Pilotage Trip Verification

Today I received an email from the USCG that contained the “Trip Verification for First Class Pilot License” after requesting information on how to document transits.

After reviewing the document, I noticed that on the verification for each transit there is a a line for the Master of the vessel to sign off as well as a line for the Pilot’s Name. When we make transits, we do not have pilots onboard. Is it required to have a Pilot sign this document or is that pushed to the wayside in this instance?

I work out of Fourchon and the only time I have ever encountered a Pilot was when we went to Tampa.

My end goal, I would like to end up eventually having Pilotage in my home state of Florida but as of now, I do not transit any pass in the State of Florida on a commercial vessel. I am at this point just trying to get the First Class Pilot on my license.

If anyone has any advice on how to make the path to Pilot more efficient and speed bumps to avoid, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone has input on the Florida Pilot association, that is appreciated as well! I sent them an email and read their website as to what their requirements are. Seems like a pretty fair system, whoever tests and scores the highest gets the chance at acceptance.

Thanks all!

Also, I am currently studying to go for my Master Unlimited finally. I decided that I may as well do it even if I never work on it. Steady progression keeps me alive!

You don’t need the pilot’s signature, just the Master. If you are the Master, you can sign for yourself.

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Well, that is easy enough! Thanks for the information!

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Looking at these, am I correct to assume that I would only take the portions of the test that I have not already satisfied when I took my exams up to the license that I currently hold? I have a 2nd Unlimited and 1,600 Master

No idea. I think the exam will be pretty easy and nothing to worry about, except for the chart sketch. Actually, the chart sketches are just practice and memorization.

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Ok, I am going to do all I can to ensure I am prepared. Again, thanks!

Hop in a skiff, run around a couple of times, sign your own stuff and you’re good to go.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but won’t that 1st Class Pilot be limited to Fourchon? Pretty sure Florida Pilots are going to be looking for pilotage in the waters they work… which will require the same number of transits and testing on those waters before you qualify unless they take you on as a deputy pilot to get your transits, etc.

Yeah, that is correct. From my understanding, once you hold the First Class Pilot, upgrading your area is a little easier than the initial FCP that you apply for. This is just what I read online so take it for what it is worth. Also, the Florida Pilot Association says FCP is a prerequisite then I would need to be licensed by the state as well. I am not sure if the routes for First Class Pilot and the State Pilot are required to be the same or if they are simply satisfied with the fact that you have been vetted as a Pilot? These are all questions I am pretty much unsure of since I have never met an actual Pilot and reading about it is kind of back and forth.

I am hoping that I can find a way to get my transits in Florida. I was debating on whether the Pilot Association would be willing to do basically what you were referring to or if I could get on with a company that works in those areas on my off time to get the transits. Either way, it would be worth it if you could ever get a spot! I think it is a doable, just something I will have to work at.

The other thing I am concerned with is the “buy in” to the associations. I have heard that you can be looking at upwards of $250k just to get in? I have never seen it anywhere official and I asked the association about this, among my other questions, but have not received a reply as of yet.

Hahaha be the master of my own 12 foot skiff! Ill have to work up the tonnage… should be somewhere around 0.1 lol

The route to being a state licensed Florida pilot require you to test with the state. The test is akin to a bar exam for mariners and includes a chart tracing on top of a devilishly difficult rules exam and local knowledge. I’ve heard he estimate is 1000+ hours of study time is necessary to be close to the score necessary to compete. Most people I know who have done it have take. The test at least three times.

It can’t hurt to learn the port you are interested but holding a first class pilot endorsement will not give you any advantage with the state. It’s all about the test. They typically post the upcoming ports needing pilots around now and test in early march.

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I had read on their site under the qualifications that they require you to hold the 2nd mate, 1600 master, and FCP. I assumed I needed it no matter what so I started the process…

I did not know what was on the State test but I was aware that they did administer one. From what I understand, when there is an opening for the Pilot Association, the State did the hiring in leu of the Association doing it to keep it Equal Opportunity?

1,000 hours of Rules of the Road very well could melt my brain… I think the sketch wouldn’t be overly difficult as long as it was not something crazy. I have been wrong before though. I did come across a school that did a sort of prep for the Pilot Exam, I will assume that it only covers the ROR and some of the legal portion since the Local Knowledge would be different location to location.

Let me put it this way… the Master of the training ship at A&M when I was there, took (as I recall) about 3 years of testing and studying to finally get a score that ranked him high enough for an interview for Lauderdale… he already had the pilotage for the channel, Master Unlimited, etc. and he still didn’t get accepted for another couple years.

