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at what point do you need a captains lic?

 
 
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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at what point do you need a captains lic?

on a family owned boat is there point where you need one? for length? or just if you are being hired one? or is it if you have a large boat you can just drive it??
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Old 01-19-2008, 10:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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There is no need to get a captain's license if you are running your own boat and will not be chartering it.

While the education you get with a captain's license helps with insurance, it is the actual experience you have that determine's whether you can run the particular size of boat you have (or want) or will require a captain to run it.

Do you like to "drive" or be "driven"?
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Old 01-20-2008, 08:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Some insurance companies require a licensed Captain to be running the boat, whether it is the owner, or a hired hand.

One company sets the limit at 70 feet. (70 and over requires a ticket)

The US Coast Guard requires a licensed Captain for any yacht over 199 tons.
(Volume, not displacement)

Some European states require a ticket for any boat over 15 Meters.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Be careful about getting a captain's license. Although it's good for the ego you will be held to a higher standard should there be an accident. On a moderately sized boat some captain's are comfortable allowing the owners to take the helm although they'll always be on duty and ready to take over. My personal belief is that any new or move-up boater should take lessons from a captain, and any boat over 46' should have a captain on board until the owner has a minimum of 3 to 5 years of serious experience. Although you'll be able to handle most situations, eventually a boat of that size will travel enough to hit a situation where the captain's experience will be worth its weight in gold.
As a 50 year boater and 20 year captain I must say that very few days on the water go by without me learning something new. Whatever time you can afford to have a captain with you will be spent learning from his experience, which can only help.
Having a captain on board should also reduce your insurance premiums, and remember that running a boat is more than just driving it, or even docking. It also deals with maintenance and emergency repairs, weather predictions, etc. On a boat over 50 feet a captain should be able to save you almost more than you pay him by preventing problems. Some of these boats are extremely complex pieces of equipment.
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Old 03-20-2008, 03:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Depends

I worked as an unlicensed captain for nearly 20 years before I stepped up and "got licensed." Insurance companies at that time approved me without question as it was all based on experience.

Just remember, a piece of paper does not a captain make. I know licensed captains that I wouldn't let park my Corvette.

If you are running your family 60' or less yacht as owner/operator, then I wouldn't sweat it. You can take a US Power Squadron or USCGAux boating safety course and get the same discount on your boat insurance than if you were licensed. In fact, I teach owners and have my letter of completion accept by underwriters.

If you are not "taking passengers for hire" e.g. charter, then contact you marine underwriter and see what their criteria is. If you are not satisfied with their answer, call another one.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I so agree with Aeronautic that a piece of paper does not a captain make. It's all about book knowledge now, which is why I recommend anyone looking for a captain consider only someone with 100GT and upward of their 2nd issue minimum. However did I read right that he "WORKED" as an "Unlicensed" captain for 20 years.
The originator of this thread didn't sound experienced and we all know the mechanics of a 60 footer, and the surprises that mom nature likes to dish out. Tomorrow I'm moving a 50 footer. The forecast is 40Kt. winds (gale warnings). I've told the owner not to do it, but he insists. I'm having him sign a special release accepting all responsibility for any incident no matter what the cause. He lacks the experience to know when not to go out. I'm doing this run to try to keep him out of the jackpot. If it were my regular client I'd walk off the boat to keep him on shore. I so believe that over 46 feet there should always be a LICENSED & EXPERIENCED captain on board until the owner has 3 to 5 years of serious experienced. We're talking about million dollar toys and lives here. Some people have to be saved from themselves. Before anyone responds that I should totally refuse this job, there are reasons I need to take care of this person or I would.
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Old 03-20-2008, 09:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCAP123
I so agree with Aeronautic that a piece of paper does not a captain make. It's all about book knowledge now, which is why I recommend anyone looking for a captain consider only someone with 100GT and upward of their 2nd issue minimum. However did I read right that he "WORKED" as an "Unlicensed" captain for 20 years.
The originator of this thread didn't sound experienced and we all know the mechanics of a 60 footer, and the surprises that mom nature likes to dish out. Tomorrow I'm moving a 50 footer. The forecast is 40Kt. winds (gale warnings). I've told the owner not to do it, but he insists. I'm having him sign a special release accepting all responsibility for any incident no matter what the cause. He lacks the experience to know when not to go out. I'm doing this run to try to keep him out of the jackpot. If it were my regular client I'd walk off the boat to keep him on shore. I so believe that over 46 feet there should always be a LICENSED & EXPERIENCED captain on board until the owner has 3 to 5 years of serious experienced. We're talking about million dollar toys and lives here. Some people have to be saved from themselves. Before anyone responds that I should totally refuse this job, there are reasons I need to take care of this person or I would.
Unless it's a working fish boat, that owner should be beaten about the head and neck. I can't see any real need to take that chance that's worth more than waiting 24 hours for safer weather.

