Captain’s Quiz!

Tow lights, fog horns, distress signals … OH MY!  As many of you know, I am currently studying for my Captain’s License and *man* is some of this stuff mind-boggling.  I chose to do the study-at-your-own-pace program through Mariner’s Learning System and have been very pleased with the decision.  Captain Bob Figular who runs the Mariner’s Learning program has also answered many of my questions personally and helped me every step of the way.  After speaking with him and others and learning that the school (where you attend for several hours each evening for ten days before taking the test) is 100% scripted–meaning, the instructor reads to you verbatim for several hours–I know myself well enough to know I probably wouldn’t have learned much that way.  My mind would drift, the teacher would start to sound like the one from Charlie Brown (various pitches of honking horns) and I would snap to at the end wondering what in the heck I just missed.  With the books, I am able to read and re-read if necessary, then quiz myself using the practice exams at the end, taking them as many times as I need to, to make sure the information stuck.  I am still blonde remember … 

I highly recommend the program if any of you out there are thinking about going for your Captain’s License and I thought it would be fun to share a little of what I am learning with you.  I have been told the “Rules of the Road” section, about navigating oncoming and crossing ships and understanding the many lights, bells and whistles, is the hardest so I dove into that one first.  Let’s see how some of you do on these.  Three questions.  Leave your answers in a comment below and I’ll come back later and let you know what the correct answers were.  No Googling or checking outside sources.  Just go straight from the ole’ noggin.   It’ll be fun.  Go!


#1  Steering and Sailing Rules

BOTH INTERNATIONAL AND INLAND:  You are in charge of a stand-on vessel in a crossing situation.  The other vessel is 1.5 miles to port.  You believe that risk of collision exists.  You should __________.

A.  take avoiding action immediately upon determining that risk of collision exists

B.  immediately sound the danger signal

C.  take avoiding action only after providing the give-way vessel time to take action, and determining that her action is not appropriate

D.  hold course and speed until the point of extremis, and then sound the danger signal, taking whatever action will best avert collision


#2  Lights and Shapes

BOTH INTERNATIONAL AND INLAND:  Which statement is TRUE concerning a towing vessel which, due to the nature of her work, is unable to keep out of the way of another vessel?

A.  By day, she shall carry a black cylinder shape.

B.  By day, she shall carry two black balls in a vertical line.

C.  By night, she would show the same lights as a vessel not under command.

D.  By day, she would show the same shapes as a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver.


#3  Sound and Light Signals:

BOTH INTERNATIONAL AND INLAND:  In restricted visibility, a towed vessel must sound a fog signal when it is _________.

A.  the last vessel in the tow

B.  the last vessel in the tow and it is carrying a crew

C.  manned, regardless of its position in the tow

D.  None of the above are correct


I can’t wait to see how you guys did.  While much of this stuff has been intuitive, and I’m thankful for my time on the water which taught me these things via so-called “on the job” training, the rest has been tedious and new and simply a game of memory.  But, I’m plugging away at it.  Hope you guys are plugging away toward your own goals too!

26 thoughts on “Captain’s Quiz!

  • Hi Annie. I purchased and am reading your book A Civil Affair. I was hooked right from the start and did not want to stop reading. And it just keeps getting better. However, I do have a few questions and critiques. Mainly, why am I not in it as well? And, I strongly object to Addie not believing she is brilliantly intelligent and beautiful inside and out. Love, Kathy

    • Kathy! Wow, blast from the past! Thank you for getting a copy of my book. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I definitely put a lot of heart into that one and it was (as you can easily tell) a pretty ineffective attempt at “fiction” with a name like Addie. It’s a good read. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Thank you! Bring on the questions and critiques. I always welcome them. Hope you and the rest of the gang at Helmsing are doing well! : )

      • Counselor. I am pleading Rule 8.
        I was out on Averisera today and looked up the question. We have COLREGS aboard even though we are under 12 meters LOA. Later, on the launch ashore, I asked “Mel the Launch Driver” who agreed. Not arguing with you. Just saying…
        Is the Law always clear?
        This is fun keep some questions coming. Barges in the Mississippi? White lights on the offshore corners… or not?

