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Southwest Sailing - Path to USCG Captain

So you want to sail for fun...AND PROFIT!  SWsailing can help you chart your course toward earning your USCG Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC), USCG OUPV or Master 25-100T Captain's License.  

Basically, if you want to operate a vessel on the ocean and with paying passengers aboard then you must hold at least an OUPV-Near Coastal or a Master 25T Near Coastal. Without the "Near Coastal" designation you can only take paying passengers around the bay or on rivers, etc., aka "INLAND".

The primary requirements for all MMCs are:

  • Age 18 or over

  • 360 *Sea Service days (4 to 24hrs on any date, all = 1 day) as Master or Crew, not just a passenger,  since the age of 16).

  • 90 of sea service days in the last 3 years

  • Physical, drug test and eye exam

  • Valid CPR/First Aid card

    • Valid CPR/First Aid card (American Red Cross, Heart Assoc. or USCG Approved course)

  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC Card )

  • All levels require completion of an USCG Approved Course and passing a written test.

  • See USCG Website for official details and checklists. 

The Two Basic Levels of MMC (aka "Captain's License"):

1. Charter Boat Captain/6-pack/OUPV - Near Coastal: 

The basic level of Captain's License is the OUPV, Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels - Near Coastal. This allows you to take UP TO 6 paying passengers out to within 100 miles offshore (aka "Near Coastal"). Basic requirements:

2. Master 25-100T - Near Coastal:

This level allows you to take passengers for hire ACROSS NATIONAL BOUNDARIES, i.e. from Friday Harbor, WA, USA to Vancouver Island, BC, CANADA. Or from USVI to BVI.

NOTE: The Uninspected Passenger Vessel limitation of 6-passengers maximum still applies, even if you possess your 25T+ Master MMC. To carry more than 6 passengers the vessel must be INSPECTED and vessel passenger limits are set by the inspection.

  • 720 *Sea Service Days underway experience since age 16;

  • 90 of those 720 days in the last 3 years;

  • 360 of those 720 days outside the boundary lines - seaward  (example).

  • Tonnage rating depends vessel sizes on your Sea Service Days. 25T is minimum granted.

  • USCG Checklist: Master 25-100T - Near Coastal


Each Sea Service Day must be documented FOR EACH VESSEL you've served aboard.

  • Small Vessel Sea Service FORM, and INSTRUCTIONS.

    • yes, one for EACH VESSEL.  I created 60+ to meet my requirements because I sailed for a few days at a time aboard charters and friends boats and I needed all of them to account for my 720 days.​

    • YOU...may have your own boat and so this process can be MUCH simpler.

Have questions?  Give us a call!  We are here to help you achieve your sailing goals!

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