I’ve been off the site for a couple of days because I was prepping to start my USCG Captain’s License Course (100 Ton Master). I figure if I’m going to put my family on a small sailboat and take off for ports unknown eventually, I probably ought to have some sort of formal education at least. After doing quite a bit of research into schools online; (there’s some excellent ones, like Mariners Learning System) I thought about how I screwed up my Masters Degree (which I did online) and decided that I needed to sit down and actually do a classroom course with few other distractions, so I could get through the material and focus on the learning. This was a hard decision as it meant I had to spend two weeks in class and spend considerably more money on the course, but I think it was the right one. After doing a lot of research into schools in my local area, I decided on the Maritime Institute in San Diego as my “resident” school. I think this was a good decision too. When I registered, the school sent me a box of books and matter of factly told me to read them and start studying,,,which I should have paid attention to. I started class,,,,and am overwhelmed. The material is huge and this will be mostly memorization, so it has basically kicked my ass so far. I don’t care. I learned more in one day than most of what I’ve known in the past and I think this class will turn out to make me and the family safer on the water.
Some things from the first day that I think are important:
- Class size was small and wasn’t all grizzly ship drivers. There are women in the class and a few very young guys, but everyone seem genuine and seems to want to be there.
- The Rules of the Road are important and when broken down into easily understandable information, they can make a difference that people will pay attention to, like these:
- Rule 2- The Rules won’t get you off if you disregard them and act dumb on a boat, outside of normal practices of seamanship-
- Rule 5- Every vessel (boat) no matter where you are, is required to maintain a proper lookout AT ALL TIMES under way- by any and every means available. Huh,,,,sounds like you have to look after your own boat and take responsibility as a Captain.
- Rule 6- You gotta maintain a correct speed for the circumstances,,,part of which is knowing how to slow your boat down quickly-
- Rule 7- CBDR- The Laws of Constant Bearing and Decreasing Range- When multiplied by the gross tonnage rule (if it weighs more than you,,,,your boat will lose), this is a pretty important rule to know how to apply by either watching radar or actually physically observing. This might be why having consistent lights on different kinds of ships is so important and knowing what they mean and which way they’re going is also so important.
- And,,,finally, Rule 18- Did you know there is a pecking order for boats,,,,aside from the gross tonnage rule, there is an actual boat pecking order. And, contrary to popular belief, there is only ONE case where the Rules of the Road actually mentions right of way,,,,and that’s boats traveling downriver on the Western Rivers with the current. Yep, that’s the ONLY Right of Way for Boats mentioned in the USCG Rules of the Road,,,,so be warned about this.
Prior this course, I had a cheat sheet on the boat with me (I highly recommend one) for situations when I was navigating in the dark and needed to pull that cheat sheet out. But, like my parents have said numerous times,,,,,a freighter can get from the horizon (the spot you see it at) to your boat in 15-20 minutes unless you watch it carefully. From the light schemes, you can figure out bearing, ship size, ship mission and plan to avoid that ship pretty easily. But, you have to know what you’re looking at first. This is the big thing this course covers,,,,what you’re looking at. I also like this course because they’re obviously not just teaching to the tests,,,they’re teaching students to be responsible Mariners. Although this is an expensive choice that costs me time with my family, I think this is the right choice. Tulum IV remains for sale here in San Diego and is ready to find the next owner who’s ready for an adventure of a lifetime. She’s in great shape and most repairs are completed. I’ll continue to update my posts about school as we go along and keep you all in the loop. I’m taking this class because I want to be better and safer on my boat, I want to perhaps use the license in the future and because it’s another push toward cruising. Yep, I’m trying to make it real!
Hope you’re all doing great, thanks to everyone who’s followed lately, I LOVE it-