USCG Captains License

Posted by Director of Education on October 24, 2013 under About NauticEd, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Coast Guard Captains License – Six Pac

Here is a question from one of our many international students. Currently we have students from 90 countries. It’s a good one and often asked, so I thought I’d post the answer here.

It’s about the USCG Captains License vs the NauticEd Captain Certification

Good afternoon
I’m writing you from Asia (Macau SAR) and would like to have some information about your certifications.
I been sailing and own several sailing boats for quite a while, however, never had any formal education apart from the mariner license from the Government of Macau. However, i’m interested in getting your Captain’s certification but have some doubts how it works.
Can i just apply for the Captain’s program or do i need to go thru all the levels before making it to the Captains level?
And if can get it directly, without having to buy the other courses, can I (non-american citizen but with a American flag sailing vessel and Master USSA Surveyor license number: MMS#(xxxxx) apply to make the exam for the USCG Captains license.

And, for NauticEd Captain’s licence, can all the studying process and exam be made online or we need to be on site some times?

Best regards
Joao G




Thanks for writing and for the good question. Firstly, I’ll directly answer your questions then give you some background.

(1) You can invest directly straight into the Captains Rank certification. When you go to the Sailing Courses Page you can see there at the top right – the Captains Rank bundle of courses.

(2) The Captains Bundle of courses will ready you for almost all the study materials you’ll need for the USCG six-pac captain’s license (six-pac stands for 6 passengers).

(3) As a non US Citizen and non US Resident however, you can not gain the USCG Captains license.

(4) You can do all our courses online. The online no online thing you will need to do will be for the Coastal Navigation Course. You will need to order a paper chart from our supply chain partner Landfall Navigation for about $10 plus shipping. Instructions are inside the course.


Unfortunately the way it is set up is that the USCG have provided no delineation between a captain who would like remuneration for taking a few passengers out for the afternoon and a captain who is operating on a much more serious and large scale like a 200 passenger ferry boat captain who is operating between Vancouver Island in Canada and Anacortes USA (Except the differences in tonnage qualification and the Master upgrade). But essentially,the License requirements for both types are operators are very stringent with FBI back ground and Homeland Security checks. The process is daunting. And especially for a small time sailing school instructor – he/she must go through the same full throttle requirements of the USCG License.

So for most – it’s just not worth it. When I did my USCG license – 90% of the people in the class were doing it for two reasons only. (a) To get the knowledge to be safer on the water and (b) for the recognition. None had ideas of becoming a ferry boat captain and mostly none had any ideas about operating for remuneration. One operator wanted to do fishing charters on his 20ft flat bottom deck boat. (Operating for remuneration is the litmus test for why you need to gain a USCG Captain’s license). Unfortunately the USA puts a wasted security effort into this non delineation.

On top of that, the sailing endorsement was a literal joke. There was no training only a series of overly easy questions that my five year old could answer – like what’s the big stick up the middle called? What is the fuel that powers a sailboat? And can a sailboat sail directly into the wind? Got all three? Yup Passed and stamped. Shameful actually. So when some one tells you they have a sailing endorsement on their captain’s license, just know that all they did was answer the questions.

But just like taxes – it is what it is.

Enter NauticEd. The NauticEd Captains Certification contains ten course and is approximately 80 – 90 hours of study with tests at the end of each module. Courses vary in length and have from 1 module to 14 modules within.

Putting theory into practice with the NauticEd Captain's Certification

Putting theory into practice with the NauticEd Captain’s Certification

When you finish the NauticEd Captain’s Certification you’re going to be sooooo jazzed with the overwhelming achievement and incredibly confident of your knowledge. However it does not end there. To attain the NauticEd Captain Certification you must document your time on the water. The minimum is 50 days of documentation with 50% of those days being on a sailboat 28 ft or longer and 50% of those days must be as master of the vessel. This will gain you the Captain level III Rank. When you have completed 200 days you become Level 5. You can not get a NauticEd Captains Certification with out documenting this time. Additionally we offer a Verified Practical Proficiency stamp through our various sailing Schools world wide. In your case we have one just across the waters in Hong Kong. All this above makes the NauticEd Sailing Certification the only certification in the world that requires full documentation of experience. Many other weaker certifications you can gain with a few days out on a boat with an instructor. A Yacht Charter Company would never charter a yacht to anyone with 4 or 5 days only of experience on their resume despite what the certification name is. IE Who would charter a boat to someone with an associations bareboat certification but on their resume was 5 days of sailing experience only. The idea is crazy and that is why when we set out the NauticEd ranks and levels we interviewed dozens of yacht charter companies to find out their requirements. Then we built those requirements into our electronic cloud based certification. The full snap shot picture of a stundet is available to a charter company when the student gives the charter company their secret logbook code.

