Monterey Boats

  • Locate A Dealer
  • Request A Quote
  • Owner’s forum
  • Our partners

how to become a yacht captain in florida

  • Locate A Dealer Locate An Authorized Dealer Our licensed dealers will make the purchase of your next boat easy.


  • Build your boat
  • Blackfin advantage
  • Warranty Promotion
  • Savings Promotion
  • News and Events
  • Request a quote
  • Request a brochure
  • Request Parts & Service
  • Request Factory Tour
  • Locate a dealer

How to Acquire Your Boat Captain’s License in Florida

How to Acquire Your Boat Captain’s License in Florida

Are you looking to make some extra money or to live out your boating dreams? You could work as a paid captain, use your boat for charter, or simply enjoy the open seas while making money. However, to any of the listed you will need to acquire your boat captain’s license in Florida and we are here to help! While it may sound like a whole bunch of mumbo-jumbo it’s crucial to understand the requirements to attain your captain’s license. Let us jump right in!

The different kinds of Captain’s licenses

Most charters operators will need the 6-pack license which allows you to carry up to six paying customers on your fishing charters. Just like the master license, the 6-pack licenses have two different categories or ‘routes’ that are relevant for most charter boat captains: Inland and Near-coastal .

  • Inland route: With the inland route you will be able to cover bays, rivers, and lakes.
  • Near-coastal: This route covers everything that the Inland route covers, plus waters up to 100 miles offshore.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

You should strive to attain your Near-coastal 6-pack license just because it covers everything you will ever need. If you want to carry more than six paying customers on a boat up to 100gt heavy and travel up to 200 miles offshore than you should strive for the Master’s license.

Requirements list

Let’s get to the point because you’re ready to attain this license and we have no time to waste! Here is a list of requirements you will need in order to attain your captain’s license.

  • You need to make sure you spend enough time on the water. You will need signatures of witnesses that can attest you have spent 360 days as part of a crew on any vessel with at least 90 days in the last 3 years and a minimum of 90 days offshore as sea time.
  • You will need to pass your coast guard exam. You can choose to attend a school that could cost you between $500-$800 but will teach you all you need to know to pass your coast guard exam or may provide you with another exam to replace the coast guard exam.
  • Once you pass your coast guard exam you will need your United States Social Security Card.
  • Proof of U.S citizenship or Green Card.
  • Complete your application form (CG Form 719B)
  • Once you complete your application, you will need to pay your application fee and provide proof that you have paid this fee.
  • Proof that you have completed and passed your captain’s exam.
  • A copy of your TWIC card and if your application to obtain your TWIC card is in process you can simply provide the necessary proof that you have applied. (TWIC is a background check conducted by the USCG to check the National Driver’s Registry Report.)
  • You will need three reliable written character references.
  • A medical certificate including recent vision testing, valid CPR and first aid certification.
  • Document of a random drug test that you have taken in the last 6 months.

Waiting for your boat captain’s license

Once you have completed the necessary work to attain your boat captain’s license you get to play the waiting game. Although, you won’t be waiting months, you may wait only a week or two for the REC to review and forward your application to the National Maritime Center. When you receive your license make sure to look it over thoroughly to make sure that all of the information is correct.

When you receive your license make sure to do the happy dance because you have worked so hard and diligently to receive this license!

Bookmark & Share

User comments, be the first to comment on this post below.

First Name
Last Name
Your Name: *
Your Email: *
Comments: *

Previous Article

  • 5 Tips & Tricks to Fishing with Your Kids

Next Article

  • Top 5 Tips for Buying Your First Fishing Boat

Popular tags on this blog

Most popular articles.

  • Blackfin Fishing Boats - The Legend Lives On | Blackfin Boats
  • Blackfin 272 CC Boat Test - By Lakeland Boating Magazine
  • May Fish Trial of the Blackfin 272CC Model | Blackfin Boats
  • Ten Ways to Keep Your Blackfin Upholstery Like New | Blackfin Boats
  • Blackfin Boats Premier Debut Event
  • Artistry in Cleats Can Make or Break a Fishing Trip | Blackfin Boats
  • The Blackfin 272CC ? Ranked Among The Very Best Fishing Boats of 2018!
  • Blackfins new 33? debuts at the 2018 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show!

Related Articles

  • Fall Fishing In Florida: What?s Biting?
  • Where To Take Your Blackfin Boat: The Best Fishing Spots In Florida
  • Top 10 Must-Attend 2020 Fishing Tournaments In Florida
  • Fishing The Bay-utiful Florida Panhandle

My Boat Life

How to Get Your Captain’s License –A Step-by-Step Guide

From captain requirements to the coast guard application process – how to navigate the process of becoming an official boat captain.

boat gear shop

Like all other areas of professional endeavor, getting a Captain’s license is an essential and non-trivial process. Despite the years between my earliest thoughts on having one and actually applying…or perhaps because of that time…I am quite proud to call myself Captain !

From the time I was Quartermaster aboard the Chesapeake Lightship back when she was berthed in Washington, DC, I had wanted to get my Captain’s license. We in her crew had plenty of sea time. The late Capt. Joe Murray, John Hart, and particularly Chris Krusa saw to it that each of us developed our skills and knowledge beyond the minimum that we needed for our jobs.  We met collectively with a Coast Guard officer to explore the options for us all getting licensed; however, the wind was taken out of our sails so to speak when he told us that since most of us were not 18, we were not entitled to take the written exam.

I left that session crestfallen but I put it all behind me as I moved on with a career in research physics. Later, I learned that what the officer SHOULD have said is that if we had just waited (a few months) until we turned 18, we could have taken the exams. Years later, my problem was that I could not meet the requirement to have 90 days of sea time in the last 3 years. My employer would have more than frowned on my having been gone so often. And all of us had not even bothered to ask for sea service forms or letters to document our time on the Chesapeake.

