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So far Patricia has created 34 blog entries.

Finally: Inspected Mates over 200 GT to be recognized as Master 100


Since at least 1989, 46 CFR 15.901(a) has read as follows: "An individual holding a merchant mariner credential (MMC) endorsed as mate or pilot of inspected self-propelled vessels of 200 gross registered tons (GRT) or more is authorized to serve as master on inspected self- propelled vessels of less than 100 GRT within any restrictions on the MMC, without further endorsement." While the language and intent seem clear, for several [...]

Finally: Inspected Mates over 200 GT to be recognized as Master 1002021-08-23T14:44:38-07:00

Examination Room References Now Available


The American Practical Navigator ("Bowditch") Years ago a successful candidate for the Master Unlimited Oceans credential and his wife named their new-born son Nathaniel as homage to Nathaniel Bowditch, author of The American Practical Navigator and the knowledge whisperer long used by people taking US Coast Guard exams. Nathaniel is now over 30 years of age yet the 1981 edition of Volume II of "Bowditch" still sustains candidates. There [...]

Examination Room References Now Available2021-06-14T17:35:59-07:00

Rule 9: Narrow Channels


One of the thornier Rules of the Road, Rule 9, Narrow Channels, addresses navigation in particularly precarious areas. Because narrow channels proliferate on waters shoreward of demarcation lines, it is not surprising that there are a number of significant differences between the International (COLREGS) and the Inland versions of this rule. For now, we will only consider the use of the Doubt (Danger) signal in a Narrow Channel. In [...]

Rule 9: Narrow Channels2021-08-24T08:27:34-07:00

Clarifying MSIB 08-20 Change 5


Marine Safety Information Bulletin 08-20 Change 5 is the most recent update to NMC's COVID policies with reference to credential endorsements, medical certificates and course approvals. The following are of particular interest to active mariners: National Endorsements: MMCs that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, are extended until the EARLIER of October 31, 2021, OR one (1) year after the initial expiration date of the credential (as [...]

Clarifying MSIB 08-20 Change 52021-01-23T20:46:53-08:00


Add Seattle REC to the list of 11 Regional Examination Centers open by September 14.



Add Boston's Regional Examination Center to those now open for testing as of Monday August 31. Six down, fourteen to go.


The SS American Mariner


In the 1950s, the US Maritime Administration commissioned several classes of single-screw break bulk cargo vessels. The SS American Mariner, technically a C4-S-1a vessel, is used in US Coast Guard examinations as the platform for various stability calculations. Originally these questions only appeared on Unlimited Master AGT and Unlimited Chief Mate AGT exams. Now they can be found on exams for Masters 500/1600 NC/Oceans, and Mates 500/1600/AGT NC and [...]

The SS American Mariner2020-08-15T19:35:23-07:00

More RECs to Reopen (Add Houston, Honolulu, San Juan)


The National Maritime Center today announced both the Regional Examination Center in Juneau and the Ketchikan Monitoring Unit have reopened. Houston and Honolulu RECs and San Juan MU are now scheduled to reopen Monday August 24. The re-openings are contingent upon affected mariners adhering closing to COVID policies as described here.

More RECs to Reopen (Add Houston, Honolulu, San Juan)2020-08-18T16:11:38-07:00

Waiting to Test


While waiting (and waiting) for the Regional Examination Centers to open, mariners who've spent months learning and carefully stowing tons (long tons = 2240 lbs) of knowledge have begun to worry about the deleterious effects of neglect (contamination = dust). To help ventilate those holds crammed with information (hot to cold: ventilate bold, cold to hot: ventilate not), CNS is offering week-long refresher courses for both deck and engine [...]

Waiting to Test2021-01-23T20:59:35-08:00

Loading & Unloading Oil Cargoes: Calculations


Many of the Deck Examinations on the new "Q" tests contain two types of questions about loading and unloading oil cargoes. Both require calculation. The first asks for a quantity. The second wants to know the time and date of final loading. To determine the quantity of oil cargo loaded or discharged, remember two things. First, oil cargoes expand or contract depending upon temperature and second, "net" barrels are [...]