But it doesn’t stop there – we encourage you to read our Sailing Badge system. There you will be recognized for the proper activities your SHOULD be doing if you want to be a good sailor. This will set in place good habits and is especially good for self taught persons. No other system in the world is this focused on teaching sailing education and making it this accessible.

So in summary – here are the differences

USCG Captains License

  • Only needed if you are operating for remuneration
  • Sailing endorsement is a joke
  • Contains good and valuable information and training
  • Is recognized by most countries as a valid boating license
  • 360 days of boating days required as a minimum
  • Security and back ground checks required
  • Yacht Charter Companies still require you to fill out a sailing experience resume.

NauticEd Captains Certification

Captain Card

NauticEd Captain Card

  • Can not operate for remuneration
  • Extensive Sailing information for boating and sailing
  • Is recognized by most charter companies worldwide as meeting full requirements to charter
  • No charter resume is required because it is inherently built into the NauticEd Certification
  • Your quantity of experience is recognized through levels
  • Level 3 is 50 days
  • Level 4 is 100 days
  • Level 5 is 200 days
  • No issues with security and back ground checks
  • Resume is held in the cloud

So you can see that NauticEd is not focused on commercial operations where as the USCG Captains license is. YET whether you’re wanting to gain a commercial license or recreational certification – we believe that you and your passengers are BEST served by learning as much as you possibly can about boating and sailing.

NauticEd is focused on global accessibility to boating and sailing education. Get started with the NauticEd Captain Certification NOW

If you still need to take the USCG Captain’s license for commercial purposes click here

To me – there are three reasons to gain the NauticEd Captains’ Certification.

(a) A feeling of personal accomplishment outside of your work career

(b) A fully recognized cloud based sailing certification accepted by yacht charter companies world wide

(c) Safety – the worst time to be wishing you had the knowledge is when you need it

Joao – thanks for the great question. we encourage questions such as these to help all our global students.

Earn your USCG Captain’s License with NauticEd

Posted by Director of Education on June 16, 2011 under About NauticEd, Skipper | Read the First Comment

NauticEd announces some pretty exciting news today regarding gaining your USCG Captain’s Licence. We have made a partnership alliance with Mariners Learning System to allow NauticEd Students gain a United States Coast Guard Commercial Captain’s License.

Why would you want a USCG Captains License?

Simply stated: If you are ever planning on receiving remuneration for operating your vessel in the United States waters, you must obtain a Commercial Captains License.

The Captain’s License is often referred to OUPV (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels) or 6-pac license meaning you’re authorized to carry up to 6 passengers.

The USCG Captain’s License does not necessarily contain any specific sailing education but is very much related to boating and boating safety. There is a sailing endorsement that can optionally be attached to the captain’s license but the information and test is very basic.

How does the USCG Captain’s License compare to the NauticEd Captain’s Rank?

The two are designed for completely different purposes. The USCG Captain’s License allows you to gain valuable boating safety information and legally authorize you to captain a boat in commercial situations.

The NauticEd Captain Rank is NOT a commercial boating license – rather it is a recognition that you have studied and passed extensive courses relating to operation and safety of a sailboat and that you have practical boating experience to back it up as indicated by the levels  awarded, Level I, II or III.

What are the requirements of each?

USCG Captain’s License:

  • 360 days of any type of boating experience logged (4 hours counts as a day)
  • US Citizen
  • Security Background Check
  • Approx 40 hours of study plus 4 hours of exams
  • Total costs involved about $1500 including security checks study materials etc
  • Acceptance: United States Government plus Bareboat Charter Companies world wide
  • Can legally make money with your boating services

NauticEd Captain’s Rank

  • minimum of:
    • 50 days of Sailing Experience (4 hours counts as a day) for level I
    • 100 days for Level II
    • 200 days for Level III
    • 50% of which must be skipper of the vessel
    • 50% of which must be on a sailboat greater than 28 ft
  • Approx 55 hours of study incl 10 hours tests
  • Total costs – about $300
  • Acceptance: Bareboat Charter Companies world wide
  • Can not offer your skippering services for remuneration

Can the License and Rank work in Unison?

