Which Captain’s License should I obtain is a question that we often hear. The staff at Mariners Learning System recommends that you seek the highest-level license that you can qualify for. There are a couple of options depending on your citizenship status and boating experience.
The two main captain’s licenses issued by the Coast Guard are the Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels also know as the Six-pack or Charter Boat Captain’s License and the 25/50/100 Ton Master License.
The Six-Pack Captain’s License allows the holder to carry up to six paying passengers plus crew on uninspected vessels up to 100 gross tons – hence the term “Six-Pack.” These are usually recreational vessels that normally engage in charter fishing, SCUBA diving, or tour cruises.
The 25/50 or 100 Ton Master License allows the holder to operate inspected vessels as well as uninspected vessels. Any vessel that is authorized to carry more than 6 paying passengers must have on board a Captain who holds a Master license.
Ferryboats, harbor tours boats, whale watching and water taxis are examples of inspected vessels.
There are two additional endorsements that can be added to your license:
The Towing Endorsement may be issued to those who hold a Six-pack or Master License and would like to engage in assisting vessels for a fee. To “commercially assist” other vessels that may be aground, disabled or out of fuel, or experiencing some other malfunction requires an endorsement for Commercial Assistance Towing.
Licensed Master or mates may also be endorsed for sail or auxiliary sail, as appropriate. This endorsement authorizes the holder to operate inspected sail or auxiliary sailing vessels within the scope and limitations of their license.
Whether you’re a sailor chasing the wind, a power boater in search of your next big fish or a cruiser looking for the perfect sunset earning your Captain’s License will open the door to new opportunities.