I successfully passed my OUPV/Master up to 100 Gross Ton Course and both the Towing and Sailing Endorsements. BUT, while this was a heck of an accomplishment because I wasn’t the sharpest person in the class, it’s NOT an actual Coast Guard License, that’s a hurdle I still need to get through. This post is going to focus on the requirements for the class I just finished and my own pre-conceptions. Another post this week will discuss in more detail what’s needed for the license.
- Payment for the course
- Charting Tools
- Pass all four modules of the USCG Test (really hard)
Ok, let me explain this a bit further. The school has both online and classroom courses, but there’s no pre-requisites to get into the courses. There are a number of hurdles and pre-requisites to getting the actual OUPV/Master of 100 Gross Ton Coast Guard License, with successful completion of the test being one of them. And, be warned that if you don’t have all these license pre-requisites done before you take the test (anywhere), the test is only good for one year from the date you take it.
Some of my own assumptions prior to going to the course:
- I thought I could have passed the test by doing it online or out of a book, but I wasn’t sure: I could NOT have passed this test by doing it online or out of a book. It’s not that I’m that dumb,,,but I’m not the smartest at some of these subjects and I would have had the distractions of work, family, house and other things taking away from concentrated study time. For me, going to class and immersing myself in the subjects for two weeks was a wise decision. I missed my family terribly and felt guilty for leaving for two weeks, but I know that this is the only way I would have passed the test.
- I’m a pretty sharp guy,,,,the test couldn’t be as hard as some of my friends told me? : Wrong, so wrong. The test was as hard as the internet and some of my friends told me about, probably even harder. A friend who took the test before me at another school is much sharper than me and said it was really no big deal,,,,but the section he scored 100% on were a real struggle for me.
- I’ve got years on boats, have done charting and have a college degree, how hard could this two-week course be? : Well, I never sat in the college classroom for 8 hours of the same subjects EVER and being on a boat and doing charting is waaay different from sitting in the classroom and trying to do it. I also wasn’t expecting some of the more advanced navigation and the use of multiple formulas just to solve one charting solution.
- When I signed up in early December, I was sent the box of books and a notice on what to study before attending class: I should have paid more attention to the notice on what to pre-study and the nice lady on the phone who said to read everything and come to class well prepared. Not doing this put me at a disadvantage that took extra hours of studying to make up for.
- With the money that I’m paying to attend this course,,,,I’ll sail right through: Again, could not be further from the truth. This is a Coast Guard certified school and course. Even paying a pricey amount to take this course, it’s NOT a gimme. I had to study at least three hours per night and complete at least 40 minutes of homework and I took most of the weekend in the. middle of the course to study. Not everyone passes this course, so don’t expect to sail through without putting in your time.
- The class will be filled with a bunch of salty Merchant Mariners and Fishermen with beards. Everyone attending the class will have years on ships and be ready to get their licenses as soon as they finish the class: Again, I was wrong about this in spades. The class demographics was nothing like I expected; while there was one professional fisherman attending the course with a myriad of experience, there was a diverse demographic in the course. Of the 20 people in the class; there were women, diver operators, a whale researcher, kayak and canoe operators, business owners, professional towboat operators (TowBoat US) and others. Some didn’t appear to have their hours on the water completely done (some did) and most didn’t have all their Coast Guard Paperwork done. And, much to my surprise there were people from all over the country who came to the Maritime Institute Course because of its reputation. We had folks from New York City, Maine, Ohio, Northern California and other places far and near.
Honestly, there were people in the class with much more experience and practice than me and I only passed this test because I took the class, material and my time in class seriously and worked my tail off to pass. I do have all my time on the water done and I have all my US Coast Guard paperwork done, my TWIC card done and will be sending in my completed package in the next month or so. Even once you do this, you’re not guaranteed any certain license, the Coast Guard examiner approves only what they think you’re eligible for. So, even if you took the test for 100 Gross Tons and below, you may only get an approved OUPV or 25 Ton Near Coastal,,,,it’s up to the Coast Guard.
Here’s a class photo taken the day before the test:
Next couple posts I’ll discuss what the pre-requisites are and how one goes about getting them done. If you’ve read this far and liked what you saw so far, why not follow this blog and see where we go?