After preparing all of our paperwork and gathering our sea-time we packed our bags and flew to Los Angeles, California.
Sea Service Documentation
This is, in my opinion, the toughest part of the entire process. We had to gather all of our time spent on ships, boats and our own boats in the past five years and get signatures for sea time served. Since we both worked as hydrographers before moving aboard Camille we spent a lot of time on different boats. Each captain you work under has to sign your time spent on his/her boat until you have enough to satisfy the requirement. Dennis has a very succinct explanation of exactly what is needed for any given license on his website. Just choose the license you are after in the left column. Verena and I now have 100 ton near coastal master licenses – upgraded from 50 tons.
Since this was a renewal, all of our STCW endorsements carried over from our original license. If we had waited too long or not had enough sea time since our original licence we would have had to take a Basic Safety Training refresher course (about $750). Thanks to our time spent working for NOAA aboard the Fairweather, we have STCW endorsements for advanced firefighting, fast-rescue boats (lifeboatman) and towing. I have a medical person in charge endorsement.
I called the Coast Guard REC and scheduled a test for my sailing endorsement for the following week. The sailing endorsement test is a rather straightforward exam comprised of 20 questions. In order to receive a passing score a sailor needs to get 70% of the questions correct. This meant I could miss six questions. After I completed the test I handed my answer sheet to the officer behind the counter. He said he could grade it right away and took it over to his desk across the room. He came back to the counter with a grave look on his face and said that I missed eight! Then he smiled and said I missed question #8. I was one answer shy of a perfect score.