Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Waterhorse and TRLMI

Good Morning Everyone, it’s been a crazy long week and more to come next week.  This whole week I’ve been working on the boat (of course) but I’ve also been going to night classes at Training Resources Limited Maritime Institute (TRLMI) for a Diesel Engine Maintenance Course.  YES, I’m still trying to improve my weak mechanical skills and since I have a firm grasp on my own failings, I already know that I’m not the greatest at mechanical stuff…..and the high jump!  As a bonus this afternoon, we were allowed to go on a field trip to check out the engines on Captain Zach’s Newton 46 dive boat.  Zach is one of the students in the class and owns Waterhorse Charters and Dive Shop (in San Diego).  Because San Diego has a large sunken warship (Yukon) just off the coast, Waterhorse Charters specializes in taking folks out there who come to train for thier PADI or other Wreck Dive Certification.  The boat is spotless, has more than required safety gear and his engines are in great shape.  I was pretty impressed, cause I’ve been on some pretty janky dive boats in a couple of places, but Captain Zach knows his stuff and has a Master’s License to prove it.  Me and him sat in class for a couple of weeks in January 2017 at the (then) Maritime Institute for our Masters License Training, but Maritime Institute has since become TRLMI.  I get to wander around the San Diego Sunroad Boatshow tomorrow and then finish up my last Engine Class tomorrow afternoon as well…too much fun.  I’m getting LOTS of stuff knocked out on the boat and the next two weeks will be huge weeks for the boat.  Next week I have someone coming on the boat to look over my spinnakers with me.  Pretty excited, as I don’t have much spinnaker time and every second counts for good experience.  In order to shore up some of my weaker points and stop paying ripoff prices for work I can probably do, I’ve also signed up for a week of class for Outboard Engine Maintenance in February and another week of class for Onboard Electrical Systems in March.  If you’re interested in these skill sets, TRLMI offers the classes and has a world-class training facility where you’ll get hands-on + instructors who are willing to take the time to explain crucial details along with real world experience.  If you want these skills, highly recommend you sign-up for a class somewhere and improve yourself.

I’ll do another couple of posts with more detailed info and pics on Waterhorse Charters, TRLMI and the boat show.

So the above reasons are why I missed Wednesday’s post, but I’m working hard to stay with it.  Today was another painting with bilge paint day on the boat before I went on the field trip and I’m gonna have to throw a second coat on tomorrow, then be done with that portion of the paint project.  I’ll have some pictures of before and after to awe you with my painting skills and the nastiness of the areas painted….you’ll see we’re making slow progress.  Next week it’s into the engine room all week to clean the engine, change the coolant and the oil and then attempt to get to the impeller to change it.  My engine is literally put in backwards because of the velvet drive and V drive operation…so getting to the critical bits of it is literally painful boat yoga for midget’s and my kids won’t go into those spaces.  I try to bribe them, pay them and threaten them but they will won’t go into those impossible to get to engine spaces so I have to do it….next week. Ok, still got paint on my hands so I have to clean up- see ya-


USCG Master’s Ticket,,,,(finally) my Captain’s License

After year’s of acquiring seatime and taking my two week course at the Maritime Institute in San Diego, CA and passing my Captain’s License Test with Towing and Sailing Endorsements,,,,I finally put together enough hours to qualify and earn my USCG Captain’s License.  I’m pretty stoked.  My wife keeps asking me what I’m going to do with it,,,,,I’m not sure, but I know the Rules of the Road pretty well now!

Stay with us, we’re at the San Diego Boat Show Today (Saturday) and will provide some info, pictures and of course my review when we’re done.

Making Progress through the National Maritime Center

Ugghhhh, the Coast Guard Licensing process is slow and really backed up right now, so I’m still waiting on my actual Coast Guard License.  But, lots of progress.  Since taking my class in January, my package/application for Captain’s License has made it through the Processing Center in Long Beach and was forwarded to the US Coast Guard National Maritime Center.  This place is the clearinghouse for ALL US Merchant Mariner credentials, even for us folks who only want to get a “Six Pack” or 100 Ton License.  My package has worked its way through the various wickets.  I was thrilled when it cleared the medical portion, then I received my actual Merchant Mariner Medical Credential in the mail.  Recently, my package moved from Ready to be Evaluated to Being Evaluated for Professional Qualifications.  This stage is where the rubber meets the road, they evaluate the boats/ships you’ve been on and your sea time.  If you don’t pass this stage,,,,you have to go back and start finding Captain’s Logs and other information to prove your sea time, a long process.

Graphic on the process is below:

Captain’s Licensing process through the National Maritime Center

We (as a family) continue to work to improve Tulum IV even if she’s for sale and move toward our ultimate goal of cruising Central America, the Caribbean and over to the Med.  We’re getting there, slowly.

Here’s more info from some other stuff on my Captain’s License:

If you like us, FOLLOW US,,,,stay timely


Successful Captain’s License Class

Good evening:

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.