Yes absolutely. If you’re intending on offering skippering services on a sailboat we’d recommend doing both the USCG Captain’s License for boating safety and legal reasons plus the NauticEd Captain’s Rank for extensive sailing and boating operations.

If you’re just going to be operating a power boat we recommend Mariners Learning System for attaining your USCG Captain’s License.


More about Mariners Learning System

Mariners Learning System™ Suite of Coast Guard approved Online Captain’s Licensing courses offer an alternative to the regular testing process held at the USCG Regional Exam Centers. Over the years Mariners Learning System™ has trained thousands of students to get their Captain’s License. Our clients currently enjoy a 98.7% pass rate with our Coast Guard Approved Licensing programs.

We enjoy this high level of success because our curriculum is based on teaching understanding not memorization.

Mariners Learning System™ is an extraordinary learning tool that incorporates broadcast quality, on-demand audio lectures, professionally produced training videos, and integrated online computer based training. Included with each Mariners Learning System™ approved course is 24/7 access to our online instructors. Every instructor is a USCG Licensed Master that has gone through a rigorous approval process meeting the standards of the United States Coast Guard to become a certified instructor. They bring a level of knowledge, experience, and professionalism that adds to the total learning process. In the rare event that an online instructor cannot answer your question, toll free telephone support with one of our Staff Instructors will be provided.

Upon successful completion of your course simply submit, within one year, your application package to a Coast Guard Regional Exam Center. Upon their review and approval of your package, they will issue you an original Captain’s License.


Mariners Learning System™ Coast Guard approved Online Captain’s Licensing courses offer an alternative to the regular testing process held at the USCG Regional Exam Centers. These courses are structured for those pursuing a professional career in commercial boating operations (including carrying passengers for hire) and for recreational boaters wishing to increase their knowledge and skills.



Sailing Resume – Logbook

Posted by Grant Headifen on January 18, 2010 under About NauticEd, Skipper, Videos and photos | Be the First to Comment

Here is a question posted by Nancy KnudsenEditor Sail-World Cruising. Sail-world is one of the largest and respected online sailing news companies ( to NauticEd this week. Followed by our answer.

On 1/16/10 6:47 PM, “Nancy Knudsen Cruising Editor Sail-World” <> wrote:

Hi Grant
I have a question about the sailing certification video you have sent me.   The practical experience that is mentioned in the video.  For a sailor not within practical distance of your facilities, how does this happen.  Do you take the word of the sailor that they have completed this? – or what happens.

As my readership is international, this is a very important point for me.  (I understand that if it is an honour system then the ‘verification’ process at the end would make up for this)

Nancy Knudsen
Sail-World Cruising

TetraMedia established in 2000, operates the largest online marine news network in the world. It now has regional sites around the world, with Sail-World UK-Europe, Sail-World Asia, Sail-World NZ, Sail-World USA, Sail-World Australia, Sail-World Cruising International, Sail-World Cruising USA, Sail-World Cruising Canada, Sail-World Australian Cruising, Powerboat-World and Marine Business News.

Each week, more than 165,000 newsletters are sent to subscribers, by its seven editors. More than a million individual boaters have visited Sail-World and Powerboat-World in 2009.

This is NauticEd’s response


Yes  – as with all charter company resumes – it is the honor system. It is completely impossible to verify time. Additionally the United States Coast Guard accepts the honor system for the USCG Commercial Captains license as do most other country licenses.

What I’ve been able to do is to also back this up with a Proficiency Verification by a NauticEd affiliated sailing school. Right now we are encouraging schools to be affiliated with us because there are a ton of “students” (we are all students) out there who don’t see the value in taking a basic course if they are already past that point. Thus the entire sailing school network is missing out on touching many students. With the verification check out, schools now can actually add this to their income stream thus it’s a big incentive for them to align. Students benefit by solidifying their resume to charter companies and by picking up a few professional tips along the way.

The technology is simple but clever. When an instructor is finished verifying a student’s proficiency, he or she simple logs into the site and clicks the verification button against the student. Before the student can get home, their certificate is updated with the Verification stamp.

We’re making it pretty simple for a school to sign up with us. They must be an established school with a website and have commercially legal instructors and follow our standard when performing a verification. A new system that we will implement shortly is a way for students to publicly rate the experience with the school on-line on our site. This ensures the school is providing an excellent learning experience for the students else they may get a bad rating. This I think is essential for the growth of the industry – no one in the sailing industry wants a single student to have a bad/boring/unprofessional initiation experience to sailing.