Even if it's selling the boat, he won't have much to sell should there be any accident.
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Old 03-21-2008, 07:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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NYCAP, did you read what you just wrote?

"I'm having him sign a special release accepting all responsibility for any incident no matter what the cause."

There will be only one person aboard that vessel who will have any responsibility for anything and it sounds like since you are the licensed master who is "moving" the boat, so that is you and that piece of paper is a written admission of your throwing caution and "prudent" operation to the winds, literally. If I were the attorney for the guy's heirs (if everything goes sideways) I would love to have that piece of paper.

If you believe the trip is foolhardy or unsafe and you do it anyway you have become everyone you claim to be better than.

"... there are reasons I need to take care of this person or I would."

That one should be added to the long list of "famous last words" ..; oh, it's already there, right behind "hold my beer and watch this."
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Marmot,
I so agree with you. Sometimes though we all go closer to the edge than is wise. If we weren't (calculated) risk takers we wouldn't be in this business. We'd be in an office pushing pencils. As for the release, if his attorney saw it he would have broken his fingers before letting him sign it. Bottom line though is we've all been caught out in worse than this, and I was 99% certain I could pull it off. The type of business I do has me out almost every day from March through October and I do probably over a thousand dockings a year. This involved friends possibly taking losses or getting hurt trying to do it themselves and I go the extra yard for friends even if it means some risk to me, but I'm not stupid or crazy. The proof is in the pudding. I'm now home playing with my puppies and the boat is now safe in it's new home.
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Old 03-28-2008, 01:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCAP123
The proof is in the pudding. I'm now home playing with my puppies and the boat is now safe in it's new home.
Not wanting to split hair (heirs?) here NYCAP123, but the successful completion of a voyage is not proof that the passage was safe. Many unsafe undertakings have positive results as I am sure you are well aware. It simply encourages more unsafe undertakings. There is a long chain of events that lead up any accident and breaking that chain at any point will prevent the accident from occurring. The captain has the greatest ability to break it especially when the boat is already sitting safely on a dock.

Please know that I'm not questioning either your ability or your commitment to safety. I'm sure that you are both able and safe. However, you yourself point out that conditions were beyond what you were comfortable with to the point that you got a liability waiver signed by your client. My concern is that (a) the liability waiver, no matter how worded, might not protect your license and (b) would be useless to your puppies in the event of a catastrophic loss.

In any case, I glad everything turned out well.
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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"My concern is that (a) the liability waiver, no matter how worded, might not protect your license and (b) would be useless to your puppies in the event of a catastrophic loss."

Which was precisely my point when I wrote that the attorney for the heirs (or insurance company) would love to have that piece of paper.

There is no way a licensed master can sign away his authority or responsibility, and no way anyone can sign away his heirs right to sue.

The license issuing agency (USCG in this case) would use that piece of paper as evidence of a voyage performed with full knowledge of the existence of conditions that would preclude a prudent mariner from beginning.

The very existence of the paper is a testimonial to all the reasons people give for hiring a licensed, and hopefully experienced, captain instead of some boat driver who has nothing to lose.

