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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In 1-2 years I plan to sell everything I own and move to Hawaii. The ultimate goal is to work my way into being a captain of a charter boat, ideally catamaran, then save to buy my own boat to charter and see the world. While still here on the mainland I want to do everything I can to streamline this idea. I've been reading up, but I am a little confused. Most of the jobs over there require a Captains license. I've taken basic sailing lessons but otherwise have zero water experience, so the USCG experience requirements seem way far off. Should I go for a Yachtmaster license? What's the difference? I don't want to get over there and find out it's a joke......
 

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Unless you already have substantial amounts of sea time this is not going to be possible. At a minimum to operate in the US you would need a OUPV license, but this restricts you to no more than six pays passengers. For anything larger you need a tonnage license.

Tonnage licenses are broken down two ways, first by the size of the vessel (25, 50, 100) then by where (inland, coastal, near coastal). Each size/location license has its own requirements, but to operate in Hawaii you would at a minimum need a 25/Near Coastal license. The requirements for this license are as follows...

1) Must be able to document 720 days of experience on a vessel 360 of these days must have been on ocean or near coastal waters
2) Must have 90 days within the last 3 years
3) Your tonnage is determined by the U. S. Coast Guard depending on your experience for a 100 Gross Tons license, 180 days must be on vessels of 51 gross tons or above OR 180 days must be on vessels of 34 gross tons or above for a 50 gross tons license 180 days must be on a vessel of 26 gross tons or above. If all your time is on a vessel of 16 gross tons or less the license will be limited to 25 gross tons.
4) If you plan on operating an Inspected sailing vessel you must have a sailing endorsement, the required seatime for this is 360 days of sail or sail auxiliary time (these may be part of the 360 days and may be prior to license issuance.


The Yachtmaster license is a nice thing to have, and anyone working in the yacht market is wise to get both, since different ports have different requirements, and having both makes things easy. But for a US flagged ship in and out of a US state, a USCG license is a requirement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you very much, although a little disheartening, that was exactly the information that I was looking for. Guess I better get to work on logging some sea time. A long ways off but time is on my side. Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've been doing some more reading up on the experience needed. As far as I can find, for a Master Near Coastal 100gt License (which is what appears to be what I will eventually need). I'll need to figure out how to log 360 days outside USCG borders and at least 180 on a boat over 50gt. Probably working as a deck hand, which hopefully I can do when I get to Hawaii. But, the requirements for the other 360 of the 720 days experience are pretty loose. (on a boat over 16ft and going back to the age of 14). Is there any reason that I can't log my family's 19ft ski boat to satisfy those days? I've probably taken it out over 500 times on over a dozen different bodies of water. Am I missing something?
 

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Is there any reason that I can't log my family's 19ft ski boat to satisfy those days? I've probably taken it out over 500 times on over a dozen different bodies of water. Am I missing something?
You have to be able to document the sea time. I believe that the definition of sea time means away from the dock (and documented as such) for at least 6 hours. I could be wrong on the #hours, but that's what I've been told by a USCG captain on our dock.

To put it in perspective, I've been on the water actively sailing, boating, diving, and related for over 45 years and have over 15000 sea miles. But can't document any of it except for a very small portion. It has to be documented (i.e., written down) and the USCG is stringent on what that constitutes (IMO, for good reason).
 

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If you own the boat, you can self-document your use of the boat. All that this requires is your completed CG-719S form, and a copy of your registration/documentation for the period of time that you are documenting.
 

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I'm wondering why a "6-pack" OUPV license (for which you need only a year's time of 8-hour days) wouldn't serve your purpose while you continue to get the rest of your time for an "inspected vessel" license such as the 50 or 100-ton Master of auxiliary sail (and steam and motor).

And if you're going to carry more than 6 paying passengers, you will also need to be doing it on a Coast Guard-inspected vessel, meaning a lot of design and building requirements (under 46CFR subchapter "T") which your dream catamaran may not have.

Counting time? I had to add in the rowing time going out to the mooring and back to get enough, but they accepted it. This was 30-odd years ago, though.
 

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The definition of a 'day' is a little odd. I have never seen and actual definition from the CG, just rumors of how it works. In my experience I have never seen a license denied for lack of days, but I have seen them whack off some. In my case they disallowed some day trips while allowing others, and counted some that were on boats under 16'. Luckily I had a few hundred extra days logged so it wasn't a big issue.

Frankly I am of the opinion that they just don't care all that much about these small licenses for recreational users. Unless you have experience working commercial ships no company will hire you to operate their vessels, so it's pretty clear from the application that you will be working small recreational vessels and I think just let it slide. So long as it seems like you are a reasonable operator.