Fast forward 34 years and serendipitous events led to my being able to get signed sea service forms for my time on the Lightship. Shortly thereafter, I became a boat owner WITH vacation time afforded to a very senior engineer in the company.

Long story short, I am Capt. Rob Chichester –  200 Ton Master with Auxiliary Sail and Assistance Towing Endorsements.

Navigating the path to a Captain’s license can be full of the brambles of regulations, forms, and oddly worded requirements. In this article, I will try to clarify the process and help interested skippers decide what type of license, scope, and tonnage they should pursue. Then I will discuss the application process and all the elements needed to assemble a successful license application package.

More Resources: If you would like a one-on-one consultation to have your specific questions answered on this topic or others related to boating, please sign up for 30 minute video consultation with me!

Trending Now: Custom Boat Life Gear

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Boat Mom Nautical Anchor Shirt – White Print

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Fresh Boat Scented Soy Wax Candle

weekend plans boating

Weekend Plans Always Boating T-Shirt

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Boat Mom Definition T-Shirt

The basics of a captain’s license.

A first time applicant will need to decide while type of license to pursue. There are two types available to one applying for a new license.

  • You may apply for a license to be an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) or the more familiar “Six Pack” license. It is so called because the holder of this license is limited to carrying no more than 6 paying passengers on any vessel within his tonnage rating regardless of the maximum capacity rating for the vessel.
  • The other option is a Master’s license which allows you to carry up to the maximum number of passengers indicated for the vessel in question. Whereas a Master’s license requires US Citizenship, an OUPV license holder can be non-US citizen. Clearly holding a Master’s license offers more opportunities; however as I will explain later, the knowledge requirements are appropriately greater.

The scope or route for one’s license is the waters in which you are authorized to function in your licensed capacity.

There are effectively three such areas defined:

  • The first is Inland which covers all inland rivers and bays not otherwise outside the demarcation line for the high seas. This may also include portions of the Great Lakes up to the International boundary line. (I will not explicitly discuss the Great Lakes or Western Rivers in this article but those waters are also covered by an Inland scope with a specific endorsement for each.)
  • The second route is near-coastal which means ocean waters not more than 200 miles offshore. By extension, a near-coastal route endorsement includes inland waters as well.
  • Lastly,  Oceans refers to all waters seaward of the Boundary Lines as described in 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 7.

Tonnage rating is determined by the size vessels upon which an applicant has served. The tonnage is not simply the weight or displacement of a given vessel. It is not how much stuff you had loaded on a boat. It is a calculation of theoretical displacement if the complete available interior volume of a ship were filled with material of density 1 (i.e., water).

There are formulas available to estimate that based on the dimensions and type of boat. The calculations are necessarily different for a sailboat and a power boat. On a very rough order of magnitude, a 100 Ton powerboat would be about 80 feet long and a 100 Ton sailboat would be about 100 feet long. The tonnage rating is a not to exceed limitation.

One need not necessarily serve on a 50 ton or 100 ton vessel to earn the equivalent tonnage rating (see the table below for specifics on that). One cannot be granted more than a 100 Ton rating on an initial license because higher tonnage requires that one has served in a licensed capacity before applying for the higher tonnage. When I renewed my license in November, I applied for a 200 Ton rating which was granted conditional to my successfully passing the mandated written test. By the time you read this, I expect to have taken that exam.

Tonnage and route are determined by one’s documented experience. While you may apply for a 100 ton rating, you may only be granted 50 tons (or less) if your experience does not justify the higher rating. Additionally, the greater the scope, the more sea time is required to qualify for the rating.

For example, while an Inland scope needs 360 days of total sea time with 90 days in the last 3 years, a near-coastal scope requires 720 days and again the 90-day recency requirement. The take-away here is that experience is a big determinant and should NOT be discounted in any way. Note that there is no path to being granted an Ocean scope except by being a licensed mate or master for at least 2 years with documented service on those waters. That is, it is impossible to apply for an Oceans scope on a first application.

It should be noted that an OUPV license is automatically issued with a 100 Ton rating. As coarse as this may sound, the reason is that it is assumed that with an OUPV license, the most damage one can do is to 6 people. Therefore, there is no particular benefit to issuing OUPV with varying tonnage ratings. New Master’s licenses are issued with ratings of 25, 50, or 100 tons. Discussions of ratings over 100 tons or Ocean routes are beyond the scope of this article. You may contact the author if you wish more information on those specific topics.

The table below is a guide to determining for what rating one may qualify.

Your Sea Time Experience

For a Near Coastal route, ideally, all of your time will be on Near-Coastal waters; however, you are allowed to substitute up to half of the 720 days required minimum with Inland route service. For the purposes of documenting sea time for a Near Coastal route, any time served beyond the 3-mile limit counts for that purpose. So if you charter in the Caribbean or crew on an offshore fishing trip, that time counts.

Just to be clear, sea time is not counted unless you are a working member of the crew of the vessel named on the sea service form. That is to say, just being a passenger is not sufficient.

To keep things on the up and up, the applicant is required to get the signature of the owner, manager, or master of the vessel on the sea service form. If the applicant owns the identified vessel, proof of ownership must accompany the form. Proof might be a Bill of Sale, vessel document, or a state registration.

