What is a paper captain?


I hold a 100 ton Masters and drive a small tour boat on the Great Lakes. One of the deck hands has recently gotten his also. When I told him we are not captains we are tour guides that drive boats, he was offended. I do not feel right about giving myself the same title as someone who is in charge of a freighter going from Hong Kong to Greece or someone who has command of a warship. Quite frankly I think the 100 ton is somewhat of a sham. Think about it, if you have a little sea time and a pulse your in. On the positive, at least we have all read the Colregs, at least once.


There are ranks within the fire service above and below Captain, i.e., Lieutenant (below) and Battalion Chief (above).

There are a good number of entities that utilize the rank of captain within their organization. It usually means they are in charge or command of something. This is far different than a Paper Captain.


Commanding Officer of a navy ship is addressed as, and referred to as, Captain, regardless of actual rank.

Captain in the Army, Marines or Air Force is an O-3, same as a Navy or USCG Lieutenant.

Captain in the Navy or USCG is an O-6, same as a full Colonel in Army, Marines, or Air Force.

Can be confusing on the phone.


I have a brother in law who was a USMC Captain in Iraq. He traded on that confusion to get rapid service from the Navy when he needed a helicopter to carry him somewhere.


Here is a guy who might not be a captain of any kind soon: (account from a passenger)

Yesterday, I was passenger on a 34’ fishing charter out the eastern shore MD below the bridge. We had fished all morning and by noon we headed in. It was brand new dead rise boat, first trip out. 6 passengers plus the Captain.

We were underway for about 10 minutes, and I estimate our speed was around 30 knots.

Visibility was unlimited.

Most of the passengers were hanging out enjoying the ride, and no one was really paying attention the situation on the water.

I was on a port side bench seat, looking toward the stern. Suddenly, a guy yells “WATCH OUT!!!”. I spun around to look forward and all I saw was white sail through the windshield.
Then impact. We t-boned a 30’ sailboat with 2 guys in the cockpit. We were thrown to the deck. Now we are on top of the sailboat as you can see by the picture below.

Our captain was kind of dazed, so being an experienced boater, I first told everyone to grab a life vest. We did a head count and injury check and nothing serious beyond cuts, scrapes, and bruises. I could not tell what was happening on the sail boat. Anyway, I turned on the marine radio and Mayday’ed. CG answers and I give GPS coordinates. The guys in the sailboat are shaken up but ok (everyone was shaken up but no panic).

So now we are sitting up on top of the sail boat, with our stern precariously close to being swamped. I found the bilge pump switch and turned it on to “auto” but it did not appear to be working. Switch to manual mode and it started pumping water overboard. The switch set up required that you hold the switch down for the pump to work.

Now I’m at the helm holding this fricking switch down, dangerously close to swamping, and I’m thinking if we swamp, I’m gonna be trapped in the cockpit with no way out. It was kind of dicey at that point.

CG arrives about 15 minutes later and transfers the sail boaters to another boat, then they start to transfer the 6 passengers from the charter to another boat. I have to admit that the CG did an awesome job. Once we were all safely transferred, the CG actually went back to the charter boat and retrieved our coolers!!

DNR, Marine Police, Fire Boats, Tow Boats, we had 'em all.

I was kind of surprised that only 1 boater offered assistance.

So, as far as I know, no serious injuries, but we were so lucky in that respect. It could have been a whole lot worse.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how this happened. Broad daylight, Captain was not drinking, etc. One guy said that he thought the sail boat changed tack.

I guess my big lesson is this: Stay far away from all other boats because you don’t know what they might do.

Sharing this story reluctantly since the Captain is a good guy, but it’s all over the news anyway. As a Captain of your vessel, be alert at all times. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are too close to other boats. As a passenger, be a second set of eyes for the Captain. Give wide berth to other vessels.

Stuff happens fast.

I have this anxiety right now about boating, but I’m gonna go down to my 27’ Sun Dancer and do some maintenance work. I’m sure I’ll get over it but I’ll not forget yesterday.[\quote]


Only yachties count miles. Thanks MCA for the silly pseudo license scam that has toyboat mariners counting. mileage.


Well a 3,000 mile round trip to Europe from the USA gets you more cred with “yachties” than sitting in the marina drinking for a few weeks, so maybe that is where the mileage thing comes from.


Not round trip - can’t make editor work.
Yeah - from a commercial pilot viewpoint, the lower levels of licensing seems really bizarre, like you too could be a commercial pilot if you get a lot of frequent flyer miles and pass a multiple choice test LOL


Looks like that is that the source of your last two posts.




I wish!


Nautical miles or statute miles?


Furlongs per fortnight


TBF in 2018 you’d be at least on par with a USN destroyer or submarine captain.