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, USCG OUPV or Master 25-100T Captain's License.

The primary requirements are:

  • Age 18 or over

  • 360 days underway experience (4-24hrs on a date = 1 day)

  • 90 of those 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)

  • Completion of the USCG exam OR

  • Completion of a USCG approved course like the BOATWISE OUPV class

  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC Card )

FOUR BASIC MERCHANT MARINER CAPTAIN'S LICENSE LEVEL OVERVIEW:

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

  • See USCG Website for official details.

  • Inland (shoreward) and Seaward (

1. Master Inland: 

Does not allow for any "for hire" on coastal waters.  Inland only, rivers, lakes, etc.

  • 360 *Sea Service Days since age 16;

  • 90 of those 360 days in the last 3 years;

  • NONE of those 360 days need be outside the boundary lines - seaward (example).  


2. Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) Near Coastal - (aka 6pack):

This is the basic level you need to take UP TO 6 passengers for hire on coastal waters. 

  • 360 *Sea Service Days since age 16;

  • 90 of those 360 days in the last 3 years;

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


3. Master Inland/Mate Near Coastal: 

  • 360 *Sea Service Days since age 16;

  • 90 days of those 360 days in the last 3 years;

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


4. Master 25Ton Near Coastal:

This level allows you to take passengers for hire ACROSS NATIONAL BOUNDARIES, i.e. from San Juan Islands, WA in USA to Gulf Islands, CAN.  Or from USVI to BVI.

  • 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 on typical vessel size you were aboard for Sea Service Days.

*SEA SERVICE DAYS:

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

  • Small Vessel Sea Service FORM

    • yes, one for EACH VESSEL.  I created 30+ 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.