Friday, May 1, 2015

So You Want To Be A Captain - No Coast Guard Exam!

After you completed the Mariners Learning System coursework, you will need to take our proctored exam in order to get your OUPV/Six-pack or 25/50/100 Ton Master Captain’s license, etc. Mariners Learning System has USCG-approved testing facilities all over the country. Once you complete and pass the exam, you will receive a MLS Certificate of Completion. This Certificate of Completion is accepted as a substitute to taking the corresponding USCG exams. To find one of our Coast Guard approved locations and corresponding test dates, go here.

You can locate the state you reside or the one closest to you. You will know if we have a testing location in your state if it’s colored in blue. Remember that it’s important to register early. It will guarantee you a seat as spaces fill up quickly and registration closes within fourteen days of the exam. Those that are still listed within fourteen days mean that you can still register for that time. You will need your electronic confirmation form when you arrive for test day.

Besides the exam enrollment form, you will need your online final exam completion letters and USCG- recognized photo identification. Here is a list of those that are acceptable:
  • U.S. Military identification card
  • U.S. driver’s license
  • U.S. Passport
  • Official identification card issued by a State, or local government.
  • Official identification card issued by the Federal Government.
  • Law enforcement credential, with photograph of the applicant, issued by Federal, State or local government
  • Merchant Marine Document issued after February 3, 2003
  • Foreign Passport
Once you have those items settled, all you have to worry about is the exam. There are no worries here. When you successfully completed your Mariners Learning System coursework and lessons, the exam will be a breeze. Happy Testing!


So you want to be a Captain - How difficult is the test?

Mariners are required to successfully pass written examinations in order to earn a Coast Guard License. This applies to original licensing, as well as raises of grade, increases of scope, and renewal, both for officer and rating endorsements. 

Exam topics include Navigational Rules of the Road, Deck General and Safety, Environmental Protection, Navigation General, and Plotting Questions. The total number of questions and minimum passing score depends on the type of license you wish to obtain. 

The OUPV/Six-pack or Charter Boat Captain's License is the most popular of the Captain's Licenses and is required for those wishing to offer fishing and sailing charters, drive a dive boat, or run sightseeing tours, etc. This license is commonly referred to as a "Six-pack" because it allows the holder to take up to six paying passengers and crew on the water.

The grading standards for this license are shown on the following chart:

What do I need to know about testing?

Passing the test requires study, but you can do it. Taking an approved course will help you be prepared to pass the test (for example, more than 25,000 students have taken a Mariners Learning System online course since 2002, with a 98.7% success rate). We run hundreds of approved testing facilities throughout the country. A view a current list of dates and locations Click on this link.

What if I fail the test?

A big benefit of taking the exam through an authorized trainer like the MLS is that not only did we write the course but we also wrote the final exam, so your preparation will enable you to pass the course with flying colors and you will know where you stand during each stage that you prepare for the exam. If you do not pass one or more modules, you may retest twice more without delay on just the failed module. But don't worry! As long as you follow our processes and procedures throughout the learning experience there should be no surprises along the way.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

So You Want To Be a Captain - Why Our Students Succeed

Mariners Learning System is highly regarded and recognized, with its award winning courses earning the approval of the United States Coast Guard, National Maritime Center, Department of Military, Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security.

Our teaching style is based on making the assumption that you know nothing. This does not mean that we speak down to you, it simply means that we will build the foundation on which you will learn. We believe that you need to crawl before you walk and that you need to walk before you run. By incorporating this methodology with our standard practice of teaching understanding, not just how to pass the USCG Exam, we enjoy a success rate that is unrivaled in the industry.
This learning method, refined and perfected by years of experience, has proven remarkably effective and is the reason Mariners Learning System has one of the highest success rates (98.7% with 25,000+ graduates) in the industry.

We invite you to learn more about our school, and specifically, our Captain's License Program. You may be surprised at how easy and affordable it can be to obtain your Captains License. Whether you're a casual weekend boater, or a maritime industry professional, we'll help you learn the numerous ways you will benefit from becoming a licensed Captain.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

So You Want To Be a Captain-Benefits of earning a USCG License

When asked  what is the primary benefit of getting a license our first response goes something like this: “Getting your license is like having a key that is capable of opening many doors… If an opportunity presents itself and you have the key (Captain’s License) you can either choose to walk through the door or around… However, if you do not have the correct key you will never be able to unlock the door.” Funny thing about this saying… The more keys I have hanging from my belt the luckier I keep getting! 

So why do most want to get their license in the first place?  
  • To work as a paid captain or mate
  • To start a fishing charter business
  • To learn or refresh your boating and seamanship skills
  • To earn a credential that shows your experience and may even reduce insurance costs
This is just a short list of the reasons why many of our clients decide that now is the time to earn their Captain’s License.

What if becoming a full time Captain is not for you… Perhaps 80% of our clients get their license for the personal knowledge and safety that will comes from that knowledge. They have no interest in using their licenses professionally, however, they recognize that some day those plans may change… Many of our students are guys and gals looking to supplement their current full time income with some additional cash…. They find jobs working for BoatUS or perhaps working for the Duck Boats or a Sea Taxi operation ferrying passengers around. This type of work can be seasonal and does not need to interfere with your full time job. 

