April 23, 2020

You Are The Unsung Heroes of the American Coast

Call it the "Micro-Fleet". The boats may be small, but the job, the job we do, is big.

If you run a “small craft”. If you have a Merchant Mariner Credential that reads: OUPV six-pack, or Master 25, 50 or 100 ton, license or bigger, then you are one of the Unsung Heroes of the American Coast. You may not realize it, but you are. And, it is important for you to understand that you are. You are part of a group of men and women that make up the largest populous of professional mariners in the nation. We move the most vessels through our waterways. We carry the most passengers, families, friends and what we can collectively call “innocent bystanders”. We likely have the largest public reach, particularly when it comes to safety and human life. I argue that we are the new merchant fleet. Call it the micro-fleet. But it is a fleet nonetheless. The boats may be small, but the job, the job we do, is big. Change my mind.

The US Merchant Fleet is now smaller, faster, busier than ever, and is largely (though not completely) comprised of <100GT boat Captains like us! It is a huge responsibility to be part of the micro-fleet. The small boat Captain is ofttimes overlooked because they did not come through a prestigious maritime academy or spend years in a formalized classroom setting. But, we do have “street smarts”. We do have a vast amount of experience and you know we have boat handling skills.  If a national emergency arrived on our shorelines tomorrow, we would be there.

The six-pack and 50-100 ton boat captains of America are in many cases the eyes and ears of the American Coast. Our large numbers and geographic reach often make us the first to see or hear of trouble on waterways. We are likely the first to see an act of terror arriving from the ocean and the first to lend a hand when we are needed in an emergency. In fact, when the USCG has exhausted its resources and still has not solved the problem they are faced with, who do they call? They call “All Available Boats”. That’s us. Do they rescue us when we need it? Yes, of course! Do we rescue them from time to time? Absolutely!

Over the years I have received many calls from folks that wanted a Captain’s license. I’ve worked with many great people, many of whom are reading this post. The vast majority of them were well-meaning yet unaware of their level of potential responsibility as a competent and professional mariner. They had their vision set on one objective. Maybe that objective was to run a charter fishing boat. Maybe it was to run a sailing tour boat. That list goes on and on. But the overarching level of responsibility in being a professional mariner, operating on the water wasn’t generally very clear to them until they sat down in my classroom and heard me out. You are important. You have a large public reach. The safety and well-being of others are in your hands. Working together, we can be better at what we do. Working together we can achieve an increase in safety, resources, and professionalism in an industry filled with great Captains. 

Personally, when I think of the gravity or at least the potential gravity of what all this represents to my fellow mariners and to our nation’s coast, it makes me want to up my game! It makes me want to be the best Captain that I can possibly be. 

Having taught 100-ton boat Captains professionally for the past 16-years, I can safely say that we are an underserved populous of professionals. There are precious few resources available in terms of recognition, professional development, skill-building, preparedness, and a support network. People come in the door, we cram 80-hours of information in their tired heads and they head out for whatever may fall. The quality of instruction, though monitored by the Coast Guard is really up to the individual instructor. Some of them are great, some aren’t. As distance learning takes center stage, I  feel particularly compelled to keep an experienced Captain as part of the learning experience. But others do not feel compelled to do so preferring the number of students over the quality of education. We can change that. 

The Confident Captain Professional Captains association is the support network that the hard-working micro-fleet Captain needs so you can stay focused on driving the boat knowing that we have your back when it comes to logistics, legalities and professional development. Whether you need your first Captains course, tailored legal contracts for charter and boat deliveries, or sea-time tracking, networking, and even a job board, we have the infrastructure built for our members so they can stay focused on doing the driving with the peace of mind of our power in numbers behind them all the way. 

Join us today at pro.confidentcaptain.com and be one of the greats of the US micro-fleet. Become a Confident Captain. The boat may be small, but the job is big. Professionals like yourself deserve a network like this!