Yachtmaster Training



As someone who prefers to make his living on the water, I have to keep up on certifications and otherwise display my competency for filling out paperwork, take tests and pay fees. I got my first license from the legendary Maritime Institute back in the nineties. My license is in its third issue. It has served me well.

A Coast Guard license is what’s usually required to get paid to run boats in the states. In the rest of the world, an even better-known certification is hard to get Yachtmaster. One of the differences is that the Yachtmaster requires you to demonstrate that you can run a boat. One of my back up plans is to return to running private yachts for megalomaniacs (kewl word). I can go skipper a globe-trotting yacht for 5 years and make enough to retire. To that end, I recently went after my Yachtmaster. You used to have to travel to England or worse to get your Yachtmaster. Not so anymore.

Great friends and Lats family members Rags & Kathy own and run the Maritime Institute If you’ve attended a Lats & Atts seminar, watched Lats & Atts TV, done a Share the Sailor lost a yellow shoe, you’ve probably met Rags and Kathy. They are based in San Diego but hold classes all over – www.MaritimeInstitute.com. It is the premier Coast Guard licensing school on the planet. So trusted is Maritime Institute that both the Navy and Coast Guard use MI to train their seamen.

And they now offer the Yachtmaster. I got Rags on the phone and he explained the route to Yachtmasterdom. First up, STCW basic safety course. What does STCW stand for? Safety Training … I’m back, I had to look it up. I was way off “Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping.” From the brochure: “This five (5) day course is comprised of First Aid & CPR , Basic Firefighting, Personal Survival Techniques, and Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities. Students are trained and must demonstrate proficiency in all disciplines.”

Sounds like an adventure? It was. The Maritime Institute facilities are awesome. They have the whole second floor of a beautiful building right off of Shelter Island. I used to teach Coast Guard classes and I would carry around a whiteboard and some markers, that’s all you got. The MI classrooms have all the extras right there: projectors, displays, flyers, handheld right of way boats, a full ship med kit wall display and a few full immersion suits hanging in the back so you can Gumby up during breaks.

There was an impressive amount of information passed on to us in the 5 day course. All made lively and entertaining by our instructors Stuart and Kevin. I enjoy learning new things but there were some unexpected highlights. As part of the course, I got my First Aid / CPR renewed … bonus. I was putting it off. We got to use the high-end CPR dummies and learned the new 30 compressions and 2 breaths system. And that was just day one.

Day 2 we went over fire theory. Do you know why? Because Day 3 they were going to put us in full fire suits and breathing apparatus and toss us into rooms with flames and hot metal, people screaming and roofs collapsing. Actually it was just rooms with flames, the rest I had to imagine. We all met at the Navy fire training facility.

They had big metal buildings with natural gas-powered flames shooting across the rooms inside. There were even some old metal buildings for sale across the site. We got suited up, grabbed a hose and they sent us into uncertain death. It was awesome. There was something very soothing about the heat and the flames.

Some of the folks didn’t like it though. There’s no ride like that at Disneyland.

What do you do after a hot day at inferno alley? Day 4 we got in the pool. Again, at one of the Navy facilities, we had a pool and one of them liferafts you never hope to see at sea. I was fired up to pile in and feel what it’s like being inside, on the water. I’ve seen the liferaft pull cord deployment at a couple of our Lats Seminars but I’ve never played, I mean trained, with one in the water. First, we had to prove that we could swim. Then it was into the Gumby suits, I mean immersion suits and into the water. They really do keep you dry. And in the San Diego sun? They keep you toasty. It was fun climbing (or being pulled) in and out of the liferaft. I could see the challenges of the manoeuvres on a bumpy sea.

And then someday 5 testing and back-patting. It was a great week with some unexpected adventure mixed with a high-end learning experience. And it was good to hang out with Rags and Kathy. The final Yachtmaster course is going to be the end of summer sometime so you have till then to get your STCW knocked out. And then sign up for the Yachtmaster course so we can have a full fun class.

The Yachtmaster class has just been scheduled for November 5-16 through Maritime Institute. I will be there training with Zuzana and other top skippers. Contact Rags to sign up now. Rags@maritimeinstitute.com

A couple of months later my friend (and top crew) Octavio called me and told me about a job site out by Vegas that desperately needed sea captains. What? 24 hours later I was onsite at the Vegas Tunnel Construction on Lake Mead being introduced to my tug boat. One of the requirements to work a boat on the site was that I had current CPR and First Aid proof. I hadn’t brought them but no problem, MI emailed my certs right over. That’s how they roll.

I told the VTC folks that I had never run a tug before … but how hard could it be? I’ve parked yachts between other yachts. What the heck is a flanking rudder? My boat had normal rudders behind the props of course but Dirty Diana also had rudders in front of the props. They seemed almost useless when ripping around the bay solo but connected to a barge with 8 cement trucks, you could generate a lot more twist. They were useful for turning the barges in close quarters. I know what you’re thinking. What’s this got to do with the cruising lifestyle? Not a whole lot. Just expanding our horizons.

The Yachtmaster class has just been scheduled for November 5-16 through Maritime Institute. I will be there training with Zuzana and other top skippers. Contact Rags to sign up now. Rags@maritimeinstitute.com

-Quality, Balance and a Clean Wake-

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  1. Yep, we were in and out of there in a couple weeks It was a mastery of organization of a bunch of groups of workers and giant machines. And I got to play on tugboats and hung out with the hilarious union guys.

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