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!