I hate to break it to you, but that FCP for Fourchon… that’s not going to do you any good for your application in Florida. Though I’m sure the Harbor Police in Fourchon might pick you up to pilot in the few foreign commercial ships that come in, like the Dongbang Giant.

As for the buy in, once you’re accepted, they basically will sign you off and set you up with a bank they have an agreement with for a loan to pay it.

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You are on the right track. Start by getting your first Federal pilotage endorsement for Fouchon. Fouchon should be fairly easy because it’s a short route with few aids to navigation and in dredged channels.

Federal pilotage varies from OCMI to OCMI. I think most require 20 trips for the first pilotage route, and then 12 trips there after. Some OCMIs will accept trips on 100 ton vessels, but you’ll probably get a small tonnage limit on your endorsement for that route. Other OCMIs will not accept any trips on vessels less than 1600 tons. Combined tug and barge tonnage counts, but your pilotage might (not likely, but might) be limited to tug and barge.

Generally, you have to get a certain percentage of your trips at night, or your endorsement may be limited to daylight only. Some places require a certain percentage of the trips be in ice, or your pilotage ma bye limited to certain times of year. I have never heard of requiring trips in fog, but some OCMI might.

State pilotage requirements are generally much much more difficult. Some places require hundreds of trips. I suspect that no trips will count for state pilotage until you are formally accepted as an apprentice pilot.

Also, there are tricks to doing the chart sketches. There are people, and possibly some schools, that teach how to do the chart sketches.

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Yeah… My dream job, bringing in the Dongbang Giant lol

Well, I have to start somewhere. I did not assume that the FCP for Fourchon would be an acceptance letter to the Florida Pilot Association. From what I read in the CFR, if I have FCP for an area, then transferring that to another area was simple “ish” as far as not having to totally test again but to only do the chart and local knowledge.

As of right now, I am not sure how I could go about getting the transits in and out unless there is a company that I could get with in my off time where I could knock them out. Do companies do things like this? I wonder if I got on with some small boat company in Jax or Tampa if they would let me get my transits signed off over that way, then I could skip the Fourchon portion altogether.

I am quite content with the process of everything taking several years, I am still in my 20s and I have plenty to learn. I worked up to where I am at from the deck, which I have also wondered if that may be a hinderance as I have heard most Pilots are Academy Grads. I am not sure if it is because more Academy guys make it to the upper level licenses and have the connections where as most Hawsepipe guys stick with limited licenses?

If I have a shot at it, I would like to take it. If I get the licensing done and do not get selected… it is not a world ender. I will still be able to continue to do the things that I do now. I have no doubt that it is a difficult path, if it were easy, everyone would be a pilot.

I appreciate the information that you are providing!!

I appreciate it!

I think my next step will be getting in touch with an OCMI a couple of the areas I am interested in to see what they require. The CFR does state the OCMI basically sets the requirements up to a certain maximum from what I was reading today.

Thank you again!

I have also just realized that I live very close to the St. Andrews Bay Harbor Pilots Association. When I get home I may swing by to try to get some more advice from those guys considering they are just a few minutes from house.

Again, I greatly appreciate all of the information and experience that you guys have given.

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You realize you actually have to draw the whole chart from memory, right? You start with the shoreline (and I think lat and long), that’s it. Channels, soundings, navigational aids, etc all have to be precisely drawn in by memory.


@Capt_Phoenix I do know that the chart sketch requires that. As much as I have ran the area, done chart updates here, etc I think I could get through it if I really sit down and apply the effort required. I would surely have to get down the exact locations of the items on the chart. I already have a really good apprx location of them when I was going over it a few days ago. I think with some time applied and the limited Nav aids here, I could do it.

Now, when it comes to the other ports, I will have to spend much more time! I am willing to put in the effort for the reward. I worked up from the deck to where I am currently with self studying and learning (2nd Mate and 1600 Master). I believe I have the mental capacity to get the knowledge down. In the end, if I ever obtain the level that I want, it would be 100% worth it. Also, I am still in my 20s so I theoretically have plenty of time to study.

I honestly think the most difficult part would be writing a Light List for the chart drawn. I have looked in the CFRs for the required examinations and I am not 100% what I will be required to take. I am not sure if some of the exams were satisfied by the examinations that were already administered for the license that I have now. I think I posted a photo of the things I was unsure of in the beginning of the thread.

When we get back to port, I am going to try to get in touch with an OCMI to see what all information I can get.

You’re right, difficulty depends on the area. Light list wasn’t required for Puget Sound charts, but the SE Alaska routes I’m doing, it is required. So is a route description of course. Check with the guy who does the pilotage at the REC and see what he/she expects from the sketch/route description. Always be on their good side. Establish a good relationship with them, especially, if you plan to do more than one chart.