would also recommend submitting your application in person at the nearest coastguard regional center.

Your basically joining the merchant marines which allows for you to apply for employment on freighters etc...

Overall it cost around $3000

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Last edited by CaptainRahnn; 02-12-2014 at 05:52 AM.
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post #19 of 31 Old 02-12-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

I did this in retirement, was on my bucket list. Ended up teaching at the school for a few years, part time (pay covered my gas to drive to the school, for the fun of it). Gave me a reason to talk about boats in the off season with like minded people

Other than that, never exercised the certificate.

Yes, you will learn the rules of the road. You will get really good with paper charts, set and drift calculations, etc. You'll get exposure to people pursing careers in the maritime business, which is interesting. I learned a LOT from a retired coast guard master chief who was instructor. Met lots of interesting people in the trade.

If you plan on running a charter business, talk with people in the business before you start. From the people I know, it's not what you think it is. Similar to the guy who retires from Wall Street and buys an inn in Vermont because he went there once and had a good time. Guess he didn't notice that the owner was doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen.

I'd second the recommendation for a structured course.
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post #20 of 31 Old 02-12-2014
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re: USCG 6 Pack License

From my experience obtaining a masters near coastal 50GT, I'd say nothing about the licensing process is as it seems before you get into it, and is it not much more than time-consuming.

I did my own studying. The trick is to do enough Google research so you know what the process requires you know that you wont have picked up in 40 years of boating, e.g. what are CFRs and how do you find stuff in them.

If you have recently owned a boat for three or more years, your experience wont be questioned.

Find a hospital that does seaman physicals, and their routine may only take an hour or two and cost $100.

The only hard skill is getting 90% on the nav rules exam. Any experienced boater can get 70%, getting 90% is hard. Most of the questions relate to the rule exceptions or interpretations, so you need to know cold the Inland/International exceptions (which differ of course) and the use of will/shall/must/may within rules.

You can take the tests again and again. I got 88% on my first attempt on the nav rules exam. I studied the exceptions hard, then got the 90% on the next try a week later. Yes, the questions are different...

I could not imaging spending the walking-around time involved in all the minutia unless you have a clear commercial intent. several regards...

Last edited by sailingfool; 02-12-2014 at 10:31 AM.
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