General Question

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Does a captain's license affect recreational sailing?

Asked by rpm_pseud0name (8180 points ) September 8th, 2011

Is it possible to combine a captains license, with recreational sailing? The purpose of obtaining the license was only for the legitimate title of ‘captain’. (seems silly, but that is the question)

Is it possible to take the common ‘six-pack’, operator of uninspected vessel (OUPV) exam to get the title of captain & then sail for recreational purposes without the limitations of the license? The OUPV has strict guidelines on the vessel, including tonnage, paying passengers & no international waters. But those apply to commercial vessels like whale watching & tours.

Side questions:

Can you sail (recreationally) in international waters with no captains license?

Once you pass the exam to become captain, are there certain limitations/obligations you have to abide by, even for when you sail recreationally?

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6 Answers

janbb's avatar

Will ask my husband when he comes upstairs.

CWOTUS's avatar

This should answer most of your questions, I think.

No license that I’m aware of is required for operation of a recreational vessel in international waters. Regulations for carrying passengers “for hire” in coastal waters will depend on whose coastal waters you’re operating in. Licensing is required for fare-paying passenger vessel operation in US coastal waters.

janbb's avatar

Looks like @CWOTUS has it covered.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

So, just to be clear. In my hypothetical scenario… I could get my captains license. Get a 30ft sailboat. Sail around international waters (alone/recreationally) & not be in any legal trouble?

CWOTUS's avatar

You don’t need the license to sail your own boat in international waters, and in coastal / inland US waters you may not need a license at all “to sail”. However, since no one uses “only sail”, most jurisdictions will require some form of pilot’s license to operate your sailboat under power, no matter how low-powered the engine is. Even so, that wouldn’t rise to the level of a captain’s license.

In Connecticut, for example, you can operate even very large recreational vessels – pleasure only; no charters – with a Safe Boating Certificate (jet ski operation requires a “Personal Watercraft Certificate”, which includes the SBC above). Vessels under 16’ and / or without power require zero certification.

janbb's avatar

Spoke to my husband and his information is the same as CWOTUS’s. Having a Captain’s License has no impact on recreational sailing with non-paying guests. You would need it for paying guests. We do have friends who sail their boat around the Mediterranean. They did not have Captain’s Licenses but did get them a few years ago because some countries wanted certification. I guess for that you would have to check on a country by country basis. In NJ, you are required to take a (short) Safe Boating Course to operate a boat with a motor, including sailboats..

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