What if you own a boat and wish to turn your passion of fishing into a paycheck. By earning  your Captain’s License you can turn this dream into a reality. What kind of money can you charge? Captain John Luchka of Long Run Fishing Charters ( offers half-day fishing trips for $650.00. Captain John works full time for Princeton Tec as an Industrial Sales Manager. On many weekends throughout the year he is off doing what he loves… Sharing the fishing experience with others. “Since getting my license I have established my guide service out of New York, Long Run Fishing Charters. Besides earning additional income, I have had the opportunity to speak at and market my business at fishing and boating shows as well as network with others in the industry. It has also led to writing for numerous magazines and appearing on Addictive Fishing TV, Northeast Angling TV and appearing with George Poveromo and his Saltwater Sportsman Seminar Series.” 

You do the math… If this sounds like something you are interested in without a license it will always be a dream and never become your reality.

We would love to hear what you think about this post. Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Introducing Captain in a Box

The Convenient Way to Earn Your Captain’s License Online!

Mariners Learning System™ is proud to introduce Captain in a Box™, our newest product line featuring everything you need to earn your Captain’s License online, wrapped up in an all-inclusive “box.”

The innovative Captain in a Box™ education system is built on the philosophy of providing “Knowledge and Knowhow... Anytime, Anywhere.” We've incorporated an intuitive learning approach that’s direct, clear, and effective. The Captain in a Box™ courseware provides students with a hands-on learning experience through online access to award-winning interactive software, along with online training videos, study guides, checklists, charts, plotting tools, mobile applications, and other valuable learning tools.

Earn Your Captain’s License with Captain in a Box™:

Learn Anytime, Anywhere! Whether you are on the road or at sea, Captain in a Box™ is along for the ride. Access your online classroom, training videos, and audio lectures from your Mac, PC, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, iPad, MP3 player, or virtually any other Smartphone.

24/7 Access to Online Instructors! With Captain in a Box™, you’ll never feel like you’re lost at sea.  Each course includes 24/7 access to our online instructors, so you can learn at your own pace and on your own time.

Coast Guard & Veteran Approved!  Our Veterans Administration Approved Training and Coast Guard Approved online courses are ideal for military members who want to earn their captain’s license.

Upon completing the course, taking our proctored exam, and meeting other requirements such as documenting sea time and passing a physical examination, you simply submit, within one year, the application package to the nearest Coast Guard Regional Exam Center and upon review and approval, they will issue your captain’s license.

Whether you are looking for a new career or a new adventure, Captain in a Box™ delivers a powerful online learning solution that is available on-demand and on-the-go to suit your busy lifestyle!

Visit for a complete list of Deluxe and Digital Editions.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Confessions of a Captain - How the Navigational Rules of the Road saved my life

As a USCG Licensed Captain, a lot of opportunities come my way to earn a living. One of my
favorites is working as a delivery Captain. I would like to share one of these trips that was like no other and nearly cost my crew and me our lives... 

I was sitting in a restaurant in Annapolis Maryland a few years ago when I met a couple who had just bought a 58 foot boat that they needed to have moved down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. After the evening’s festivities were over we agreed that I was going to help their family with moving their new toy. 

On board would be the husband and wife who were both experienced boaters, their two children, a 9-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. The trip would take place in early December and be completed prior to the holidays. The planned route was that we would travel the length of the Chesapeake Bay and exit into the Atlantic Ocean once we were in Norfolk, Virginia. Once we were out in the Atlantic we would be traveling southward along the coastline ducking inside to the ICW in the event of bad weather or the need for additional supplies or repairs.

We departed at the crack of dawn and had an uneventful day. Along the way I would ask the owners questions that pertained to the rules of the road to check understanding and educate them whenever necessary. I also took the time to check out all of the electronics and autopilot controls. This boat was missing nothing and was appraised at 1.6 million dollars. Experience has taught me not to be impressed with the price, but with the operational functionality of the vessel. This was one impressive boat and much to my surprise everything seemed to be working. Now the only thing to worry about was my crew.

As the day progressed I determined that we were going to be heading out into the ocean after dark. The area around Norfolk is a very heavily traveled area by numerous recreational, commercial and military vessels. As day becomes night the area can become very challenging to navigate even by an experienced Captain. I decided that it would be best for me to get some sleep prior to entering this heavily traveled area. A course was set, the autopilot was on and clear instructions to the crew were given. The most important instruction was to stay on the preplanned course and speed and not cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel area without waking me. I was assured all was understood and that my instructions would be followed. So I was able to now settle down into what nearly became my last sleeping moments...

