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Old 08-30-2015, 02:37 AM   #1
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How to become qualified to charter a small trawler

I am located 125 miles from the closest harbor (Ventura, Ca) with the desire to become a boater. How does one become qualified or sufficiently trained to charter a small trawler. I have no applicable experience other than with a small inboard/outboard ski boat that I bought 40 years ago. Do I have to buy a boat before I can even learn how to run it? There appear to be numerous "captains" available for a fee to teach me how to operate the boat. I expect to have costs, but it seems a bit expensive to FIRST BUY then LEARN. I guess my basic question is how do you get started in this "boating thing".

This is my introduction -- this is my howdy to everyone. I will enjoy reading the post and hope to obtain some commentary re my desire for Southern CA coastal boating. The most attractive boat to me seems to be the trailerable trawler, single diesel powered, and outfitted for a comfortable 2 to 7 day cruise. BUT, do I have to buy one to try one? Thanks in advance. ADS
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Old 08-30-2015, 02:43 AM   #2
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You can charter a boat and rent a captain for a few days to teach you the boat and the area. You drop the captain off when they feel you have some level of proficiency for the boat and environment.

If there are no problems you can then, probably, charter from that and others without the captain.
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Old 08-30-2015, 06:51 AM   #3
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Call the various charter companies, most have some sort of on the water training courses.
Take the USCG and Power Squadron safety and navigation classes first and get those certificates. The charter companies want your business, they will walk you through the best ways to qualify. I don't know what is available in your area, but Club Nautique up in the Bay Area has outstanding sail and power courses, in-class and on the water. Maybe the best money I ever spent in boating.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:18 AM   #4
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Welcome aboard. You are asking all the right questions, and have obviously thought things through well. I agree with all the above replies to your question.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:54 AM   #5
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Welcome aboard, and no. No need (or reason) to make the purchase until you've got some underway time under your belt. As everyone else has said, charter companies are a great resource, as is this forum. Maybe find someone knowledgeable in your area, or in your case, in the nearest port, help out with the fuel cost/refreshments (for afterward of course), and hitch a ride with them. Learn from those who do it regularly.

Also, by chartering, you can "try on" various vessels until you find one that's the "right fit." While what you describe might be the right one for you, you really won't know until you've tried it on for a few days. Better to spend your hard earned coin figuring it out ahead of time IMHO.

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Old 08-30-2015, 09:54 AM   #6
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You can enroll in a boating safety course to learn the "book" knowledge basics. Quite a few states require attending a course before operating a boat anyway. You probably don't want to pay on-the-water training time price to obtain this basic knowledge from a paid capt. Look up nearby Boat Rentals for their $99 special to get some water experience and gell some of that book knowledge. After that, you may just want to buy a small boat to continue on your own or book a short captained charter to learn from a pro. The bottom line for training is you want to UNDERSTAND what and why you are doing something.
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Old 08-30-2015, 10:09 AM   #7
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Welcome ADS,

When we first started in the trawler world we took a 3 day class from AYC Charters in Anacortes. The purpose was to get people cleared to charter a boat. We went around the San Juan Islands doing navigation, anchoring, mooring buoy's, MOB, planning and LOTS of docking practice. It was perfect for us. We had been doing a ton of reading beforehand and this class took us to the next level of confidence and ability. We were cleared to charter but we already had purchased a boat so never ended up chartering.

Ask the charter companies in your area or get in touch with them in the PNW and explore some great country up here.
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Old 08-30-2015, 10:18 AM   #8
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If you are already thinking/talking trawler...you are one of the new age boaters that doesnt have a lifetime of messing around in small boats first....at least that's my quick impression. Jumping from a lake ski boat to mid sized boat cruising can be done...but it is the few that do it successfully.

The nice thing about cruising a decent sized trawler....is that cruising is only about 5 to 10 percent boat handling. The rest is navigation, trip planning, weather, provisioning, marlinspike, maintenance.....etc. A lot of that IS book learning if you learn that way...and reinforcing much of it isn't necessarily on the water learning either.

So start with all of that. When you do go aboard...and the captain sees that you understand the weather, can tie properly to a cleat and coil a line, know what basic engine checks to do before starting up, etc....he can and probably will shift into higher gear and concentrate on just what you need versus scatter gunning knowledge and wondering what really is sinking in.
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Old 08-30-2015, 10:32 AM   #9
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It may seem more expensive to take on the water instruction but in the process you will learn much about different types of boats. Deciding what you want is important unless you want to find out later that you bought the wrong boat for you. In the end learning from charter teaching companies will probably turn out to cost less that all the mistakes possible without experience.
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Old 08-30-2015, 10:47 AM   #10
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Greetings,
Mr. ADS. Welcome aboard. Qualified?

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Old 08-30-2015, 11:07 AM   #11
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There are lots of bare boat charter certification courses out there. Search "bare boat charter certification" to find a course in your area or in an area you would like to visit for a vacation. Most of the courses seem to be aimed toward sailing, but if you can handle a cruising sailboat, handling a trawler style boat will be a cinch. Most of the courses run 3-5 days and will give you a bare boat charter certification at the end. Once you have that you are off and running.
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Old 08-30-2015, 01:15 PM   #12
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Psneeld made a comment that hits home for me ",... A lot of that IS book learning if you learn that way..."

