I passed my test! Once I get the details pulled together, I’ll be turning in my paperwork for my USCG Master’s License for power driven and auxiliary sail vessels under 50 tons and small towing vessels. I passed my physical and I’ll soon be tracked by the Feds through the TWIC program, that post-9/11 bit of bureaucratic “protection” that registers all transportation workers.
I’m very, very excited to be a licensed boat Captain.
And on the other hand, I have given up a lot of privacy for this. I’m being fingerprinted and background-checked. I’m giving in to the FCC and getting a Radio Operator’s license, which horrifies James, of course. And I’m going to be on the radar, when my preferred existence is shadowy and uninformative.
Why is it worthwhile?
Well, as much as we travel, I want to be as employable as possible in as many different ways as possible. As a captain, I can charter boats for small groups and take them sailing through the Aegean Islands or the Croatian Adriatic. I can run small passenger ferries and harbor cruise boats. Though I’m almost completely ignorant about fishing, I could drive fishing charters. Probably won’t do much of that until I learn more on the subject, but…
Also, the government ID plus my regular passport…a Captain’s license and the proper radio licensing…these are tools I will use on all of the Immigration and Customs officials who question me about why I want into their countries. These things will make me just a bit more “official” – just a bit more trustworthy. Or at least, that’s what I hope. I don’t want any trouble with the guardians of foreign gates and I see this as a way to ensure openness.
Last but not least, apropos of my last post, I’m hoping that my captain’s license will – in concert with my growing number of years on the planet – get me some of the respect that is not currently offered by people who think I must be the “First Mate”. No need to pound that point into the ground, but just one little tidbit. West Marine sells t-shirts that say Captain. They only offer Captain shirts in men’s sizes. They also sell “First Mate” shirts, which, of course, are in women’s sizes.
So there it is. I went through the course, I documented my sea time on the three boats I’ve owned since 1999, and now I’m just waiting for the Coast Guard’s Merchant Mariner program to lend me some cred.