This is doubly true for an OUPV. where the most common holder is running fishing charters in a small day boat. No real fear of a major environmental spill or loss of life while shoreline fishing.

The first license they seem to be serious about is the 200tonn. Since that is the first 'ocean' license, where you can go out of range of a helicopter.
 

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yeah and that's where STCW kicks in as well, at 200 tons. Why 100 tons is great for us desk-jockeys and rag sailors or occasional fill-in mate or second captains on the larger (99 gross ton) crewboats aka dive boats.

Anyway, way back when I was a Coast Guard marine inspector, the jingle was, "you can drown six--you can't drown seven". Both humans and boats need bigger certification for seven-plus.

Plus I'm not sure a lot of sail charter operators (meaning individuals with their own boat, not larger companies) really want more than 6 passengers at a time, nor do they want the expense and regulation of a COI. So I'm wondering if OP couldn't make do with a 6-pack while working and gathering time for something bigger, whether license, certificated boat, either, both.
 

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In Hawaii I would expect boats to be bigger, and by the time you get to a charter boat larger enough to crew charter instead of bareboat you are probably already talking about 6 passengers at a minimum. Someone brings a kid and all of a sudden you have to get a new captain onboard. Legally fine, but as a business practice a pain. So I would imagine that most of the charter companies are looking for someone with at least a 25tonn just to make their life easier.

The other issue of course is that charter companies know that someone with just an OUPV has pretty limited experience with bigger boats, and are likely to be gun shy about hiring someone to operate their boats with such a small license.

Certainly get the OUPV as soon as possible, and start logging time on larger boats (you would be amazed at how small a boat qualifies for the 100 ton).
 

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You don't "need" to have time on a 50t boat to get your license, they will just adjust your tonnage based on what you have time on. I just had time (self documented) on our 34' and smaller sailboats and qualified for a 50t license. Obviously bigger is better but you can get a 25-50t license and work your way up from there if you can self document the 720 days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all for your input. I just got off the phone with a gentleman in Maui who posted an ad on craigslist looking for a captain. He said that if I can attain a 100 tonn Near Coastal license I would be hired in a day. So I suppose thats the route I'll take. Continuing sailing lessons here in Portland starting next week to log more days, gotta figure out how to get off-shore for a while. I'm assuming once I get over there I'll need to cut my teeth under someone and learn the waters anyway. If I can get on the right boat, I should be able to kill two birds.

My biggest obstacle, as far as I can see, is the stipulation that "The operator must have at least 360 days of on the water experience outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast". I cannot seem to find those boundry lines defined anywhere. Can anyone elaborate on that? A determined distance off-shore?
 

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people lie and fib all the time to get the 100 tonner...in retrospect its a very blase license with no hands on certification....



there is no way the cg checks for it...or enforce it...they do on the bigger ones where there is a huge step up in difficulty getting the 200 ton.

I got my 50 tonnner way back when based on the boats I sailed on...none of which where anywhere near 50 or 100 tons...

biggest being around 20.

when I got mine, I had the skippers of the boats I crewed on stamp and procure a log book of days worked on, or passage times...

then I had my log book on my travels on my boat...
I also counted days when I was much younger...basically it counts.

then took the classes paid up and bobs your uncle, went searching for jobs, in ft.lauderdale out of places and got nothing, even as crew it was real hard. jajaja

maybe times have changed or something

good luck
 

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My biggest obstacle, as far as I can see, is the stipulation that "The operator must have at least 360 days of on the water experience outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast". I cannot seem to find those boundry lines defined anywhere. Can anyone elaborate on that? A determined distance off-shore?
The boundary line is delineated here.
 
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So basically any time out in the ocean should count?
Pretty much.

And keep in mind that a when the USCG talks about tonnage it has to do with Gross Tonnage, which is a measurement of cargo capacity, not displacement. This leads Naval Architects to play all sorts of games to make sure a boat measures in at 99 tons, or 199 tons.
 

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yup make sure your pee is kosher too!

they have made it harder now regarding the pee with some people being denied by using prescription medication...

some meds are not allowed...and even though they dont inhibit you they are enough to fail the test.
 

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Yeah, passing the physical exam is much more reviewed and picked over than before. You can thank the fairly recent COSCO BUSAN bridge allision in SF and the Staten Island Ferry casualties for embarrassing the Coast Guard into tightening up their medical standards and review, particularly as to prescription medications.

It's all in Here:

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/pdf/2008/NVIC 04-08 CH 1 with Enclosures 20130607.pdf

And the medications they hate are in Enclosure 4. Opioids and benzodiazepans a no-no. You need a good, and patient doc to trudge through the Physical exam form with you. I make two physical exam appointments: the first for the exam, the second to fill out the form.
 
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