I don't really want to throw stones or start a flamefest, but the example given shows the difference between professionals and amateur mariners, licensed or not.
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Luckylg,
Experience seldom encourages reckless actions, at least not in my life. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Ever watch the C.G. surf school up your way at Cape Disappointment? Don't say that's their job, because it's not. Their first job is to get home safe. Getting their second job done requires them to go to the limits of their training and ability. Now, I'm in no way comparing myself to those men and women ( hell, I'd be changing my scivies there), but I've been through 40 knot winds more times than i'd like to remember so I know exactly where the limits of my abilities are. Risking my life is one thing, risking someone elses is far different, and risking fiberglass or a prop is a third. The risk here was the third, not the first and certainly not the second. I'm old school. If anyone on my boat dies I'm already dead. In 20 years in this business I've gotten (2) speed tickets, (1) PFD violation when they first invented infant PFD's and I hadn't heard, no lawsuits, and (1) bent prop (acquired mid channel in Carolina Beach). Thanks for the concern and I hope anybody reading this learns, but I'm one of the most concervative small boat captains you'll find. I've gotten caught in a lot, but I rarely go looking for it. Again, thanks for the concern.
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Just had a coversation about this with my own attorney. He is generally in agreement with me on the strength of the waiver being limited to loss or damage of the vessel. The captain has sole responsibility for the safe voyage so the license would definitely be in danger regardless of any waiver.

Something that might help in discussions with an owner contemplating something like this is to couple a demand for an "indemnity" from the owner with a waiver. The captain could insist on an agreement from the owner to indemnify the captain from claims by the owner or the underwriter for the vessel, including attorneys fees, and to indemnify the captain from the costs and losses arising from any license proceeding related to the yacht move, including lost earnings.

There is also the issue of pollution liability to keep in mind when drafting any waiver and indemnity, and talking with an owner. The case of the operator of a charter fishing vessel on the Oregon coast recently which resulted in criminal liability for the captain due to the resulting pollution.

Not intending to harp on anything/one but the question interested me so I followed up on it.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:51 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Cape D

Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCAP123
Luckylg,
Experience seldom encourages reckless actions, at least not in my life. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Ever watch the C.G. surf school up your way at Cape Disappointment? Don't say that's their job, because it's not. Their first job is to get home safe. Getting their second job done requires them to go to the limits of their training and ability. Now, I'm in no way comparing myself to those men and women ( hell, I'd be changing my scivies there), but I've been through 40 knot winds more times than i'd like to remember so I know exactly where the limits of my abilities are. Risking my life is one thing, risking someone elses is far different, and risking fiberglass or a prop is a third. The risk here was the third, not the first and certainly not the second. I'm old school. If anyone on my boat dies I'm already dead. In 20 years in this business I've gotten (2) speed tickets, (1) PFD violation when they first invented infant PFD's and I hadn't heard, no lawsuits, and (1) bent prop (acquired mid channel in Carolina Beach). Thanks for the concern and I hope anybody reading this learns, but I'm one of the most concervative small boat captains you'll find. I've gotten caught in a lot, but I rarely go looking for it. Again, thanks for the concern.
Well, as a Coast Guard veteran who actually went thru motorlifeboat school at Cape D, and also served on the Columbia River Lightship where the CG 44 footer was our taxi, I can tell you that it actually is their job. The difference being is that the best of the best are instructors there and the equipment is designed for these conditions. Yet, there are weather limitations placed on the school. But when mariner's lives are at risk, sometimes even a Coastie goes beyond prudence and winds up a crumpled mass of aluminim on the beach. I have sat on the lightship for days waiting for a 44 to pick me up but mission after mission was scrubbed because the weather was not worth the risk for such a low priority as a crew rotation.

The point being, Small Craft Advisories are just that, advisories. But when Gale and Storm Warnings go up, then the responsible and prudent mariner stays in port. I take it from NYCAP that he is either a puke boat captain or a commercial fisherman.

Admin Edit: This post has been edited to remove unnecessary comments.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:43 AM   #15 (permalink)
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How about if we all take a deep breath and rein in on the condescending personal attacks. Seems like this thread got way off track pretty quickly.

Here's my $0.02:

A waiver isn't worth the paper it is printed on.

Anyone, licensed captain or not, should be responsible for their actions.

A license does not make anyone more or less qualified or skilled than they were before they sat for that test.
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