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Thread: Where/how do I get my six-pack?

  1. #1
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Question Where/how do I get my six-pack?

    I've got tons of boat-time over the last 30 years but never got licensed because it was mostly on personal boats, but I'm thinking a good winter project would be to take any courses and whatnot that I would need to get licensed. Problem is, I don't really know where to start and I need to do it for as cheap as possible. I figured this would be a good place to ask folks since many of you are Captain's already.

    I figure I have probably 700 days or more of total boat experience, but documenting things from 20 years ago is going to be difficult. How tough is the CG on documenting hours?

    Thanks!

    -CS

  2. #2
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    pretty sure the new standard is that at least a majority of your time has to be w/in the last 3 years.
    get a hold of alaska nautical training school and they can answer all your questions.
    take a class with them and they can administer the test.
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    ?s that the place in Seward? You might check with UAA as well. When I worked at UAS in Juneau we offered the 6-pack and 100 ton course a few times a year.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Try getting online and type into a search "Masters License" and go from there, or better yet contact the Coast Guard, Marine Safety Detachment in the phone book and find out who to call.

    You'll get the best info straight from the CG and I'm pretty sure they have a testing facility right there in Anch. So they have test dates that you need to plan for before anything else.

    Then you can study for the test either thru an online course, or go to someone's class which you'll also find online somewhere I imagine.

    I went to a school in SanDiego that was absolutely excellent but you shouldn't have to travel or pay much more than $800 or so to get the classwork part in. Mainly you'll be studying for the test and believe me the idea of just going down to see if you can pass, there's a LOT of stuff you'll probably not know or have fresh in memory that the test will include so I'd say do someone's class for sure. If you are way experienced at navigation, etc. you could probably self study through an online course and save some money.

    I may be overkilling that point a bit for a six pack, I originally tested for 500 ton master and it was pretty bizarre what I needed to know, should be much easier for six or 100 ton

    They are pretty tough on the documentation of days at sea originally, but if you have former employers who will sign the form, it's pretty much just up to you to figure out your days using their formulas (how many hrs considered a day, etc.) and bring the form to the old emplyer to sign, good to go. If self employed, it might be easy, I don't know how that works the first time. When I initially tested I had years of time and the employers were easy to find, then for my renewals (your license lasts 5 yrs) you need to document the new days since your last license issued and that is actually stunningly easy. If self employed, you just fill out the form and sign for yourself. Wierd but true.

    Good Luck, might be easier than you think for a six pack or even 100 ton. Valuable pce of Paper for sure.

    One tip, go for all the license they'll give you for your time in. If you can test for 100ton, do not settle for six pack.

    Have Fun, you'll be amazed some of the questions they ask.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    IIRC there's a guy out of Cordova that offers the course online. You can also buy a book and CD to study from that has practice tests, but I would recommend a structured course.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I was actually thinking about going for 100-ton. They seem about the same requirement-wise, just need to take a different test I think.

    I was kind of hoping the CG would offer a course for free or for a nominal fee compared to doing it through a private school. I haven't yet been able to contact anyone with the CG who has the info. Waiting on a call back. The biggest thing is going to be documenting days, as I'm just not sure how they do it. Only need 90 in the last 3 years, which I may be able to muster, and I've got another 70 or so total that were job-related, but the rest was personal boating. Tons of time, just no great way to verify or even recall exactly all the days and trips made.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    if you take the ANTS class you will be trained to pass the test.
    ANTS can administer the test, you don't have to go to the CG.
    they will give you 1000 or so questions and you will drill the answers until you know them by rote.
    the test is a subset of those 1000 questions....
    i don't know anyone who has failed to get their license with ANTS, but i know a few folks who tried (and failed) to study on their own and take the test at the CG.
    they all ultimately took the course.
    my advice is save yourself the time ( and money) of hassling with the CG and just pay for the class.
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    $700 for the course...not too bad. I may be able to use my dividend for that.

    I'm assuming 100-ton would allow you to also operate a six-pack vessel? (seems like a stupid question, but want to make sure....lol)

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Yeah it will, you'll just look overqualified, which is always good, right?

