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bradfalk 01-12-2013 03:26 PM

captains license
Hi all

question: I've been sailing my whole life (some racing as a kid- cruising whole life). I now sail with my family- wife didn't grow up sailing and mostly when we cruise it's me doing all the boat handling/docking etc. Some of that will change now that our kids are getting a bit older (8, 6 and 2) (ok maybe not the 2 y/o) and she wants to get more involved.

We do all ches bay cruising at this point. Just sold our '28 caliber and are about to close on a catalina 42 that we plan to continue cruising ches bay with and some longer trips up to block Is, etc. In 2017 we plan to split for a year with the kids and head down to the islands.

though I feel comfortable with basic navigation, boat handling and boat safety stuff, I feel like now that we plan on doing somewhat more extensive trips I need to buff not only my own knowledge but also (maybe more importantly) have my wife learn all this stuff as well. Is it reasonable to do one of the online captain's courses? Are they "good enough?" I figure if my wife and I both do the course together (with what time right?) it would be at a nice pace and (hopefully) fun to do together. BUt I don't want to waste all that money if these courses are bogus. Just don't know anything about them.

Any suggestions?



tempest 01-12-2013 04:02 PM

Re: captains license
When you say captains' course I'm assuming that you mean one that prepares you for and administers a coast guard exam. I know there are online courses out there. I believe the "Mariners" course has been around for awhile. I can't speak to it's quality or merit.
The reputable ones are not bogus. You can go to the USCG website and see which courses they have approved.

I've taken all my courses in person. I think having an instructor there, if for nothing else than the charting and plotting portion, has to be better than an online version for the ability to interact with the instructor and other knowledgeable students. I had a Royal Navy Navigator in one of my classes who was a wealth of additional information.

Keep in mind that the academic portion of the course only gets you a certificate of completion and that in order to obtain a Captain's license from the CG you will need to document your sea time and meet their minimum standards; as well as submit to a drug test, physical, eye exam etc. To operate your own vessel, you don't need a license, and it sounds like your wife wouldn't have accumulated the amount of time to obtain one.

You might want to consider a few ASA or US sailing courses or a Power Squadron course..
The Navigation courses are pretty good if you get the right instructor.
An ASA school might even work something out so that you can take the courses on your vessel.

I hope this has been of some help..

kd3pc 01-12-2013 04:02 PM

Re: captains license
most course work is to "pass" the test...and there is quite a bit of other that goes along with a, documenting both your time(s), twic cards, etc, etc, etc...

were it me, and I did, I would find an active USCG-Auxilliary and JOIN and do as much as your time allows, they will welcome the wife. Their coursework and training are superb in my experience on the Northern Neck of VA and towards Richmond. You can learn everything the 6-pack classes will offer and more....and the real bonus is that there is never a shortage of experts to SHOW you or assist you. On your boat or one of theirs. I had a master chief who has probably forgotten more than I will ever know, especially as regards lines and knots. He was one of the two people I have met who can hold a line, part in left hand and part in the right hand and throw them both behind his back and come up with a bowline with a bight, and the like.

Once finished crew and coxswain, you can take even more strenuous classes with the real CG folks.

Cheaper by far this way. Down side may be, you don't have a 6-pack license, but you will have a skill set that will allow you to easily pass the 6-pack if you decide to go that route.

Others will post their thoughts as well, I am sure.

Enjoy the C-42, a wonderful boat. Be safe.

Capt.aaron 01-12-2013 04:21 PM

Re: captains license
I don't know. Unless you plan to work as paid captain on a charter boat I don't see any reason to get the ticket. What you want is knowledge and an ASA offshore school is more hands on and much more informative of what you actually need to know. I took my six pack test 15 years ago, never sent in my paper, took off sailing. Then a few years later I decided I wanted my ticket so I took the class passed the test, never sent in my paper work. took off sailing, then a few years later I decided I wanted my ticket, took the class, passed the test got my ticket, Then I decide I wanted my 100 ton, took the calss passed the test and sent in my paper work, then I decided I wanted my able seaman,. da da da, then I decided to work the tugs and needed my stcw, tankerman, radar, commercial radio opertator, 200 ton master, mate aprentice mate steersman of tow, and on and on and on and you know what? None of it made me a better or more experienced sailor or navigator. Going out and doing it did. My 100 ton buddy said his ASA instructors course was harder than his captains test. There is this one ASA outfit that runs out of Ft.lauderdale or Miami that goes to the Bahamas for like a week or two, you'll learn more on that boat than some on line coasty prep class. The point is to be the most knowlegeable skipper for the safety of your family, not be employable credentialy.

brokesailor 01-12-2013 04:36 PM

captains license
Brad where do you sail out of?

bradfalk 01-12-2013 05:15 PM

Hey thanks guys-- really helpful. So my takeaway from this is that the online course/6 pack etc is not what I need/want. I didn't realize that's really for people who want to commercially skipper/charter. I basically just want to officially "learn" the stuff that I've always just known from growing up cruising with the family etc. now that I've got a family of my own I want to be the safest most responsible sailor I can be and have my wife do the same. So I think those courses are probably overkill and perhaps i'll check out the CG auxiliary and ASA stuff since all I really want to do is learn- not get any kind of official ticket etc.

We keep the boat where I grew up in Annapolis- but live about 1:45h (ok so it's exactly 1:52h door to dock!) outside Philadelphia. So online is an attractive option given the travel issue.

thanks again for your input.


(Ches sailors- keep an eye out for "BAILA" C42!! Still have a sea trial/survey to go but looking good...).

sailingfool 01-12-2013 05:24 PM

Re: captains license
54 Attachment(s)
I'd say get yourself and your wife on as a delivery crew or a week offshore and you'll leanr what you need sot learn, which is quite different from the largely regualtory matters in a captain's classroom course.

eherlihy 01-12-2013 08:37 PM

Re: captains license
I'm gonna jump in here and risk hijacking the thread:
I am currently in my Ft Myers, FL home, and will be here until March. I was laid off last week. I ALREADY have my TWIC. Can anyone recommend a course, or plan of action, to get my captain's license while I'm "between jobs" in Ft Myers?

tempest 01-12-2013 08:52 PM

Re: captains license
The Twic is good to have but it's no longer required for licenses.

Sea School has a class that starts on January 18th in Cape Coral.

You can try the online course at Mariners.

Tanley 01-12-2013 10:03 PM

Re: captains license

Originally Posted by Tempest (Post 974696)
The Twic is good to have but it's no longer required for licenses.

Can you elaborate on this? According to the USCG website, the TWIC is still a requirement:


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