      • Hey Norm. No worries. Plead away. I can only tell you what I know my Mariner’s book says is right. That’s all I know to go by. I’ll definitely keep a few more quizzes coming. It is fun to see the things I am learning. Glad you enjoyed it! And glad to hear you were out on the boat. That is exactly where you should be! : )

      • I taught the course for three years so I am a sore loser! You are right to follow the coursework. Worth looking up the answers, though. Keep the quizzes coming!!

        Out today, delivering Averisera from Chatham to Hyannis for a race. Course was West. Wind was East at 20 to 25. Boy did we scoot. Two reefs and no headsail, topped out at 11 with steady 8s. The ramps were up. Whooo Hooo! I love our little boat.

  • Hi Maverick ,
    I was a worry about my answer as you said it was wrong.
    This may be true as I am in Australia but then I found this…
    DECK : RULES OF THE ROAD – 706/1025Get a hint
    BOTH INTERNATIONAL & INLAND You are in charge of a stand-on vessel in a crossing situation. The other vessel is 1.5 miles to port and you believe that risk of collision exists. What action should you take?
    A) hold course and speed until the point of extremis, and then sound the danger signal, taking whatever action will best avoid collision
    B) immediately sound the danger signal, and change course
    C) take avoiding action by maneuver alone only after giving the give-way vessel time to take action, and determining that her action is not appropriate
    D) take avoiding action immediately upon determining that risk of collision exists
    JLONG123 – 2016-09-06 08:10:18EXPIRED MEMBER (10)
    This seems to be confusing. If a risk of collision has already been deemed to exist then the only response should be to take avoiding action immediately. Thus, D would be the correct answer.
    Though understanding that time does exist at a distance of 1.5nm, you would provide time for the give-way vessel to maneuver. Allowing for C to be correct. Yet, that is not what is stated by “believing that risk of collision exists.”

    • Ha! Mark. You sound just like me. I argue myself into and out of the right answer all the time. I dispute many of them. But I’m a lawyer. That’s what I do! I believe you’re right in that the distance of 1.5 nm and the time still available to maneuver is what makes “c” right but I believe I chose “d” initially too. It’s all part of learning what information they give you in the question and why. (That usually tips you off as to the right answer). Thanks for playing!

  • Captain Annie:

    I did this a bit differently in January and took a two week class in San Diego. I passed all the modules as well as the Sailing and Towing Endorsements. I have a great friend who took the Mariner’s Learning System and loved it and did well. Keep us informed of your progress and I would like to press/reblog this, I think it’s a good post- keep it up.

    • Thanks Son of a Sailor. I will definitely keep you guys posted. That’s the whole point of this. Sharing the journey! Even the tough stuff. I’m looking at perhaps taking the exam the end of June, but I’ll let you guys know. You’re welcome to share the post. I’ll do another quiz in June. Appreciate the kind words and your following along.

      • I was forced to sit through the class but would not have passed otherwise. But a good friend raves about Mariners Learning System, so I think you’re one the right track.

  • Just when I stopped Jonesing for the next video Annie…… I’m in Publix and on their canned music is the theme song from ….Have Wind Will Travel ….Aaarrrrgggghhhhh. What is that music title anyway?

    • Ha! Thanks. It’s funny, Phillip and I just started hearing it all over too. Maybe they just sold the rights or something. The band is Odezsa and I love about 70% of the songs on that album. The song we used is called “Sun Models” – LOVE IT!! The whole album has this great tribal pop sound. Definitely download and enjoy! Sorry you’re missing Video Annie, but if you’re following along on Facebook, I can assure she’s not missing out on anything, especially all those lost hours in the video cave!!

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