While I can certainly comprehend what I read, i actually "learn" much better "hands on." I've been this way all my life.

One of my businesses specialized in air boat and powerboat training. I find students from time to time, that have difficulty grasping concepts, and passing written test. Give those same people the test verbally, and they'll ace it! Put them on the helm, or on the stick in the case of an airboat, and they'll operate like they were born there! :-)

Just the same, as he also said, it's still something that if you can do it, would be considerably more cost effective to learn in a classroom setting.

Combining training and vacationing sounds like an outstanding idea. A friend of mine and his wife did 7 days U/W on a catamaran sailing charter. Learned a ton and had a great vacation.

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Old 08-31-2015, 03:10 PM   #13
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Thank for the many suggestions that have been generated from my initial query. I am encouraged to proceed especially since a great deal of my future training will deal with boat navagation, maintenance, planning and weather. I have spent my last 30 years instrument flying a high proformance airplane. Now I must transition from flying to boating.
I have now made contact with the Coastguard Aux in Ventura and will be obtaining all of the training material and on-line training that Google has uncovered for me. The best opportunity for a fast transition, after I have done my "book learning" will be the courses conducted by Club Natique in the SF Bay area which I have made contact with. Unfortunately for me, their initial training classes are currently booked up until late November. I can now best plan to defer getting on the water until next spring.
Everyone's suggestions have been most helpful. Thank You All. ADS
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Old 08-31-2015, 03:13 PM   #14
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I looked over their Web site. They can offer a beautiful vacation! Thanks for the tip. ADS
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Old 08-31-2015, 03:17 PM   #15
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I hope my flying experience will facilitate my transition and that I can successfully manage all the elements of boating. ADS
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Old 08-31-2015, 03:22 PM   #16
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A lot of flying will translate to boating-planning, wind, currents, thinking ahead, having a "plan b" and and running out of fuel is usually much less traumatic on a boat.

While some things can happen quickly on a boat they usually happen slower than in an aircraft.
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Old 08-31-2015, 03:35 PM   #17
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While you're googling stuff, google "skippered charter". That's where you charter the boat but the owner is along to drive and often his wife is along to cook. If you tell him in advance that you want to do the charter to learn how to operate a trawler I'm sure he'll be glad to teach you.


I've done two charters, both bare boat, and I had to pass a "driver training course" before each charter. That was to convince the boat owner that I knew what I was doing and could safely command the boat.


Keith Olive (above) mentioned AYC charters in Anacortes. They're widely known in the PNW and have a great reputation. There are also lots of captains up in the PNW that could teach you about operating the boat. AYC could probably recommend one or two for you to pick from.


That would be a great way to learn about the hands on operation, but I'd also recommend an in-class boater safety course from one of the USCG Auxilliary or US Power Squadron schools.
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Old 08-31-2015, 04:11 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ADS View Post
I hope my flying experience will facilitate my transition and that I can successfully manage all the elements of boating. ADS
I think the overall management of resources learned from flying translate very well when operating a boat. Also just the mentality. Basically an airplane is a fairly comlplex and dynamic machine. So is a boat. When you first learned to fly, there were nerves and anxieties and just the overall feeling of being new at something. As you became more experienced, those feelings went away to be replaced be calm cool and collected. IOW, you don't rattle easily. And that alone is a very big thing!!!!!
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Old 08-31-2015, 05:36 PM   #19
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To pile onto Baker's comments....My father was a Instrument/DE rated private pilot when he was afflicted with his serious addiction to boats (I think it was genetic as I inherited the same traits). He taught me compass/dead reckoning skills in spite of the redundant LORAN's we had on board. He taught me to always keep an ear out for the VHF for any alerts, to regularly switch to the weather frequency for currency on any developing storms, to develop a standard instrument/gauge, compass, navigation display, forward view, rearward view and general vessel lookover pattern that I still use and will continue to use. I also perform checks on all essential systems before leaving the dock. All these things were drilled into him by his father, also a pilot, and his instructors and he carried them over into running of boats. IMO your piloting experience will definitely give you a great headstart on many aspects of boating and will likely make you a better captain too.

In fact he and I have both benefited from his IFR training on many occasions...one being a run of over 120 mi at night in a tropical depression, about 1/3 of that in 10+ ft short period seas, navigating by RADAR/LORAN, through about 100 miles of Louisiana oil and gas platforms/buoys/workboat traffic with no forward vision beyond the bowsprit. The workflow patterns he learned from aviation was invaluable onboard.
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Old 08-31-2015, 06:52 PM   #20
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Are you guys talking fixed wing?

I thought you just climbed over the weather and readjusted your Raybans.

Discipline wherever it was taught to you is the big ingredient..but I will say aviation does breed staying on your toes if you are a half way decent pilot.
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