    I agree with doing the class thing like ANTS (don't know who that is) but Homerdave is right, they will prep you well for the test.
    they or others who do the training should also be able to help you through the documenting time part, so I'd say don't wait for the CG to call back on questions about that, call someone who teaches test prep.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    One tip, go for all the license they'll give you for your time in. If you can test for 100ton, do not settle for six pack.

    Absolutely! The clock starts over on your experience after you get your license, so go as high as you can reach.

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    Member salmon_bone's Avatar
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    Get all your paper work together for the license acceptance and turn that in.
    Then take your course, therefore the majority of the paperwork will already be going through process and once you pass your exam, go take the oath, and you will get your license faster than turning everything in at once, after you pass the exam course.
    http://www.aknauticaltraining.com/

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    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    I got my license from Alaska Waters Consulting. Their office is in the Dimond Center. Excellent people to work with.

    Definitely get your 100 Ton Masters if you can show the on-water time. I didn't at the time and am kicking myself now.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffhanger View Post
    I got my license from Alaska Waters Consulting. Their office is in the Dimond Center. Excellent people to work with.

    Definitely get your 100 Ton Masters if you can show the on-water time. I didn't at the time and am kicking myself now.
    I got mine there too. I can NOT speak more highly of them. They are the best. They will be absolutely sure you pass the tests. I believe they charge $750 for the course and administering the tests and it will be the best $750 you have ever spent.

    You will only be able to get your 100 Ton Masters if you have documented sea service on boats that will qualify you for that license. Otherwise, for smaller boats (the biggest I've ever operated/owned was a 22' Boston Whaler) you'll be getting your 25 Ton Masters like I did. And don't bother with just a 6 pack license. As Cliffhanger says, you will probably kick yourself for not going the extra small steps to get the 25 Ton. It only takes one or two extra exams and they aren't that difficult. And the 25 Ton will allow you to operate in much more broadly defined waters and also just about any charter boat you'll find around these parts.

    Don't hesitate to contact AWC. The guys there know their stuff and they are the best. Do it before you regret NOT doing it.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I'll give them a call on Monday. Unfortunately for me, I didn't think about this earlier. I think they are just starting a course. I'll probably have to wait until the next one. And yes, I've already figured out that the only thing I'll qualify for is the 25-ton.

    Thanks for the information, guys. It's been really helpful.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    coho slayer,
    when I first figured it out I thought I knew exactly what I could qualify for but, when I went to the school they showed me something about the size of boats I had worked on or the fact that I had tons more time than I needed and they recommended trying for the next level up. Which I did, and the Coast Guard approved my request to test higher. I smoked the tests also which had some influence I think and I got a way better license that way.

    So make sure and talk to your school folks about how high you can test. The guy who ran the school in San Diego was a former Coast Guard guy himself and he really understood the unwritten ideas in the CG testing process so I think he was a major advantage.

    His advice was, "Always Go High on your request, and they admire Time on the Water more than anything" Lots of those CG guys have done Cutter Time and they know what it means to have been out there for years, no matter what your boat size.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    coho slayer,
    when I first figured it out I thought I knew exactly what I could qualify for but, when I went to the school they showed me something about the size of boats I had worked on or the fact that I had tons more time than I needed and they recommended trying for the next level up. Which I did, and the Coast Guard approved my request to test higher. I smoked the tests also which had some influence I think and I got a way better license that way.

    So make sure and talk to your school folks about how high you can test. The guy who ran the school in San Diego was a former Coast Guard guy himself and he really understood the unwritten ideas in the CG testing process so I think he was a major advantage.