I was abruptly wakened by the screams of sheer terror coming from the owner’s wife requesting me to go topside and take control of the helm. I immediately jumped into action not asking any questions along the way. Once on deck I saw two of the brightest white spotlights I have ever seen shinning directly on the helm. There was no time to think and analyze the situation; I immediately turned the helm hard to starboard. At that very moment the Captains of what was two very large seagoing tugboats pulling what appeared to be several barges also turned their wheels hard to starboard. All that I could do now was to wait for the impending impact of our vessels hitting to occur along with the cold rush of water and the effects it would have on the crew and myself. At this time of year the water temperature was around 42 degrees and the moon had not risen. If we went into the water hypothermia would have disabled each of us and we would perish within just a matter of a few minutes. The only thing on our side was that I have a rule on these trips that all crew must wear lifejackets while on deck. In this case I think the lifejackets would have just made it easier for the recovery of our bodies.

In what had seemed to be a lifetime it was all over. We had missed by no more than the width of a football. It was almost as if King Neptune himself had decided that it was not our time to go and stepped in to prevent this tragedy from occurring. The truth be told our survival was due more to knowledge then that of luck or by any intervention from the heavenly bodies.

Let’s break down the events that allowed me and my crew live another day to tell this story. First, each Captain involved had a thorough knowledge of the Rules of the Road that allowed the necessary actions to take place-avoiding loss of life. In this case there were three rules that prevented this situation from becoming a tragedy:

Rule 14 – Head-on Situation: This rule states that when two power-driven vessels are meeting on a reciprocal or nearly reciprocal course so as to involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so each shall pass on the port side of the other. This rule is why each Captain altered their course to starboard.

Rule 16 – Action by Give-way Vessel: Every vessel that is directed to keep out of the way of another vessel shall, so far as possible, take early and substantial action to keep well clear. In this case my vessel was considered the give-way vessel. We were clearly not following this rule prior to me taking the helm.

Rule 17 – Action by Stand-on Vessel: This rule has 3 components:

1.     When one of the two vessels is to keep out of the way, the other shall maintain her course and speed.  Although I was not at the helm I am sure that the two tugs did hold their course and speed.
2.  The stand-on vessel may take action to avoid collision as soon as it becomes apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way is not taking appropriate action in compliance with these rules. The two tugs were not obligated to change course at this point. They did have the option according to the rules; however, they chose to hold their course and speed.
3.   When the stand-on vessel finds herself so close that a collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such action as will best aid to avoid collision. This is the moment that I took the helm. The tugs determined that my actions alone would not prevent a collision so they were bound by the Rules of the Road to change their course and speed or take any additional action to avoid a collision.

Now that the excitement was over and my knees stopped shaking my new target was the owner of the vessel who, from this day forward, has been known as reckless Randall. However, fate had once again stepped in. Reckless Randall’s wife took him below and he was not seen on deck until the following morning. I am not sure what she had said to him but it was clear my input was no longer necessary.

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So you want to be a Captain - What if I am color blind?

What numbers do you see?
Many people who have been diagnosed as being color blind have either been misinformed or believe that they cannot meet the physical requirements to earn a U.S. Coast Guard issued Captains License. This is 100% NOT TRUE! If it sounds like I am talking about you then be sure to read on....

Color blindness is the inability to distinguish the differences between certain colors. This condition results from an absence of color-sensitive pigment in the cone cells of the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye.

Color blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world. There are different causes of color blindness. For the vast majority of people with deficient color vision the condition is genetic and has been inherited from their mother, although some people become color blind as a result of other diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis or they acquire the condition over time due to the aging process, medication etc.

Testing for Color-blindness

The type of test you're probably most familiar with is done using Ishihara plates or pseudoisochromatic plates (PIP). An Ishihara plate shows an assemblage of color dots with a number in the middle made with different colored dots. Ishihara plates can help diagnose red-green color vision defects. It isn't the perfect test, though -- sometimes the colors in one set don't quite match up with the plates in a different set, or maybe they look different in one kind of lighting than in another.

Another option is the Farnsworth Lantern Test (FALANT) which is often regarded as the simplest and most accurate color vision test. Research has proven this test has a lower fail rate than other commonly used tests such as the pseudoisochromatic plate  books. The test consists of showing a pair of vertically oriented lights consisting of combinations of either red, green or yellow-white. The test subject is asked to identify the two colors (some of which are identical). Nine color pairs are administered during the test, beginning with a red/green combination, to allow the patient to see these two colors prior to seeing a white light, which decreases testing errors. The examinee is shown the target for only two seconds, as color-deficient patients can sometimes correctly identify the colors with prolonged exposure. The yellow-white light, or one of the identical paired lights, employs a 50% neutral gray filter to reduce luminance cues to the color-deficient patient. Random presentation reduces memorization of the test sequence.

In the Coast Guard's world there are no intermediate levels of colorblindness the test conducted by your physician is a pass/fail examination. If you are unable to pass your color vision test, don't worry, the U.S. Coast Guard will simply impose a daytime restriction on your license. This just means that you cannot operate a vessel professionally from sunset to sunrise.

Bottom line - Color blindness, no matter how severe, will not prevent you from qualifying for a USCG issued Captains License!

Mariners Learning System is the go-to place for education and information on obtaining a Captains License. Fully certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, we are known for providing Knowledge and Knowhow... Anytime, Anywhere and help thousands of students pass their Captain's exam each year!

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