Requirements to get into and pass a Maritime Institute OUPV/100 Ton Master Course:

  1. Payment for the course
  2. Charting Tools
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

January OUPV/100 GT Masters Course at Maritime Institute
January OUPV/100 GT Masters Course at Maritime Institute

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? 

via Daily Prompt: Successful

Favorite deli on the last full day of class

Good evening from rainy and cold Southern California:

Today was the last day of full class session in my work to get my USCG Captain’s 100 Ton/OUPV License before test day and I was overworked with the full class review; my mind was mush.  I needed a break and knew that I needed to check Tulum IV to make sure she was dry after all the rain that San Diego has been getting.  I took a long walk to her dock and checked her out,,,,not a drop of wetness anywhere below decks, which was a huge relief.   Then, I just had to go get a sandwich at my favorite Deli in San Diego, Ca, right on the water and always fresh.  If you’re in San Diego, make sure to check out Pearson’s Marine Fuel Dock Deli in Point Loma, you won’t be disappointed.


Favorite San Diego Deli,,,in Point Loma. And, you can drive your boat or car up to it and get an awesome sandwich or salad
Favorite San Diego Deli,,,in Point Loma. And, you can drive your boat or car up to it and get an awesome sandwich or salad

Sticker to represent the Blog-

Yep, our sticker’s now at the school to represent the blog,,an invitation to all to check out our site,,(till it gets removed!)


100 Ton Captain’s Course

Second week at the Maritime Institute in San Diego,,,,getting my butt kicked with all the studying.

Sitting in class working toward my USCG Captain’s License/OUPV isn’t really what I expected,,,,,it’s HARD!  I mean, like worse than college hard, because I’ve been sitting on my butt in class for these 8 hour days, plus extra classes at night, getting slaughtered with information!  I was unprepared for the overload of info they were about to give me, despite them warning me to pre-study the “box o books” they sent me,,,,,telling me it would help.   And,,,,it would have helped if I had read and comprehended it all before I got here, but still would not have understood fully till I got here.  I have all my sailing and boating hours toward the 100 Ton License done, so I’ve put in my time,,,and came to class thinking that I had my stuff together and would do ok.  I had no idea this was one of the few brick and mortar actual schools on the west side of the Mississippi and that there might be a full class going on,,,,,I had no clue that there would be 20 students in the class and the instructor would throw material at us literally all day long, 08am to 5pm.  There’s a lot to study and with the school having a 96% pass rate on the examinations, they have a certain expectation that you come with a level of knowledge and motivation to also pass the exam.  Honestly, I’m getting my ass handed to me and the whole “fake it till you make it” thing isn’t holding up as well as I want in this class.   The class isn’t just geared to teach to the test, but we are learning by test and skill set.  There’s four parts to the test-  Rules of the Road, Deck General, Navigation General and Charting.  Rules of the Road has 50 questions and you need to get a 90% to pass.  The rest of the tests are 70% to pass and all the tests are multiple choice.  One bad thing is that the Navigation Test is only 10 questions, but they all build on each other,,,,,so if you mess up the first few, the rest could all go downhill.  And, if you fail any parts of the test, you fail the whole thing.  So far, the Navigation is my worst subject, although I can do most of it, there’s a lot of math involved and exacting numbers, so I’m a slow poke but usually get it right.  It’s the use of the formulas that throw’s me off on some of the more advanced navigation, but I’m working on it and am not afraid to admit when I need some help.

The Maritime Institute in San Diego is US Coast Guard approved and has written most of their own tests and study guides.  They have some pretty sharp staff members and the owner is personally involved in many of the classes.  I’m impressed with the staff and my instructor.  Anyone who comes in the class, writes down their personal cell phone number and tells you to call them anytime for help means it,,,and means to do more than just prep you for a test.

I’m also pretty impressed with the staff at this school.  The staff are most valuable property the school has; as they’re all well-known in the Marine Industry and keep current on most marine issues.  The school has staff that teach along the west coast and also specialize in teaching military, police and commercial Marine Industry professionals to upgrade their current tonnage licenses.

Whether I pass this damn test this coming Friday or not, I know that just in this week alone, my knowledge and confidence have increased greatly and I’ll be safer and better prepared on any water because of this course.   Now, I gotta go study cause I want to pass the damn test!


So, stick with me if I’m not posting as much this week!

Trying to make it real!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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-



Captain’s Licensing Course in January

Good morning, we’re out traveling and I’ve got lots of great info to pass along about this trip, but first an update on my quest to qualify for my Captain’s License-

I’m in the course and officially taking it in January.  I’ve waded through the extensive Coast Guard Paperwork and figured out it’s not as hard as people make it out to be.  I passed the extensive physical, got the various other paperwork done, retook a CPR class, have applied for and received my Transportation Workers Identity Card (TWIC), and paid the deposit for my course through the Maritime Institute in San Diego.  This company has online and regular classroom courses and also offers their testing services in different parts of the country, an impressive menu of courses.  I decided to go to the classroom portion of the course, as I have way too many distractions at home to be able to effectively study there (I’ve tried it before),,,,and my learning style just doesn’t support distance learning too well.  I’m impressed with the Maritime Institute so far; just two days after calling I had their package of study guides sent to me on my front door step and I was able to call and get a minor study question answered right on the spot.  I’ll spend two straight weeks there in January, taking the Coast Guard approved exam on the last day and then prepping to mail or take my entire package to the nearest center that will accept it.  During my two weeks of the course, I’ll add updates to this blog to make sure you get the info if you’re looking for it-