Seatime confusion

Hello all,

My wife and I sold everything three years ago, save the car and what could fit into it. We wanted to travel and work whatever jobs we could find along the way. We are originally from Arkansas. We spent 8 months in Puerto Rico in 2020, and I discovered the world of boating. We have moved a lot since then. Last winter, 2022, I met a captain who runs a marina in South Lake Tahoe. He told me that working as a dock hand, (piloting the skiff, mooring customers, and such) would get me “seatime”. Since then I have been crew on a 31’ parasailing boat, a 65’ sailboat, and a 63’ yacht. But he is still asking me to work the dock when those boats aren’t going out. But one of the captains informed me that dock work isn’t really seatime. I found this industry a little late (I’m 33) but I would really like to pursue my captains license. My wife and I are planning on moving to ft. Lauderdale so I can go to yachting school there. But I can’t get a straight answer from anyone. Is there a resource that outlines the exact specifications for what I need? I’m starting to feel like they just want me on the dock because they are short staffed and I’m a hard worker. Am I getting screwed only crewing two-three days a week?
Apologies for me greenness, I just don’t want to waste a season being lied to.

The checklists on the NMC web site (Checklist NMC) will tell you exactly what you need for any license. And no, dock time is not sea time.

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Depending on how green you are, working the dock won’t give you creditable seatime for license, but will give the knowledge and experience you need. If you want to move to Fort Lauderdale anyway, just do it and get a job as a deckhand down there.

Thank you. I had a suspicion I was being lied to.

Thanks for the response. I’m very confident in the marina and on smaller boats, knots and lines and such, but I was told by my manger it would be going towards seatime. So yeah, I’m going to have a talk with him tomorrow. Thanks again

Also note that being on Lake Tahoe is an Inland Waterway. So you will need time outside the Line of Demarcation for coastal… In Ft. Laud, MPT is a good school. They know the requirements and can advise the best wat to go.
Good Luck

Sorry to hear that your employer lied to you, but I think you were being both naive and hopeful. Would you expect that time working at a small airfield refueling small aircraft and securing the tie-downs would count towards a pilot’s license?

As suggested already, take the experience you have already, move wherever you like to get more experience, attend a school if so desired, and follow your dreams. The checklist that Robert linked to will tell you what you need to get started.

Best wishes to you and your wife.


Hold on, now. Your employer may not have actually lied. There are some nuances. Your time “piloting the skiff” can certainly count. So it really comes down to how your employer writes your sea service letter.

Very true, to the OP, I’d suggest trying to figure out what exactly is you want to do in this huge industry, and go from there. A captain’s license can really mean a lot of different things…

Do you spend 4 hours a day piloting the skiff? That’s all you need for a day is sea time.

No, dock time does not count. Has to be underway time, 6 hours minimum unless you work a double on certain waters then it’s a day and a half credit. Go to the NMC site and all of the requirements are listed under the forms section fir all licensed/endorsements.

actually the minimum is 4 hours.

Only on vessels less than 100 GRT and only if “the Coast Guard determines that the vessel’s operating schedule makes [ an 8-hour day] inappropriate.” See 46 CFR 10.232(h)(3).

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Ok whatever… my point was dock time doesn’t count.

Under certain circumstances, it does count. See e.g. paragraph 4.d of CG-MMC Policy Letter 03-18.

This whole discussion reminds me of sailing early in my career. An old hand at the (union) hall told me if I ever get a job as Day 3rd make sure my discharge just says 3rd Engineer. Refuse to sign it if it says Day 3rd Engineer. It was advise well taken. I did at some point sail as Day 3rd (on a steamship) and the issue came up at sign-off. I refused to sign the discharge until the Shipping Commissioner (Yes, it was that long ago) either made out a new discharge or crossed out and initialed “Day”.

As a side note, I found while sailing on motorships where everyone is pretty much a dayworker (on unattended engine rooms) the issue never came up.