There are a couple of options depending on your citizenship status and boating experience. In general, the amount of boating experience and size of vessels on which you have spent time on will influence the license for which you are eligible.
The two main captain's licenses issued by the U.S. Coast Guard are the OUPV/Six-pack and the 25/50 or 100 Ton Master License.
The 25/50 or 100 Ton Master License allows the holder to operate inspected vessels as well as uninspected vessels. Any vessel that is authorized to carry more than 6 paying passengers must have on board a Captain who holds a Master License. The tonnage you are awarded for a Master level license is determined by the size of the vessels you have gained experience on. Ferryboats, harbor tours boats, whale watching and water taxis are examples of inspected passenger vessels.
You do not need to first earn your OUPV/Six-pack license before becoming a Licensed Master. We generally recommend that each of our students consider skipping the OUPV/Six-pack license and going directly to the Master level license.
There are two additional endorsements that can be added to your license:
- The Assistance Towing Endorsement can be issued to those who hold a OUPV/Six-pack or Master License and would like to engage in assisting vessels for a fee. To "commercially assist" other vessels that may be aground, disabled or out of fuel, or experiencing some other malfunction requires an endorsement for Commercial Assistance Towing.
- Licensed Master or mates may also be endorsed for sail or auxiliary sail, as appropriate. The Auxiliary Sailing endorsement authorizes the holder to operate inspected sail or auxiliary sailing vessels within the scope and limitations of their license and is required to carry seven or more passengers "under sail."
Whether you're a sailor chasing the wind, a power boater in search of your next big fish or a cruiser looking for the perfect sunset earning your Captain's License will open the door to new opportunities.