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Old 03-30-2010
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Lightbulb Help a Writer

Hello, I am a writer doing a short story. I wanted to ask a few questions to have as realistic a story as possible. There is a pivotal moment where my character gets his sailing certification revoked. So:

I know a sailing certification means you are allowed to sail in US waters, but is that all? Does it also work as a sort of license or is that different?

What happens when a person gets their sailing certification revoked? What could cause this? My character gets his revoked because he cannot prove he set did not set his own yacht on fire nor that he has insurance, are these realistic?

Who would be in charge of revoking it?

My character can also pilot motor yachts, is there a separate license or certification for that? Would that be affected?

Finally, would a sailing certification revoking be permanent or only temporary?

Thank you for all your help!
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Old 03-30-2010
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The only Sailing Certification in the U.S. that is considered a "license"...would be a Sail Endorsement to a U.S. Coast Guard License.

The Coast Guard would indeed revoke your license if you intentionally set fire to a vessel, but that would be the least of your problems.

You could be charged with a whole boatload of criminal charges...arson, intentionally creating a danger to navigation, etc etc.

If a person was convicted of setting a vessel on fire, they would never see a license again, and they may not see the outside of a jail cell for awhile.

As far as Motor Yachts are concerned, they are not separate lose one you lose em all. The Sailing part of the license, is an endorsement to your license.

The licenses are rated by tonnage ( size of vessel ) and the navigable waters in which you are allowed to operate. This is for commercial use.

You can go anywhere you want on your own either case, you can't set fires.

No Insurance..would cover you if you destroy your own vessel, and you'd be liable for the salvage costs.
Sabre 34
Morgan, NJ

Last edited by Tempest; 03-30-2010 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 03-30-2010
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if your story gets published somewhere, let us know so we can check it out.
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Old 03-30-2010
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There are two things: First, certifications, which are nongovernmental and issued by private associations like the ASA and the USSA (google them for much more info).

They have no legal effect in themselves, but are recognized by some insurance companies for a discount, by some states as a substitute for their own required safe-recreational boating courses or tests. And charter companies may be more willing to let you go out without a captain if you have the certif. They are a creature of the last two decades, I think, there were no such associations when I learned sailing back in the '50s-'60s, now they're pretty widespread. I don't know how or if such certifs are revoked.

This is in the US. In Europe, there are some groups like the Royal Yachting Assn whose certifs may satisfy some government req'ment for being a skipper, but not in the US. Here, unless you are carrying passengers or freight *for hire*, no piece of paper is necessary from the feds (though one might by individual states), at least.

Second, if you *are* carrying pax or freight (carried or towed) for hire, or if you're on a motor/steam vessel above a fairly large tonnage/size, you need a Coast Guard license as operator or Master. They require proof of several years' experience on the right kind and size of vessels, a background check, health exam, and then you have to pass a fairly rigouous test. And yes, it can be revoked for negligence, violation of regulation, drug use, and certain crimes (all this is in title 46 of the Code of Fed Regulations, sections 10 and 12--how to get a license and what's required for each type, and there are many types), and in section 5 (how to get it suspended or revoked).

This latter may be what your character is looking for, I don't know. Like a charter sail skipper who screws up or does something criminal, and the Coast Guard goes after his license.

And insurance companies can urge prosecution after you made a fraudulent claim (like the accidental fire or sinking that wasn't)

My knowledge may be somewhat dated or even inaccurate so get several opinions. But in a former life I was a Coast Guard investigating officer who prosecuted the occasional license proceeding. I also hold such a license for boats of less than 100-tons, and part-time I teach sailing.

That's the nutshell version, ask again if you want. But I want a free copy when you're done...;-)
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Old 03-30-2010
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I believe that the coast guard master's license that is described above is probably what you are looking for. Chances are that your character has something like a 100 ton master's license with an aux sail endorsement. The description given by nolatom is pretty good.

Licenses are not necessary on most pleasure boats but they are necessary on freight carrying vessels, passenger vessels, tugs (slightly different license) etc. Some states also have licenses that are necessary to operate in their waters. If it is something like a runabout that your character needs a license for, then a state license might be the answer.
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Old 03-31-2010
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Thank you all very much. It was a really great help in that I made the necessary changes to make it more realistic. Thanks again!
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Old 03-31-2010
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How about a six-pack license if your character is taking six or fewer passengers at a time? Many charter fishing boats use this to take small groups, and it is a must if they are using passenger proceeds to pay for the boat. I believe it can be revoked for significant boater violations. I thought that a DUI auto conviction would also revoke your six-pack license, but i might be wrong...

OUPV License - The Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (also known as the Six Pack License) course prepares you to meet the qualification requirements for a US Coast Guard OUPV License. The OUPV License allows you to take up to 6 passengers for hire on an uninspected vessel.
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