Sea time is not counted unless you spend at least 4 hours of a given day underway . Being onboard the boat at the dock swabbing the decks does not count. Time underway is counted whether it is in route or adrift. Being anchored or moored also does not count. It can be tedious to collect and collate all of your sea service forms, especially after the fact. My best advice is even if you are only thinking about getting a license, keep blank sea service forms with you for the vessel operator to sign at the end of a trip. Note that the forms are not per trip but per vessel. There is room to document up to 5 years of sea time on any given vessel. There is room for five years of data because your license will be up for renewal every 5 years .

Technically, vessels over 200 gross tons now require a Service Letter from the employer or vessel manager. However at the time I applied for my original license, I submitted my time on the Chesapeake Lightship on a Sea Service form (CG-719S). That form was accepted for that as well as again when I renewed and requested an upgrade to 200 Tons. I may have been grandfathered so new applicants should verify their individual situations with the National Maritime Center .

Health and Medical

To be a Captain, one must be in good health and of reasonable physical ability. The Medical form ( CG-719K ) is the most extensive form one will need to complete. It also requires the signature of a licensed physician. Unlike an FAA pilot’s license, the physician need not be approved by the US Coast Guard. Your family doctor is acceptable.

For my part, I completed as much of the form as was reasonable. I then FAXed the form ahead of my annual physical so that the doctor could review what was needed and to be prepared to sign off on it. The only extra thing the doctor had to do was conduct color vision and standard wall chart vision test. Your vision need not be perfect without glasses but if that is the case, you should expect a requirement to be written on your license requiring corrective lenses to be used and a spare pair to be available when on duty. If your medical form is accepted, you will be issued a separate medical form which is to be kept with your Merchant Mariner Credential. There is a pocket on the back cover to hold it and the required Transport Worker’s Identification Card ( TWIC ). The TWIC will be addressed below.

Another form to be completed, this time by an authorized physician, is the DOT five-panel drug test . An applicant must submit proof of drug testing with no findings as determined by an authorized physician. Also be aware that to work aboard any vessel in any compensated capacity, you must have proof of participation in a drug test program, whether it be one in which you elect to participate as an individual or one required by your marine employer. Such proof is to be carried with you at all times just as your license and medical certificate must be. It is generally in the form of a letter attesting to your compliance and passing a test within 12 months of the date of the letter.

Criminal and National Security Background

One has always been required to agree to a criminal background and driving record check . As you can well imagine, adverse findings in either of these areas will negatively affect one’s application.

With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a requirement was added that licensed mariners have a TWIC card . In fact, anyone working in the transportation sector (air, rail, marine, trucking, etc.) is required to have a TWIC card. You will be investigated for any evidence of threat potential to national security. This is because as a licensed Captain, you may have access to vital and strategic marine facilities.

The TWIC card is issued by DHS through a federal contractor. There is an application to complete and a fee to pay. Furthermore, you must appear in person so that your photo and fingerprints can be taken. This bio-metric data is stored on the TWIC card and protected by a pass code. You must submit a copy of your TWIC with your license application; therefore, one must start the TWIC process at least four to six weeks or more before submitting one’s license application.

Separately, a photograph of the applicant must accompany the application. This can be a driver’s license or passport photo . It should be a state or federal government issued document. Others may be accepted but the applicant should verify this with the NMC before submitting the application to avoid processing delays.

  • Coastal Navigation
  • Deck General Knowledge
  • Rules of the Road

Deck General includes a wide variety of topics including fire and safety, terminology, and laws and procedures. Rules of the Road covers exactly what it says. Bear in mind that even if you are applying for an Inland or Near Coastal license, the Rules of the Road test will include elements of International Rules. So when you are studying, do not neglect to familiarize yourself with those details. There are some variations in vessel precedence, sound signals, and lights and shapes displayed by vessels.

If you are applying for a Master’s license, there are additional areas of test. The same is true if you are additionally requesting an endorsement for Sail, Auxiliary Sail, or Commercial Assistance Towing. The net effect is more questions overall.

You must score at least 70% in all areas except Rules of the Road for which you must have a minimum score of 90% to pass . Generally, that means you may miss no more than 3 questions to pass with a 90% grade. The Navigation questions will require you to work with a chart to plot position, routes, and so forth.

You may either pay an examination fee to take the exams administered by the Coast Guard or you may enroll in any number of approved Captains’ courses. You will receive a certificate of completion from the school to submit with your application in lieu of the Coast Guard exams; however, you will still take exams which include questions from the same list of questions that the Coast Guard uses. In the latter case, you will not need to pay an examination fee but obviously, you will have to pay a tuition for the course.

Completing your Application

The license application is not unlike many others. It is actually shorter than the medical form discussed earlier. There are two things to note on the application:

  • Item 1 of Section IV describes how one may be asked to serve on behalf of the country in times of national emergency. An example of this was the massive sealift conducted in support of the first Gulf war in the 1980’s, Operation Desert Storm. This is a voluntary action. However it should be noted that during the call up for Desert Storm, more mariners were needed than responded. It is a possibility, particularly in these times, that another such national emergency could arise.
  • Secondly, Item 5 of Section IV contains an oath to which an applicant must swear. If you present yourself in person you will be sworn in by Coast Guard personnel. If you choose to submit your application by mail or electronic means, you must provide proof that you appropriately took the oath as written. This generally means being sworn by a Notary or a local government official such as a county clerk.

Payment of all required application and examination fees is made online prior to submitting the application. You will receive a receipt which you should include with your application package. Pay close attention to the various fees and be sure you select all that apply but ONLY those that apply. An error either way will delay processing of your application.

Submitting your Application

When you apply for an original license and especially if you plan to take the Coast Guard exams , you will need to present yourself in person with your complete application package at a USCG Regional Examination Center (REC). Photo ID will be necessary as well.