So to answer you question specifically – we plan on expanding our verification-training schools. However even with out a verification the honor system for building a resume is fine. Whats’ exciting to us is our sailing iPhone app which makes it easy for a student to update their resume on the dock in 2 clicks.

If you have any more questions please let me know.


Grant Headifen
Ph 512-696-1070

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USCG Captain’s Course

Posted by Director of Education on December 22, 2008 under Skipper | Be the First to Comment

I recently finished my Coast Guard Captain’s license and then further completed my Master Mariner license with a sailing endorsement. I took the course through the Mariners School ( The experience was good. The requirements to get your USCG Captain’s license are extensive so here’s a quick list.

  • About 3 full weekends in class
  • Very extensive test out in 3 sections in a 4 hour exam. Multiple choice but there was plotting involved to attain the answers.

The sections were:

  1. Navigation
  2. Rules of the road
  3. Deck General
  • You need to have spent 365 days on the water since you were 15 yrs old
  • To get an offshore endorsement you must have had 90 days outside a demarcation line from the USA (which is usually less than 5 – 10 miles out)
  • Practical time needs to be documented
  • any practical time where you are not the owner of the boat needs to be signed off by the boat owner.
  • Completed a Red Cross first aid course – about 1 evening.
  • Present your social security card and proof of citizenship
  • Present 3 letters of character recommendation
  • Do a drug test
  • An in person trip to the local Coast guard office
  • Total all up cost is about $1500 and about 120 hours of time

Beyond all that it’s an interesting process. What it gets you is the ability to charge money to up to 6 people when captaining a boat. With out the USCG Captain’s license it is against the law to charge money.

Once you get through the whole process, even if you were completely competent before, you have definitely learned some things. Many of the people in the class that I took in Austin Texas were solely doing it for safety/knowledge purposes because they were planning extended trips. So the course is not just for people wanting to charge money to captain a sailboat.

I can certainly say that most of the boating knowledge is contained in the Courses and Clinics of NauticEd but I’m also recommending that if you have the time on the water documented then you should go through and get your USCG captains license.

The course is all theory knowledge and theory test out as the Coast Guard assume that if you have 365 days on the water then you probably have some decent experience.

What’s really interesting is that most countries through out the world require this kind of process to just operate a boat. Some states in the USA require a water safety class but still no where near what some of the European countries require. Here in the USA we tend to have a Laissez Faire attitude when it comes to water. ie Let us govern ourselves. It’s an interesting debate and we are staying out of that argument. However, we are certainly promoting boat knowledge and handling education as we believe this will reduce accidents, increase water sports participation and generally increase peace on the planet because every one is having too much fun on the water – right? We’d all like to think that the other guy operating the boat heading towards you is competent and responsible.

There are about 12 states right now that require a water saftey class and i did read a blog somewhere where the USCG is considering federally to require everyone to have a boating knowledge certificate before operating a vessel. That may be a while but I’m still sure that the course will be pretty watered down (pun intended).

However – right now regarding real boating knowledge and certification, in the USA there is the USCG Captians License and nothing below that except various associations offering boating knowledge certificates such as by the American Sailing Association and US Sailing. Power boat certificates are almost non existent. Similarly, the NauticEd Certificate represents that you have passed a boating knowledge course and is not federally recognised because again the only one recognized is the full on USCG Captains license. That’s it!

But with a short plug for NauticEd if you don’t mind, the NauticEd courses have been written by practical training authors who have really experienced what it takes to have the knowledge and be safe on the water. The courses can be adjusted as needed because of its online nature and therefore are about as uptoday as you can get and with contributions via this blog we can monitor the wishes of our students. Thousands of hours have been invested in the courses and major companies like West Marine, Beneteau, Sunsail, Moorings, Profurl, Blue Water Sailing magazine, Latitudes and Attitudes Magazine are linking in and endorsing the NauticEd courses and certificates. Additionally, sailing schools themselves are linking in and using the courses as part of their coriculum.

As stated in previous blogs, NauticEd does not propose it is a replacement for the USCG Captain’s license or any of the current association offered Certificates. What NauticEd is proposing is that the knowledge is at the finger tips of everyone in the world and therefore the information can be accessed simply and easily and therefore more people will be safer because of the simple access to information. And having taken the courses here, a person showing up for practical training will be so far ahead of someone who has not.

So… in summary – if you want to be safe on the water, be confident and be able to deal with the situations that will arise, get as much education as possible. You will never regret it.