Duties & Responsibilities
Taking on the idea of becoming a boat Captain is not as glamorous and easy as it might seem. One reads that there are courses that you take that last 2 or 3 weeks or 2 or 3 weekends and that the graduation rate is over 90%. Captains wear a nice uniform, make good money, and obviously have a nice working environment. Sounds good!
I have been a boat owner for over 50 years and have taken about every United States Coast Guard course that they have offered. I have a substantial amount of hours on boats, experience, and boating knowledge. Yet, I have struggled with the course materials required to pass the exam for the Masters Captains License. I can tell you, it’s not easy! The amount of hours working on a boat required to obtain a Masters License would deter and eliminate most who think they would like to become a Captain.
I thought it might be interesting to take you behind the scenes: A candidate for a Captain’s license is extensively tested on the ‘Rules of the Road’, Navigation, Navigation aids, Maritime Law, Fires and Fire Fighting equipment, Weather, to name just a few subjects.
The United States Coast Guard governs and controls everything that a Captain does. He or she must have in their possession a Transportation License, Current CPR and First Aid, a Radio Operators License as well as the proper Captain’s License. They must show that they are currently enrolled in a Drug and Alcohol Consortium. These are USCG requirements. The USCG will also inspect the Captain’s logs and test them on overboard and fire drills. It has come to our attention that many Captains do not meet all of these requirements and thus, unknowing to the person hiring them, are operating illegally.
Captain must also abide by all Marina regulations which many do not. And many Captains do not even follow simple ‘Rules of the Road’ which we previously mentioned.
When a Captain begins his work, there are several duties he or she must follow. Remember, everything is done for your Safety whether you are the boat owner or a passenger. Here is a general list:
- Show the boat owner that he is carrying all the required licenses, current CPR and First Aid, and proof of enrollment in a Drug and Alcohol Consortium.
- Be properly groomed and wearing the proper Captain’s uniform.
- Inspect the vessel: Lines, engine compartment and bilges, required plaques, labeling, running lights, safety equipment.
- Test the bilge pumps, engines, and ventilation.
- When passengers are onboard, they must be given a safety talk and demonstration of the donning of a life jacket. This can be done by the Captain or Crew.
- Before leaving the dock and upon returning, the Captain must perform a radio check and enter this into the Log Book.
- The Captain or Crew must also do a passenger count during the voyage and upon return. This also must be entered into the Log Book and sent to a person on shore by email or similar method.
The Captain must report to the USCG any accident or incident involving the vessel or passengers.