One thing that happens if you appear in person is that you will raise your right hand and take the oath on the application. That was a very moving moment for me. Delivering your application package in person also allows you to interact with the personnel directly which could be very valuable if there are errors or omissions in your application package.

If you are not taking the Coast Guard exams and if you have been sworn by an authorized official, you may wish to submit your application by mail or electronically. Be aware that electronic submission has a limit on the size of the email attachment. My applications have always been larger than what is accepted by the Coast Guard mail servers.

Waiting for Your License

The Coast Guard has implemented a very good system of tracking your application and providing feedback at every step of the way. You will receive emails as the application moves through the system. It may take up to a week for the REC to review and forward your application to the National Maritime Center (NMC) in West Virginia. That was my experience with the New York City REC. It may be less in smaller, less congested venues.

By the way, you are not required to use the REC nearest to you. If you wanted to fly to Hawaii or Alaska instead of driving into Baltimore, you may do so. A good friend of mine drove from New Jersey to Boston to submit his application there because he heard the processing times were less than for New York.

Once the NMC has your package, the process usually will not take long at all. It is very likely you will receive 2 or 3 emails a day, often within minutes, as the application moves through the various approvals. Nothing beats the feeling you will have when you get the final email saying that you have been approved and your credential is being printed!

My original license took slightly more than two weeks from dropping off my application at Battery Park in New York to finding my MMC in my mailbox.

Once you get your license, look it over thoroughly. You may not necessarily have been granted the scope and rating you requested. Sometimes that reduction will be legitimate. Other times, it may be due to an honest mistake. Both my original and renewals had honest omissions. I was only granted a 50 ton rating on my original license when I had applied for 100 tons. I submitted the sea service form supporting the request for 100 tons after the fact and I received an endorsement sticker for the 100 ton rating a week later. Similarly with my renewal, I asked for an upgrade to 200 tons. My renewal was approved at 100 tons. When I contacted the NMC, they amended the approval and showed that I was then approved to take the required test for the 200 ton upgrade. So my message here is to not necessarily accept the delivered MMC as if it were carved in stone.

More Resources from Captain Rob

Being a licensed Captain is a great source of pride to me. I have enjoyed working with my clients as well as pursuing other commercial opportunities like relief captain jobs on various schooners, water taxi and tow boat jobs, and tour boat and ferry captain work. I look forward to many years of working on and enjoying the water.

If you would like a one-on-one consultation to have your specific questions answered on this topic or others related to boating, please sign up for 30 minute video consultation with me!

ask Captain Rob

Recommended Reading

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Captain Anchor Custom Boat Name Shirt

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Chapman Piloting & Seamanship 69th Edition

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Get Your Captain’s License Study Guide

captain license jobs

Make Money With Your Captain’s License Book

how to become a yacht captain in florida

USCG Navigation Rules And Regulations Handbook

Trending now: must-have boat gear for your boat life.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Jacket

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Starlink Standard Kit for Stationary Use: High-Speed, Low Latency Internet

how to become a yacht captain in florida

SeaSucker Flex-X Cell Phone Mount

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Inflatable Floating Pet Ramp

Trending now: custom nautical decor for your boat life.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Custom Captain & First Mate Boat Name Mugs

boat journal books

Boating Journal Book Personalized with Boat Name

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Boat Mom Definition Canvas Tote Bag

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Coastal Anchor Boat Pillow with Boat Name & Coordinates

capt rob

Capt. Rob Chichester

Related posts.

yacht rental

Can I Drive My Yacht Anywhere In The World?

May 11, 2023

yacht transport

How To Transport A Yacht Safely

April 7, 2023

boat captain

How Hiring a Captain Can Make You a Better Boater

May 29, 2021


' src=

Hi, I am hoping you can help me out. I am a USCG vet that was stationed at a small boat station in NJ from 1983-1989. I am trying to get my sea time documented but I am having a very hard time finding out how to do that since the station records were not computerized at that time. I have contacted the NMC and they told me to call the station to get an Abstract of Operations report. They just laughed at me when I called the station. I have requested info from but I am sure that will take some time just to get an answer as to wether they can do that or not. I was wondering if you knew how to go about getting the information that I need. I am sure I am not the only person with this issue and I can’t seem to find anyone that knows exactly how to go about documenting that time.

Thanks Jeff

capt rob

Thanks for your question. I don’t have a lot of advice for you regarding USCG internal procedures. Perhaps you can contact the Office of Personnel and try to get a copy of your service record. Alternatively, is there anyone at that small boat station who knew you? Would the OIC be willing to write a letter? The last and least likely option would be to fill out your own sea service form and see if anyone there would sign off on it for you. Now the regulations speak of a Certificate of Discharge being acceptable. See for example 46 CFR 10.232 ( ). If you already have that, you might be good to go!

So…start with your Certificate of Discharge and if you don’t have that, then contact the Office of Personnel to see if you can get the requisite documents. Let me know how you make out!

' src=

Hi Captain Rob, My name is Elton the 66 year old owner of a small 35 ft. Kingscraft houseboat. I spend a lot of time on one large lake. It is an older wonderful all aluminum vessel but weighs only about 8000 lbs. In the chart the lowest weight rating is 17 tons. I would love to educate myself and become a Captain. Is that possible at some level? I would also have to document my own time as pilot.

Sir, you have open to you both options that I describe in my article. You could pursue either a Master’s license OR an Operator of an Uninspected Vessels license. From what you have written, I see no inherent obstacles. You must be able to document your seatime, get a medical evaluation, and pass the 4 or the 3 parts of the written exam depending on which license you choose to pursue. In any event, you would qualify for an Inland license. Your tonnage rating would also depend on which license you pursue. Solely based on what you have said above, you would qualify for a 50 ton Master’s license. If you pursue an OUPV, that comes with a tonnage rating of 100 tons. For most people, the biggest challenge is acceptably documenting seatime. (It needs all be as captain. You can include time served as master, mate, or crew but NOT as a paying passenger.) If your concern is your age, I know a few captain’s in the 60s and 70s. I am one of the former myself. Good luck!

