Pass The Exam

In the beginning…

One of the most difficult things to do for a professional mariner is to prepare for a license examination, assessment, or re-certification. You need regiment, discipline, courage to complete the learning tasks.  There are many ways to digest information with total recall but more importantly it is the change in behavior and thought that occurs when something is genuinely learned.  It becomes who we are and serves well as progress develops through our professional careers.  For those of you eager to succeed in that one focused objective; to obtain the Merchant Marine Officer License or Certification, this approach will be of great value.

True learning is a process, organized and deliberate in goal most often gathered of previous experience, from Mentors.  My history is long with many turns and twists, both aviation and ships.  A good combination of skill sets, each complimenting the other, not only the subject matter but especially the technique needed to acquire proficiency.

For you see…the real knowledge, the type that will carry over to all types of uses in life is in the structure and system, not just the content.  More importantly it is the person delivering the knowledge that enables the discovery in the learning process.  That is exactly the mission this service is resourcefully crafted to deliver…Success

Each person is different in composition and how they absorb information.  Given that maxim, Study Plans should be developed specifically to the individual.  Many factors to consider, wide range of subjects, all colliding on course to the final examination.


Ask yourself this one question…Are you ready?

Radar Recertification

Need your help on this one. If you were able to take an on-line radar tutorial, course… including examination would you do it?  For those of you that have renewed the radar requirement on their license you know how it can be a real challenge to successfully complete.  Let me know what you think; a simple YES or NO to

You input is greatly appreciated!

Straits of Forida

The beautiful island of Cuba on the distant horizon, invisible from view, except on a chart, a mere 90 miles from the closest land in the USA, the “Southern Most Point” Key West.  As you visually scan over the sea from that location it appears it would not be much effort to cross over.  Looks can be deceiving in this case as the route you must take will pass through one of the most unique and challenging bodies of water you will ever encounter.

A “River in the Sea” as it is sometimes referred to; the Gulf Stream, a powerful current that rapidly flows Northeast through the Straits of Florida.  At times it can be a beautifully calm and serene place, other times it is just this side of a full blown, peril at sea disaster.  Especially when  tropical storms and hurricanes, are transiting or forming near it’s warm core.  There are even occasions when a clear blue sky appears extremely odd and contrast against a raging short swell, high, steep waves generated by winds coming from the North East opposing the flow of the current.  Depending on your departure point location this can make a huge difference underway and a more comfortable, safer ride as you plow through the waves when the seas are rough.

Suddenly 90 miles becomes a much longer excursion than originally conceived and planned.  Not that the weather can be the only factor, add the sometimes heavy traffic of all types of vessels as they transit through the Straits bound for their destination. You will almost certainly be faced with the need to interact with other vessels moving in all directions, speeds, and sizes. This is when knowledge of the navigation rules really pays off!  This new port of call is going to be  an interesting time for the Florida Straits when boaters from the USA begin the journey South from nearby places on the Gulf and Southeast Coast.

Make sure you are ready; whether passenger, crew, or person in charge of the vessel. Have the proper communication, charting capability, life jackets, and most of all; the complete ability to react in times of emergency and danger. The island is close in distance, the path full of adventure and challenge as you cross the Straits of Florida. Those of you that have USCG licenses and considering going to Cuba with a small vessel should consider upgrading to Master, the next level from Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) and also include the STCW License called Basic Safety if you plan to carry passengers for hire.  There will soon be a rush of license applications for those mariners that want to professionally serve as Master or just improve their total safety knowledge in this realm for their private craft.  Please contact me if you want to discover the many different ways you can prepare for the Straits of Florida.  What waits on the other side is well worth the effort…an island hidden in full view for the past fifty years.

Prepare for Boating Safety and you not be disappointed when that moment arrives…you will be ready.


X marks the SPOT

Routine visit to a retail outlet for advanced marine electronics as Pro Staff for a manufacturer recently introduced me to something profound, sitting silently on the shelf.  No one asks what does this do? How do you install it?  Does it do what the promotion says it will?  Answers to all three of those questions a resounding Yes!