Loading & Unloading Oil Cargoes: Calculations2020-03-31T11:37:36-07:00

Elbow Room: Staying Within an Anchorage


You are arriving in port and are assigned to anchor in anchorage circle B-4. It has a diameter of 500 yards and your vessel's LOA is 484 feet. If you anchor in 8 fathoms at the center of the circle, what is the maximum number of shots of chain you can use and still remain in the circle? There are two ways to solve these kinds of problems.  One [...]

Elbow Room: Staying Within an Anchorage2020-08-15T16:51:08-07:00

Minimum Freeboard


At small angles of inclination, a vessel’s stability is indicated by her metacentric height (GM). But when a vessel encounters conditions that cause her to roll, heave, pitch, sway and yaw excessively, for example in heavy or rough seas, it is her reserve buoyancy that counters the effects of those forces. Reserve buoyancy is the volume of enclosed spaces above the waterline and is measured by freeboard. Generally, more [...]

Minimum Freeboard2021-02-13T16:38:33-08:00

QMED Endorsements for Engine Officers (No exam)


In Policy Letter 04-18, the Coast Guard clarifies a requirement that technically became effective March 24, 2014.  Prior to that date, certain engineering officer endorsements allowed the holder to act as a Qualified Member of the Engine Department (QMED) even though the endorsement was not shown on the credential.  Per Policy Letter 04-18, this is no longer the case.  Because of this change, the Coast Guard is offering an opportunity to [...]

QMED Endorsements for Engine Officers (No exam)2019-01-05T21:28:20-08:00

Radar Plotting Review


While the requirement for Radar Renewal may be going away for some mariners, it's not gone yet and for others, mariners with limited recent sea-time, Radar Renewal may continue to be required.  Here is a link to a Radar Plotting Review just in case.

Radar Plotting Review2018-10-13T12:23:14-07:00

Bruce Sherman


The director of our Engineering Program is Bruce Sherman.  A Northwest native, Bruce holds an unlimited horsepower Chief Engineers Motor License, and a 3rd Assistant Steam license. He is a graduate of Macalester College in landlocked Minnesota, and got his Engineers training at the MEBA’s Calhoon School in Baltimore. Bruce sailed for more than 30 years in all engine room licensed ratings. He was a plank holder on the M/V [...]

Bruce Sherman2018-10-03T10:31:55-07:00

Towing Questions . . . and Answers


In response to the vast number of questions related to Towing Vessels — Subchapter M compliance, manning, etc. — the Coast Guard has created the Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) and TugSafe Central. The sites, which link to each other, answer every imaginable question pertaining to the safe and legal operation of these vessels. TugSafe Central includes an Inspected Towing Vessel Decision Aid capable of generating a custom requirement list for a [...]

Towing Questions . . . and Answers2018-09-25T15:02:09-07:00

Do You Still Need to Renew Your Radar?


Maybe not. Effective July 22, 2019, the long anticipated changes to the Radar Renewal requirements were implemented. The changes announced in the Federal Register of June 7, 2019 had been only slightly modified from the original proposal of June 18, 2018 and are as follows: A mariner who serves in a relevant position on board a radar-equipped vessel for 1 year in the previous 5 years will no longer [...]

Do You Still Need to Renew Your Radar?2021-02-16T12:27:42-08:00

Anchor Whelps


It is hard to imagine the pleasure of drinking wine being diminished by not knowing the name of the indentation in the bottom of the wine bottle.  And plenty of shoes have been successfully tied by people who do not know the name of the thingamajig at the end of a shoelace.  It’s the same with ground tackle onboard ship.  Anchors have been heaved, weighed, dragged, dredged, kedged, dropped [...]

Anchor Whelps2021-06-11T20:15:29-07:00

ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)


Near Coastal and Celestial examinations for deck licenses will often include an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) problem. The more interesting of this type are trans-Pacific crossing the International Date Line. The trick to these problems is not to think — not to think about the Date Line or the date or the direction of travel.  Instead, translate all times (departure, elapsed and arrival) through Greenwich.For example: Here is a [...]

ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)2018-10-13T23:51:17-07:00

Get Smart, Go Astern


In a study published in Psychological Science (May 2009), Dutch researchers determined that “Backward locomotion appears to be a very powerful trigger to mobilize cognitive resources.” The Rules of the Road anticipated this conclusion in Rule 8 by advising that “if a vessel needs more time to avoid collision or assess the situation, she shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means [...]

Get Smart, Go Astern2018-10-13T23:45:42-07:00
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