' src=

Capt.Rob I am US Army Veteran And I was wondering if their was a school i could attend to obtain a licence, I ask this because i have to decide what i want to go to school for and this job would be a top pick for me. Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated thanks

There are MANY captain schools that can help you with the written tests but there are NO schools that can help you with the sea time requirements unless you are considering enrolling in a maritime college like Kings Point or Fort Schuyler in the New York State university system. I used Mariners Learning System for my written tests only because it was more convenient than going to the USCG REC to take the exams.

' src=

Where would I get sea service forms . I have owned and operated my own boats for over 30 years and am now being asked to get a captains liscence

There is a link in the article for the National Maritime Center. All the forms you needs can be found on their website. Alternatively, you can search for USCG National Maritime Center with your favorite search engine.

' src=

Couple questions. Would working as a divemaster on a dive boat in the Gulf of Mexico count for near coastal sea time? And if you were to have 8 hours of sea time in one day, could you potentially count that as two days at sea? Or would it still be just one day? Thanks for all the info this has been a huge help!

Any time spent aboard a vessel underway counts as long as the owner, manager, or master of the vessel will attest to that. When submitting Sea Service forms, your option for your role aboard the vessel are things like crew, mate, master, engineer, etc. You will need to determine what your position was. Divemaster is not recognized and does not speak to maritime skills necessarily. (For example, you can dive from shore never having been in a boat.) Regarding the near coastal time, you just need to verify that the vessel upon which you served was indeed in near-coastal or ocean waters. The form has spaces for days spent within the specified boundaries and outside those boundaries. I once saw an interactive chart online for finding the boundary lines in a given area. For your purposes, you cannot count 8 hours as two days underway. You need a MINIMUM of 4 hours underway to count that day. Being at anchor or otherwise moored or secured does not count. Good luck!

' src=

Capt. Lots of good and helpful info. I boated the Chesapeake for 10+yrs, from the Delaware bay to Virginia in a 27′ cruiser. i’ve not been on the water since 2012. So to be clear, I need to acquire some time on a charter vessel to even attempt the basic “6-pack”. I have my CG boating skills and seamanship certificates,and will work on the CG719S. Living in Florida, lots of opportunity, should have done this sooner !! Thanks

Thank you for your feedback. I am glad you found the article helpful. Apart from documenting your sea time, I found the most labor intensive aspect was verifying that a) I had all the documents that I needed and b) I had correctly completely all of the USCG forms. A lesser challenge may be in determining what correct application fees are. If you are not sure, contact USCG NMC by phone, email, or online chat to get clarification on what fees you have to pay. Good luck!

' src=

This is great info..

I am starting out (hopefully) as a plan is due to new lifestyle i desire to get an two oceans open ocean 800 expedition catamaran (again very expensive so fingers crossed) but the plan is while the vessel is being built, i can take several classes and get a few certifications prior to launch, then as life you see everywhere on youtube for example have the vessel at dock, then day trips, then a week trip and just push it a little further until you are ready for the maiden voyage, really looking to live off anchorage in around the philippines / guam area mostly philippines or south pacific area, mostly friends and family but my question is any licence for that type of boat, and also if you have heard of any schools in the philippines? I know they have a few courses that are completely certified like any american school but a fraction of the cost, just curious if any particular licence i need to get or have?

You did not say whether you intended to take passengers for hire. Generally, one only needs to be licensed if you are getting paid to carry passengers OR if you working in more advanced maritime fields like tug boats and large cargo vessels. If you are only operating your private vessel for your own personal or recreational purposes, you usually do not need any kind of license other than possibly taking a multiple choice test on local safety rules and rules of the road. I am not familiar with the licensing requirements in foreign venues like the Philippines. Each nation has its own requirements. I was able to find information at this link: . You may find some useful information in that document.

Good luck! And safe sailing…

' src=

Your information was helpful, thank you. I have decided to pursue getting my License but I am starting from scratch. Should I take classes before looking to get sea time? And how does one go about getting sea time with no experience?

Any course work you take will typically culminate in a certificate of completion. However that certificate will only be valid for 1 year. Therefore, do NOT take any exams more than about 6 months prior to submitting your original license application. As for sea time, you can look for marine work that does not require a license like deck crew on water taxis or excursion boats. Time spent on a friend’s boat counts. Have that friend complete and sign a sea service form. Sea time never expires and can be counted from the age of 15. Learn your rules of the road and learn to feel your vessel. Driving a boat is a lot different from driving a car. As a licensed captain, you are expected to step up to the helm and handle the ship with relatively little training time. Good luck!

' src=

Great article, thanks for writing it! Does time spent aboard a recreational boat that I own, when I am the only person aboard, count towards sea time? If so how do I document that – there’s no one to sign for the time. Thanks again.

Time spent on your own boat absolutely counts. You would sign the CG-719S Sea Service form yourself where it says Applicant AND where it says Person Attesting to Experience. However, you will have to provide proof of ownership for the vessel. The Bill of Sale is usually what is used but the vessel’s CG document or state registration card should also be sufficient. Remember that seatime is counted only from the age of 15 and it is underway time of at least 4 hours per day. Time on the anchor or alongside do NOT count. The presence of others is irrelevant.