    His advice was, "Always Go High on your request, and they admire Time on the Water more than anything" Lots of those CG guys have done Cutter Time and they know what it means to have been out there for years, no matter what your boat size.
    What it boils down to is you can test for whatever level you feel like testing for---the CG doesn't approve or disapprove what tests you take. You can test for a Masters 200 Ton license if you want to, but even if you pass all the tests you still will only get a license for whatever tonnage boat you have operated in the last 3 years. What the CG uses to decide what license they will grant you is your sea service. I tested for, and passed all the tests for the 100 Ton, but the CG would only allow me a 25 Ton because that's what my sea service qualified me for. It's pretty simple. If I can document the proper amount of sea service on boats greater than 25 Ton I can then upgrade to the 100 Ton. For more info click on this: http://www.alaskawatersconsulting.co...er_100_ton.htm
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
    http://muttleycrewfishing.com

  17. #17
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Yes, I saw that. Thanks though. That's how I figured I'd probably only qualify for the 25-ton...I have virtually no time on vessels bigger than that. A few trips on the ferry, and that's about it. Pretty much all been between a canoe to 32-foot cruiser.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Muttley Crew Fishing;809054]What it boils down to is you can test for whatever level you feel like testing for---the CG doesn't approve or disapprove what tests you take. You can test for a Masters 200 Ton license if you want to, but even if you pass all the tests you still will only get a license for whatever tonnage boat you have operated in the last 3 years. What the CG uses to decide what license they will grant you is your sea service.QUOTE]

    That's interesting, I tested a long time ago ('91 or so)and in Long Beach CA which is a major large vessel port so maybe they are tighter there, they certainly would not have let just anyone sit in to test for a 500ton masters license. You had to submit a request to take a test for the license you qualified for. There were some kind of qualifiers that allowed my Sea Service time (about 3x what I needed at that time) but most was not on large enough vessels for that tonnage license. And then as I recall they still took your test results into consideration as I mentioned doing very well on the tests was a definite factor in their granting me a larger license.

    But there were a bunch of Unlimited Oceans kind of guys in there and the fact that it is a Crazy port for traffic down there so those CG guys are Pretty Serious, maybe it's a bit more relaxed in Alaska where it's mostly small Charter guys looking to stay close in with six folks on board. I mean, there were actually a panel of guys sitting behind glass watching us test, they were not taking it lightly at all, the responsibility they were advocating. Which I fully agree with but I remember that real well. And it was probably the large boat test that was that way, so not to get you worrying,.........
    but go prepared to ACE not just survive.

    I'd still say, ask around to make sure your rep (school or CG person) knows what they are doing for what test they tell you to try for
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Hi There,

    When I am not running my charter business, I work at a maritme training instructor at the State of Alaska Maritime Training Center at AVTEC in Seward. I hold a 1600 ton "All Oceans" license and I think I can correctly answer a few questions.

    First if you are testing at an approved school like AVTEC or Alaska Waters or Alaska Nautical you can test at what ever level the school is approved to test at. None are approved to test above the 200 ton level.
    However you need to understand that you are allowed three attempts to pass these exams and the 200 ton exam is exponentally more difficult than the 100 ton.

    If you choose to test at the 200 level and fail, you will not be allowed to test at the 100 level for months.
    The 500/1600 are way, way more difficult than the 200 ton. Testing for these must be done at the USCG regional exam center.

    You can also train with an online course and then test at AVTEC in Seward. This is cheap and easy, since you can learn at your own pace and then test when you are ready. I know the instructors at Alaska Waters and they are very good. The boss used to teach at AVTEC before starting his own business and he is a great teacher.

    I will tell you that before you ever spend any money going to school, you should get approved by NMC for a license. The process has become complicated and the physical (health)requirements have changed and are very are complex. Any sort of health problem will delay the process and if you do not pass the BMI test you can be denied a license.

    Here are some web links to the National Maritime Centers " Mariner's Homepage" and a few other sites that talk about requirements and testing options

    My advice is to stick to the NMC website and forget all the "free" advice you are getting. It is confusing and your path will be determined by NMC, stick with that website. Use the application wizard on the site and you will be fine

    http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/

    http://www.boatwiseclasses.com/faq.html

    http://www.avtec.edu/MarinersLearningSystem.htm


    If you have any more questions about the process, you can PM me and I will be happy to help you get it right.

  20. #20
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Awesome info, thanks AKCAPT. I'll look into all of it.

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