Another upgrade question thread

Hey chaps. I’m finally going to take the plunge and begin the process to upgrade from my 200grt Master NC to 500grt Master. I’ve read numerous threads on past ways to help study for the exams but are there any new materials or advice I can ask for in order to better prepare myself? I plan on purchasing Captain joes exam prep material in order to get on the ball right away. Thanks in advance.

If you have internet access Lapware is by far the best. I used that when in port and Capt. Joes when Offshore. Lapware continuously updates with new questions and solutions.

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Did the exact same. Worked really well. I also through in the upgrade U app on my phone for ROR while on the shitter or laying in the rack.

By the time I learned about upgrade U I was already finished with testing. I know some people that used it and really enjoyed it.

Between those 3 programs I don’t see how anyone can not succeed. Coast guard testing is strictly how much time to you put into the material you are learning.

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Thanks. I’m happy to see that the material is still relevant. With lap ware, does it require anything higher than 20-30kbs ? Internet on board makes dial up look fast.

It will work. it will just take a very very long time to load certain parts of it.

For those with experience with Capt. Joe, will the program provide easy to understand means to interpret formulas for the terrestrial/ celestial side of things ? l don’t claim to be a wiz kid, but does his program eliminate the need for hands-on instruction?

I found that lapware had better solution for most problems but I did use captain joes solutions on other types of problems more. I can’t remember exactly which ones. Between these solutions and bowditch I was able to teach myself everything without any additional classes or hands on training.


Good to hear. As an afterthought, my only focus right now is to achieve receiving my National 500GRT Master. I currently hold STCW for my 200, but do the bigger companies require personnel to have STCW even if I’m sailing near coastal?

You cannot legally go outside the COLREGS demarcation line without it.

That’s the right approach for most people. Get the national near coastal license first, and then worry about celestial and STCW later.

For most mariners, the lack of job opportunities for the foreseeable future at the 500 ton level do not justify spending $50,000 out of pocket (with hotels, meals, and travel) and months of your time taking all the STCW classes.

A few boat companies and some insurance companies prefer to see a 500 ton license for a 199 ton job. So, it probably makes sense to get the 500 ton national near coastal license. Most of those same companies think that STCW just means taking the BT class and maybe Adv. Firefighting. It’s worth it to take those.

My experience is that most boat companies do not know what requires an Oceans license and what doesn’t. An Oceans license is definitely an advantage, and some companies prefer it, even if they don’t need it. However, there is very limited demand in the job market for a limited tonnage Oceans license.

Most companies don’t think they need an Oceans license, even when they clearly do, such as a trip from the West Coast through the Panama Canal to the East Coast. That requires an Oceans license. However, lots of mariners have made that trip on just a near coastal license. Even when they know an Oceans license is required, a lot of companies are willing to overlook it for at least some of the officers.

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I’m pretty sure you can go outside of the demarcation line without it…but most companies want it. I personally have worked for companies in the past where we sailed on a domestic voyage and a few of the mates did not have OICNW.

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STCW apples to all commercial vessels outside the boundary line, but the USCG exempts vessels on domestic voyages under 200 GRT.

On what size boat?


OICNW is required on vessels over a certain size (I recall 300 GRT or 500 GT) outside the colregs boundary line.

A lot of small companies either don’t know the rules, or often ignore. There is no enforcement unless an incident happens. The companies get away with ignoring the rules all the time.

For example, I occasionally do trip work for a good small tugboat company. They have good captains, but nobody with an Oceans license. Last year, I called looking for work. They said “don’t have anything right now”. In the course of conversation it came out that they were about to do a trip through the Panama Canal. I said, “oh, who’s going to do that.” They told me. I said, “I didn’t know he had a Oceans license.” They said, “he doesn’t, we don’t need Oceans for Panama, coastwise is all that’s required; the boat doesn’t need to go over 200 miles offshore.” They didn’t want to hear otherwise. The guy with the coastwise license made the trip without incident.

From 46 CFR 11.301:
(h) Notwithstanding §11.901 of this part, each mariner found qualified to hold any of the following national officer endorsements will also be entitled to hold an STCW endorsement corresponding to the service or other limitations of the license or officer endorsements on the MMC. The vessels concerned are not subject to further obligation under STCW because of their special operating conditions as small vessels engaged in domestic, near-coastal voyages.
(1) Masters, mates, or engineers endorsed for service on small passenger vessels that are subject to subchapter T or K of this chapter and that operate beyond the boundary line.
(2) Masters, mates, or engineers endorsed for service on seagoing vessels of less than 200 GRT, other than passenger vessels subject to subchapter H of this chapter.
(i) Mariners serving on, and owners or operators of any of the following vessels, do not need to hold an STCW endorsement, because they are exempt from application of STCW:
(1) Fishing vessels as defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101(11)(a).
(2) Fishing vessels used as fish-tender vessels as defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101(11)©.
(3) Barges as defined in 46 U.S.C. 102, including non-self-propelled mobile offshore drilling units.
(4) Vessels operating exclusively on the Great Lakes or on the inland waters of the United States in the Straits of Juan de Fuca or on the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer.
(j) Mariners serving on, and owners or operators of uninspected passenger vessels as defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101(42)(B), do not need to hold an STCW endorsement. The vessels concerned are not subject to further obligation under STCW because of their special operating conditions as small vessels engaged in domestic, near-coastal voyages.


Ok, it’s 200 GRT.

I assume somewhere in the manual there is a policy that equates 200 GRT to 500 GT for vessels only measured in GT.

That is where it gets confusing to me. USCG only will endorse your license for ITC GT if you have STCW (afaik). Therefore I’m not sure they would accept your 200 GRT national license on a 500 GT vessel.

Ah, I stand corrected. I was on a vessel below 200 GRT, makes more sense now. Now I’m on ATBs 465GRT and everyone has it. Thanks for clearing that up.

That’s some good info, thanks. I currently hold :

200grt Master / 500gt Master NC
Radar unlimited
AB unlimited
PSC / Lifeboatman
Leadership and Management

And several other little tidbits that the USCG find irrelevant. The sea time I’ve acquired spans back to 2010 from running GOM workboats less than 100grt.
So, with all that said, in order for me to legally operate a vessel over 200grt on near coastal voyages, I’m required to have STCW for the upgrade to 500grt? My point in asking was to know whether or not I can put the 500 upgrade to use right away ( if a door opens ) or would I need to fork out $$ for celestial and MCP prior.

On a side note, does anyone know why the checklist states that the Mariner “MAY” be exempted from further testing to upgrade to 1600grt on sea time alone?

To get a less than 500 GT endorsement (II/3) you need to do special training not required for a 200 GRT domestic license.