Hi Shane. Sea time is defined as time working aboard in any capacity relevant to the rating you are pursuing. For instance, if you are a bos’n or deck crew, that time it unlikely to count towards a engineer’s license and conversely, time in the engine department or work on mechanical systems would be difficult to apply towards a deck officer’s license. The highest rating one can get on an original (i.e., first) license is 100 Ton Master. It is likely that your Navy time would count; however, your challenge is getting an appropriate service letter from the Navy. You cannot submit a CG-719S for your Navy service as that form is for SMALL VESSEL service. Consult the USCG site at for more information. Also note that you may use any valid sea time accrued from the age of 15. Good luck!

' src=

Hi Capt. Rob, I have one question rather just some clarification regarding the time at sea, for the tonnage rating. Does “time at sea” mean just that or does it mean operating the vessel. I was in the Navy for several years as an operations specialist and I am not sure what level I would qualify for if I were to pursue getting a Captains license. Also I was wondering how much the entire process would cost.

' src=

Hey Rob, Thanks so much for taking the time to write this, it was really very useful to read. This has been on my mind for some considerable time, but I am now finally starting on the road to getting my licence and taking a nautical shift in my career. I have been a sailor all my life, was sailing single handed as soon as I could walk and now own a 38 foot Irwin racer/crusier.

My one big question is online study vs going somewhere to do the required course? I wonder how you gained your licence and what you might recommend?

My issue was primarily NOT wanting to have to take the tests at the NYC REC and to NOT attend intense 8-10 hour weekend classes. I was comfortable with the Rules of the Road and chart navigation issues as well the Deck General material. Since I got a Master’s license (versus the OUPV), there was more legal stuff to know in the category they call Ship’s Business. I did an online course through Mariner’s School in Princeton, NJ. The price was good and the location was convenient for when I did go to take the test.

The bottom line is do what works best for you given what you need to learn or refresh, how much time you have to do it, and where you will need to go to take the final tests.

(Please note that you can submit your application and/or take your tests at ANY REC anywhere. It is not a function of where you live or where you will sail.)

' src=

Great article Rob. Thanks for sharing your experience

Thank you for the feedback. Do please let me know if you have any further questions or if I may be of service in some other regard!

Comments are closed.

  • 501 (c)(3) Nonprofit Organization
  • Student Portal



First-class training programs to launch your career in the marine industry



Exciting new agreement with uscg.

Any future Professional Mariner Training students, or any student who has completed our PMT in the past 5 years is eligible for this unique lateral entry opportunity, subject to final eligibility determination by the USCG. Visit our PMT page for more full details.


At Chapman, we are committed to boating safety through education. It is the best way to keep pleasure boating just that - a pleasure!


View our programs, schedule a campus tour, request information, additional info, additional links.

  • Testimonials


Train with the best. launch your career..

Founded by the late Charles F. Chapman and the late Glen D. Castle, the Chapman School has trained over 30,000 students since opening its doors in 1971. Since its inception, the School has grown from a single vessel to a modern campus of classrooms, labs, dormitories, and large training fleet. The Chapman School is a world-renowned boat school that encompasses 9 waterfront acres in South Florida, located just minutes by water from both the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and the Atlantic Ocean.


Chapman is a non-profit maritime school located in Stuart, Florida.

World-class programs catering to boaters of all ages and skill levels.

Since opening in 1971 we have trained over 30,000 students.

Providing best-in-class boat training for over five decades.

Designated Maritime School of Florida in 1982.



9-acre waterfront campus in stuart, florida.

We have a 9-acre waterfront campus that allows us to provide our students with convenient hands-on learning. Our floating classrooms allow our students to “live it and learn it.”

Chapman School of Seamanship is dedicated to making the world safer, one boater at a time.


  • Career Programs

Are you looking to become a boat captain or start a career in the maritime industry but don’t know where to start?


  • Recreational Programs

The Chapman School is committed to boating safety through education. It is the best way to keep pleasure boating just that, a pleasure.


  • Youth Programs

Our young people are our most precious resource. With this in mind, the Chapman School provides courses for youth with career goals as well as for competent recreational boaters.



Join an elite class of skilled seaman ready to navigate any challenge.




My family (wife, 2 sons and myself) had a great weekend at Chapman this past weekend to complete the CPC 100 Boating Essentials Course. Captain Al was awesome to add vivid examples to the didactic so we could all understand better.

- Ralph Gousse, CPC Boating Essentials Course (2022)



Tax deductable boat donations.

In the United States, charitable giving to qualified non-profit organizations has long been encouraged by the federal government. The IRS encourages financial support of these organizations. The Charles F. Chapman School of Seamanship, Inc. qualifies as such an entity, under IRS Code 501 (c)(3) and the IRS has continued our designation of this approval since 1971.

Donating your boat enables our students to learn at the helm.

4343 S.E. St. Lucie Blvd. Stuart, Florida 34997

772-283-8130 | [email protected]

  • Campus Tour
  • Scholarship Information
  • For Veterans

Get the Latest - Join Our Newsletter

Get the Latest - Join Our Newsletter *


© 2023 Chapman School of Seamanship. All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices


Discover Safer Boating, Experienced Captains, Comprehensive Courses With At The Helm Training

We make boating safe, one lesson at a time.

Nationally-Accredited Boating Curriculum & Partners

Boat US  Foundation logo | At The Helm Training | Boating Course

USCG Licensed Captains

At The Helm Training has over 50 licensed Master Captains as part of our team.

Our Services

Exemplary boating training & delivery solutions, 40 years of experience.

Leveraging a wealth of four decades on the water, we combine time-honored maritime wisdom with modern safety practices that sets the foundation for a proven training curriculum.

Nationally Accredited

Our curriculum is accredited by renowned organizations such as the BoatUS, National Safe Boating Council (NSBC), and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). 

