Unfair USCG question

One of the questions on the pilot’s exam for Houston was “what is the height of the highest hi line at Baytown?”.

What? In case I want to hop over it with a tanker?


Question like that on a license test does not make much sense to me. May have predicted current available one way or another somewhere. However actual current 50 miles down river from Chester Pa may be considerably different than published sources. Big river like the Delaware current speed and tide height will vary depending on fresh water run off from upriver. Shallower water wind will alter predictions.

It’s prudent to consult sources, observation best way to find out what’s actually happening. Why would they put such a question on the test.

Good thing there’s no more local knowledge test.

Hi Colin.

No. The exam mentioned nothing of the area - there were no charts for the exam, so basically I had to “devine” where on earth the light was. As I said, any pages that may have given me the slightest clue were NOT included in the Tide Reprints, either for heights or currents. That is why I found it an unreasonable question.

It’s a fact of life that exams of many types are necessary in our society and that they are all imperfect, and sometimes out of date and of marginal utility.

Most mariners taking USCG exams will occasionally flunk a module that they probably should have passed. It happens. No big deal. Study harder and better luck next time. Virtually everyone passes eventually, including a few that should have been screened out by the exams.

As noted earlier, I believe the question was developed by using the 1983 Tidal Current exam room reference.

Using page 214 of the Tidal Current book there is a Delaware Bay and River explanation and example of Current Diagram question.

On page 215 there is a graph on the left hand side of the page which list various locations along the river.

I believe this graph can resolve the problem presented in this thread.

Yes - you are correct, it does.
Lapware has the question and solution.

My point is, how is the examinee supposed to find where the Fourteen Foot Bank Light is located, when all the reference pages to it and Chester PA are removed from the Tide Table Reprint book?
Scroll through every Current diagram in the hope of finding it in one of them? If I had done so I would have found it indeed - but surely the point is to see if a mariner can use reference materials correctly in order to navigate any port that is unknown to them, in which case the references would be included in the material.

It’d be in the Light List. If I’m not mistaken that pub is in the exam room.

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Yes, of course a LIGHT will be in the light list, and the light list is in the exam room.

I vaguely remember that question. It took a little bit of effort, but wasn’t that difficult. I don’t know if I passed that question or not. I passed the exam and that is all I cared about.

That is the kind of question that might be worth memorizing from Lapware.

Same on the chart plot. If the question asks you to plot a course passing 1/4 mile north of East Overshoe Lt (and you have no idea where it is on the chart), then look it up in the light list to get the lat / long.

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USCG exams are out-of-date and out-of-touch with reality, and by no means guage your worth as a mariner.

So i wouldn’t sweat it. These tests are nothing more than a hoop to junp through.


You’d have to roughly know where Pennsylvania is, which I think is a fair ask for a perspective navigator. Find the current diagram that has Pennsylvania on it and go from there, there is only one.

Not 100% but I’ve heard it’s roughly somewhere south of NY, but north of “the south”.

Don’t sweat it OP, they have a few dumb questions in there. Deck Safety and Deck Gen all pretend you’re a Mariner in the ‘50s. Navigation has stuff you will never do in real life but it’s what makes you a “real navigator” rather than some guy looking at the GPS. Once you pass, maybe someday you can volunteer to be on the Exam Working Committee and get it updated.


Based on the discussion in the tread. I would recommend that the USCG place the Delaware diagram in the NavProblems Illustrations Book.

As a mariner when encountering the test questions referring to this type calculation I recommend completing a comment sheet repeating my request.

Those mariners that have the opportunity to be part of the USCG review of testing I ask you to consider my recommendation.

Sounds unreasonable, all right.