My time as master is very short and most of it was in shipyard yet sometimes I put Captain on things and someone from the peanut gallery always writes to bust my chops and claim I can’t use the title.
I can say definitively that the entire thing is a loosing battle. Even if you have decades of seatime someone will say the ships wasn’t large enough, didn’t carry enough crew, didn’t sail into enough ports… the unofficial “requirements” to use the title are different for everyone.
I once went to interview a salty old pilot who was very experienced and knowledgable. Usually I jsut call Captain’s by their first name but this guy I really respected so I called him Captain and he said “Call me Jim, the only people who I make call me Captain are lawyers and government pricks.” I think this is a good general policy for informal communication. I do a bunch of consulting with the Navy and found everything goes smoother with the title. Same thing in court. But if I’m just having beers with a Navy guy or lawyer it’s always just John.
Mostly where I get in trouble is when my name is published by a major publication like the New York Times or with my book. They have a style guide which sets out very specific guidelines on who is called what. The book I wrote myself so I got final say but it was a bit of a fight. Most (not all) top reporters for publications like the New York Times calls they have a lot of background check. I don’t tell them what to call me… they tell me what I will be called and most of the time it includes the title. That’s their rules not mine.
We try to use the same guidelines for gCaptain so I usually try to include it (especially, considering the pilots advice, when it’s about the government)… but often I don’t simply because I prefer not to.
But I haven’t answered your question… what about shoreside. The truth is I never asked to be called captain by someone in the industry… but most shoreside people include the title when they call. I could ask to be called just “john” but I find it’s a loosing battle… and sometimes it turns into a long argument with them saying I earned the title and should use it proudly… so now they can call me whaterver they want… I’m not going to complain.
Outside of journalism industry titles are legally (i.e. if theycan be used in court) governed by the leading professional organization in your country. For me that’s the Council of American Master mariners. Within that council I do not have enough seatime to be a full member but regardless of membership the title “Captain” is still printed on everything they send me due to their internal policy. So that’s what give me the right to use it shoreside.
The bottom line - in my humble opinion - is that the title designates both acknowledgement of your accomplishment in obtaining the license and the respect you have earned in the industry and has little to do with your seatime. I believe that Captain is something that other people call you if you have earned the license and their respect… and is not something you should call yourself (outside dealings with uncle sam).
P.S. The corollary to that question is total BS… the use of the term “Master Mariner”. Some people have the idea that you need both a Chief Engineer and Master Unlimited to use that title. Bullshit… anyone who’s read Moby Dick can tell you the term Master Mariner was in use well before the engine was invented. In fact, some countries reserve the title “Master Mariner” to those who have a Captain’s license but have not earned the right to call themselves captain. So it’s basically a step down from Captain… not a step up as many claim it to be.
So, in certain countries a newspaper will call me John Konrad, Master Mariner… in the print then call a pilot who’s quoted in the same article - but has decades of experience I don’t have - Captain John Doe.
Again… these are rules of the english language and we don’t get to make up the rules just because we work in the industry and something bothers us… English professors at places like Harvard are the ones who hold that right.