Hands-On Training

We believe the best way to learn boat safety is on the water - whether in your boat or ours, where we give you the practical skills needed for safe, confident navigation.

Boat Delivery & Relocation

Utilize our expert delivery service from anywhere across the U.S., Bahamas, or Caribbean , ensuring your vessel arrives securely to its destination.

About Our Deliveries

Owner/Operator Training

Receive professional, hands-on training with our f ully-immersive course to operate your vessel safely and confidently.

About Our Trainings

On-Water Boat Handling Course

Receive professional, hands-on training - whether on your boat or ours - to operate your boat safely and confidently. This course is ideal for boats 18-40ft.

At The Helm Training lesson on a boat with three people in life jackets

USCG Captains' License

Become a Licensed Captain with a simple, effective eLearning System backed by Mariners Learning System. No in-person testing with the Coast Guard is required! Just choose the course that interests you, and take the exam to earn your license online on your own time.

Mariners Learning System | USCG Captains License

Why Choose At The Helm Training?

When you choose At The Helm Training, you're choosing a training program that's been tested, vetted, and deemed among the best in the country. You'll not only gain the skills needed to confidently navigate the water, but you'll also be grounded in the best practices that these leading institutions advocate for.

We bring together theoretical knowledge, practical skills, safety protocols, and real-world experience into a single, powerful training package that empowers you to operate your boat with confidence and skill.

Client Testimonials

What our customers are saying.


Stay Connected

Join our community.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn!

The Qualified Captain logo | Safer Boating

For marketing and partnership inquiries: [email protected]

          View this profile on Instagram                       At The Helm | Boat Training & Delivery (@ atthehelmtraining ) • Instagram photos and videos

Get In Touch

Ready to make waves.

Our expert team of USCG-licensed captains are ready to help you chart your course. Connect with us today!

Contact Us

Return Home


We recommend that you get the best license you qualify for!


  • Under Construction

This will be updated shortly. Thanks for your patience.

Ask our team, 1915 south andrews avenue, fort lauderdale, fl 33316, +1-954-525-1014 | +1-888-839-5025 (toll free), site map | privacy notice | cookie policy | accessibility notice, 1915 south andrews avenue, fort lauderdale, fl 33316 +1-954-525-1014 +1-888-839-5025 (toll free).

FWC Logo

  • License & Permits
  • Commercial Licensing Information
  • Commercial Saltwater Licenses

What the FWC Saltwater Charter License authorizes:

A Charter Captain or Boat License is required to carry paying customers (where a fee is paid directly or indirectly) for the purpose of taking, attempting to take, or possessing saltwater fish or organisms. 

To be a saltwater fishing guide in Florida, you must comply with U.S. Coast Guard (USGC) requirements.  The U.S. Coast Guard (USGC) requires all operators of for-hire vessels to have a Captain license/Merchant Mariner Credential.  

Charter, headboat and saltwater fishing guide operations must have an FWC charter captain or boat license to cover their passengers, who are not required to hold a recreational saltwater fishing license.  Customers authorized to fish under the vessel license are not required to hold a recreational saltwater fishing license.

Dive charters:   Scuba divers engaged in fishing or lobstering must have an individual saltwater fishing license and all necessary permits if the vessel they are on does not have the necessary vessel license.

Charter Captain Licenses allow a licensed captain to go from boat to boat to do business.  A current Coast Guard License to Operate or Navigate Passenger Carrying Vessel License must be provided in order to purchase these licenses.  Any vessel then used by a charter captain to do business must be commercially registered or have a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation with a commercial designation.

  • Charter Captain - 4 or fewer customers  $201.50
  • Charter Captain - 10 or fewer customers   $401.50
  • Charter Captain - 11 or more customers  $801.50
  • Charter Snook Permit  $10.00
  • Charter Lobster Permit  $5.00

Charter Boat Licenses may only be used on the boat designated on the license and are available for vessels that are commercially registered.  A commercial vessel registration or U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation (with a commercial designation) must be provided in order to purchase these licenses.

  • Charter Boat - 4 or fewer customers   $201.50
  • Charter Boat - 6 or fewer customers  $401.50
  • Charter Boat - 10 or fewer customers  $401.50*
  • Charter Boat - 11 or more customers  $801.50*

*Issued to Coast Guard inspected vessels only.

How to Apply

In order to purchase an FWC Charter Captain license, you must have a Coast Guard Captain's license. Call 1-888-427-5662 for information on the Coast Guard Captain's license.  USCG charter boat captain information  is available on the USCG web site. The FWC Charter Captain and Charter Boat licenses and commercial registration can only be purchased at tax collector's office throughout Florida. For information about vessel registration visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Titles and Registrations .

What the FWC saltwater charter license authorizes:

  • The vessel license holder to carry up to the number of fishing passengers specified on the license.
  • The number of customers specified on the FWC vessel license to take, attempt to take, or possess a limit of saltwater fish or organisms for non-commercial purposes without purchasing a recreational saltwater fishing license.
  • A person who holds the “Charter Captain” License does not need to purchase his own recreational saltwater fishing license to recreationally fish from a vessel.  He may use his “Charter Captain” because it’s tied to him, this does not apply to a Charter Boat/Vessel License.

What the FWC saltwater charter license DOES NOT authorize:

  • Harvest in commercial quantities or the sale of fish.
  • Passengers (whether licensed, not licensed, or exempt from licensure) in excess of the number specified on the FWC vessel license to take, attempt to take, or possess a limit of saltwater fish or organisms (even if licensed by the USCG to carry more paying passengers).
  • The captain and crew to take, attempt to take, or possess a limit of fish or organisms under the vessel license.
  • Freshwater fishing guides.

