ASA-105 to USCG 6-pack
In December, I did the ASA-105 navigation class and I found it challenging but very well done and very helpful. I did very well on the final exam. At the same time, I signed up to take a USCG-approved license class from an independent USCG-approved school.
Basically, the first half of the USCG course (nav general and chartplotting) is exactly what ASA-105 is - at least in topical coverage. So far, it's been a very disappointing class. The text is horribly written (it's not even pre,pre,pre rough draft stage IMO), with tons of type-os and wrongly worded questions (and answers). The material is taught at a much more elementary level than ASA as well. For example, I have yet to see a "doubling the bow angle" problem that didn't involve 45 and 90 degrees. And of course you're always going 6kt and the time is 30 minutes. I honestly don't think any of the other students besides me know it can be done doubling ANY angle. Also, there are three different teachers and two of them have never seen this text before and are as confused and perplexed and tripped up by the mistakes as we are.
I had expected this to be an advancement to my knowledge but it's really turning out to be a very elementary review. Another pretty shocking thing to me is that the test will be all multiple-choice answers - even the chart plotting part! The guy next to me said last night "boy I'm glad this is all multiple choice". I said "yeah - good thing the decisions on the boat are multiple choice too".
It's also a damn expensive class. I've read way ahead into the rules of the road and deck-general parts and there is material there that will be new to me. But it still seems like a very elementary coverage compared to what you can read in Chapman's for example. I think that what I'm really paying for is the test itself and whatever help the teachers will give in preparing my application. In hindsight though, I think I would opt for an on-line USCG-approved school. I figure that way I could sample some of the learning materials and get an idea of the quality first.
I'm not going to say what school this is because I'm not out to bash anyone. I actually do like and respect the instructors. I just think they have a really poorly made curriculum. What I don't understand why the CG lets these approved schools make their own curriculum. These guys are fishermen, sailors and charter operators, not instructional designers and authors. I think the ASA model makes so much more sense - a standard curriculum taught by approved schools with real-world difficult test questions. I'm just curious if anyone else has done these two courses and had the same experience and perception. Maybe it's just me. Hopefully by the end of 2012, I'll have my license and this will be but a unpleasant memory.
I went out to dinner a few days ago.
They padded my check, my girlfriend has food poisoning, even the dog got sick from the leftovers. The chef through a knife at me when I sent something back. The owner threatened to have me arrested if I didn't pay for the bottle of wine I never ordered nor did I drink.
The bus boy seemed nice so I don't want to say anything bad about the place.
I did them both a number of years ago. I found the ASA nav test to be more challenging than the CG exam given by the License school I attended. I had a former Royal Navy Navigator in my class who I learned as much from as I did my instructor ( who was excellent) .
With regard to CG course and the other material covered, I suppose alot depends on the instructor. My CG license instructor was a 20 year CG officer, with a wealth of knowledge and experience and good instructional skills.
The class I was in was fairly large ( at least 20 ) with a pretty diverse group of mariners. It made for some lively discussions and exchanges of information. I would not have traded it for an online course.
I'm guessing that it's more the instructors than you. It sounds like I was lucky.
you will find the USCG nav test comparable to the ASA exam, so no sweat. You will find the USCG Navrules exam far more difficult than the material in ASA tests, and getting the 90% requires that you know the stuff cold. I dont think any one class can do this material justice, you need to study/cram/flash cards/sample exams until you are blue in the face. I also recommend the Weems&Plath light rule card for route learning of vessel lights Weems & Plath Light Rule Quick Reference Vessel Id - 190 - BoatersWorld.com
The USCG Deck and General covers stuff us recreational boaters never see and is way too broad to really study, yet study yet alone learn. What you do need to learn is how to find stuff in the CFRs which will be in the room, understanding the types of stuff that are in the CFRs and how to find answers when you otherwise have no clue, is what you need to learn.
PS - if you'd like, you can borrow my Weems&Plath light rule card until you're done...it worked for me...
Thanks everyone! Much appreciated. I actually ordered the rule card yesterday. The next two or three classes are just doing practice chart-plotting problems (which I've already done on my own). The Rules part starts after that. I will study/practice/cram/ etc etc!
One technical question - what's your opinion on Correcting Deviation of a bearing taken with a hand-bearing compass? The USCG class teaches that you correct it using the *Ship's compass's* deviation table. I guess the idea is that whatever local magnetism affects the ship's compass will at least *similarly affect the h/b compass. Seems like a stretch to me.
In ASA, we were taught that since you really can't know the h/b's deviation, you ignore it. In fact there were test questions where some LOP bearings were shot with the ship's compass and some were shot with a h/b. The idea was that you would TVMDC the ship's compass but only TVM the h/b. The USCG class test questions assume you will TVMDC all bearings no matter if shot from the ship's compass or a hand bearing. I tend to agree with ASA on this one but I'll play by CG rules for this test. Any thoughts on this difference of opinion?
I haven't taken the ASA class, studied on my own with some written course material and passed the USCG. It was a royal pain and I strongly advocate anyone considering it to take a class. It sounds like you unfortunately got a bum class. I would have retained much more useful info. if I hadn't had to study/cram everything because I didn't know what might be on the test (14,000 quiz questions!). I have a friend that teaches classes and will be taking a one day review for renewal this spring from him, I'm looking forward to interaction with other people there. As has been said here, the rules section is rough, and the deck section was unfamiliar to me so it was difficult too (although I expect this would have been an easy section had I taken a class).
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