The days of terrestrial, ground based communications are a distant second place compared to satellite technology and the advantages of service without borders.  There is such a technology, sitting right in front of you on the shelf of the electronics display at your favorite boating and outdoor sports outlet that absolutely changes everything.  The ability to communicate information any time, any place, a signal from above, loud and clear. You too can make that discovery at

Lessons Learned – Error Trapping

Navigation is a science of multiple methods and utilities that should all conclude to the same answer.  It is successfully accomplished by what is defined in the assessment curriculum as; Knowledge, Understanding, and Proficiency.  To reach this stage of learning there needs to be an actual experience factor.  That’s where assessments come from and they can be conducted in a few different ways; actually on-board the vessel during operations or by simulation.  The latter choice and process enables something extremely valuable to occur…

Error Trapping, a system making possible a review of the incident or event that will produce Lessons Learned and help prevent it from happening again.  The key to all that is dissecting each time component and course of action and change those dynamics to prevent a reoccurrence.  Simulation delivers the exact ingredients to achieve this level of Knowledge, Understanding, and Proficiency in a much profound way; you can replay the incident or event until it is understood completely.  In addition to the increased proficiency it has great affect on the confidence level and decision making of the individual.  How many times have you learned from a mistake, never to repeat it because you know what the consequences are?

This type of education is a very big element of maritime life through a syllabus and training method in Bridge Resource Management (BRM) also a requirement found in the international maritime standards.  Its insight is useful to all boaters, not just commercial and military.  You don’t have to attend a marine ship simulator to discover how to benefit.  To learn the new skill you are striving for; practice and visualize the steps, including errors, of how to accomplish the task over and over and you will see the difference in all aspects of understanding and especially proficiency.

The best part about boating education is not what you learn sitting in class, it is what you remember and apply to your boating experience through Lessons Learned.

Vessel Security Awareness

The requirement under the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch-Standing (STCW) for professional mariners to complete this training coming soon…or should I say already here!  Some off shore marine companies won’t hire you unless you have it checked off. What is it? The basic course of instruction showing and explaining the organization of a proper, well organized security system comprised of people and technology.  The perfect combination to make the maritime world a safer and especially more secure place.  The even bigger question…Does it work?  Everything has a concept, a start, and awareness is also an integral part of that equation.  The USCG approved syllabus of training is only a brief eight hours and it is a real game changer with it’s standards and eventual return on investment, an investment in your personal safety and security.  It is absolutely true…Knowledge is Power. 

Sonar Navigation

It is very uncommon in the maritime domain to ever connect those two words together in a sentence. Sonar, in its current form and private use, is primarily for fish finding, giving incredibly detailed, panoramic views of the bottom directly below your vessel with a very wide variety of options and multi-function displays.  Considered of vital importance to a successful sport fishing trip with ability to gather and apply this information.  Bottom line is; what is beneath your vessel in the unseen depths has always been a mystery when underway on the surface.  Sonar is giving the boater the ability to see what lies directly below and to the sides…only when the vessel is stopped or proceeding very slow through the water.  That translates to underwater information after your vessel has moved over the position it is recording.

There is one single element, remarkable difference, and capability that separates the normal retail version of sonar technology from a very considerable advancement in underwater sensors now available to all mariners called; Forward Scan developed by Navico;  This forward-thinking technology provides the ability to quickly gather, process, and graphically display information below the surface of the water ahead of the vessel.  Something once only reserved for naval and other military use, this one specific distinction will forever change the way sonar is perceived and utilized in pleasure, even commercial boating.  This capability expands the sensor from real time to something considerably more valuable and useful…Navigation

By definition covers most of the aspects of this science but one; the profound feature of looking ahead, sub-surface while moving through the water, is something extraordinary that could intelligently and accurately deliver the final advantage to the science of safe navigation.  Complimenting both sail and motor vessels, operators will possess the capability to see obstructions, shallows and other dangers that are ahead of them by as much as 8x the depth of the water they are operating in.  That particular, unique change makes this sensor vitally useful and significant. Grounding and floundering are common in unfamiliar waters, sometimes even when the GPS chart is showing a different picture from the satellite.  Technology application for agencies to use in search and recovery and other operations makes this attribute of sonar a real game changer when it comes to information gathering and processing.  Safe navigation is based on the premise that there is adequate water beneath the keel to allow the vessel to move about.  Now there is a way to get that very same knowledge before you reach that position, providing an effective window ahead of you to accurately pilot and completely assess hidden dangers, making it now a viable component of navigation…Sonar Navigation.