More Information for Charter Operators, captains and guides

Surf fishing and freshwater fishing guides and their customers are subject to Florida's recreational fishing license requirements.  The FWC does not require additional guide licenses.

A charter vessel captain who possesses a six-pack license under USCG and an FWC charter vessel license for up to 4 people may carry up to two extra passengers ONLY when they are NON-FISHERS.

Additional restrictions on charter boat captain and crew and for-hire guides on a keeping their limit of fish under their own valid recreational saltwater fishing licenses are species specific. Currently, for most species of saltwater fish, with the exception of snook, grouper and red snapper in federal waters, all persons aboard a charter vessel can keep a legal limit of fish if the paying passengers fish under the vessel license and the crew fish under their own valid licenses. For-hire guides may also keep a legal limit of fish while on duty with the exception of red drum, snook, grouper and red snapper in federal waters. 

  • Red Drum (Redfish):  FWC regulations prohibit the operator or crew aboard a vessel for hire from harvesting or possessing a red drum. A vessel for hire means any vessel licensed to carry passengers for hire and has one or more passengers onboard who are paying a fee (directly or indirectly) to take or pursue any marine organism. You can read thee rule in the FAC , Chapter 68B-22.005(3).
  • Snook: FWC regulations prohibit the operator or crew aboard a vessel for hire from harvesting or possession snook.  A vessel for hire means any vessel licensed to carry passengers for hire and has one or more passengers onboard who are paying a fee (directly or indirectly) to take or pursue any marine organism. You can read the rule in the FAC , Chapter 68B-21.004(1)(c).
  • Grouper:   Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council regulations prohibit the captain and crew of for-hire vessels from retaining a federal recreational bag limit of any grouper while under charter in the Gulf of Mexico. Please review the NOAA regulations .  The FWC established a zero bag limit for Gulf gag, red and black grouper for captains and crew on for-hire vessels in or on state waters.  Current information about grouper rules is available from the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management. You can read the rule in the FAC , Chapter 68B-14.0036 (2)(d). 
  • Red Snapper:    In 2008 new regulations were implemented for red snapper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico that, among other restrictions, prohibits the captain and crew of for-hire vessels from retaining the federal recreational bag limit. More information on federal action is available from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council . Refer to the FWC saltwater fishing regulations for more information.  The FWC also established a zero bag limit for captain and crew of for hire vessels in Gulf state waters for red snapper.  You can read the rule in the FAC , Chapter 68B-14.0036(1)(c).

An occupational license may be required by the city or county where you are doing business.  Check with the city and county to see if you need an occupational license.

If you are operating a for-hire vessel in a park or a refuge (e.g., Everglades National Park), you may be required to have additional permits.  Please check with the park or refuge headquarters for any specific permitting requirements for those areas.

If you are operating a for-hire vessel in federal waters (outside of 9 nautical miles on the Gulf and 3 nautical miles on the Atlantic), you may need a federal charter vessel/headboat permit before fishing for certain species.  Contact the National Marine Fisheries Management Service , Licensing and Permitting Office at 727-824-5326 for information on federal charter vessel/headboat permits.

  • Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to footer

how to become a yacht captain in florida

(866) 300-5984 [email protected]

how to become a yacht captain in florida

What are the Requirements for Earning a Captain’s License ?

U.s. coast guard requirements for national oupv or master up to 100 tons.

A Captain’s License is required to operate a commercial vessel or to take paying passengers out on your vessel. Understanding the Captain’s License Requirements is important prior to taking a captain’s license course . The prerequisites should be reviewed before applying for any U.S. Coast Guard credential. This is advised so you don’t spend your time and money pursuing a license that you don’t qualify for. For helpful credential information and application packets, and official forms click here . For Maritime Institute’s fee-based credential services, click here  to get more info.

100 Ton Captain Captain's License

Prerequisites for Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV/”6-Pack”)

The National OUPV license is limited to uninspected vessels, of less than 100 gross tons, operating on U.S. domestic waters ONLY. Also limited to carrying six or less paying passengers. You must meet all of the requirements established by the USCG National Maritime Center in order to apply for this license. The USCG checklist of requirements is located here on the National Maritime Center website: . Under National Officer Endorsements for Deck, click on National OUPV Less Than 100 GRT.

Important sea service requirements for OUPV:

  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be able to document 360 days of experience on a vessel, of which at least 90 days must be on Near Coastal/Ocean waters otherwise license will be limited to Inland Waters ONLY. ( See: What Counts as Sea Service )
  • 90 days of sea service must be within the last 3 years of when you apply.
  • 90 days of sea service must be on Ocean or Near Coastal waters or otherwise the license will be limited to Inland Waters only.
  • If you are not a U.S. Citizen, you can apply for this license but it will be limited tonnage and restricted to undocumented vessels.

Prerequisites for Master up to 100 Tons on Inland Waters/Great Lakes

With a Master license you may operate inspected/commercial vessels and also take more than six paying passengers. You must meet all of the requirements established by the USCG National Maritime Center in order to apply for this license. The USCG checklist of requirements is located here on the National Maritime Center website: . Under National Officer Endorsements for Deck, click on  National Master 100 GL and Inland.

Important sea service requirements for Master Inland/GL:

  • Must be at least 19 years old.
  • Must be able to document 360 days of experience on a vessel. ( See: What Counts as Sea Service )
  • The tonnage of the license (25 Ton, 50 Ton, or 100 Ton) that you get, is determined by your experience. See USCG checklist in the paragraph above for the specific tonnage qualifications .

If you plan on operating an inspected sailing vessel, you must have a sailing endorsement along with the Master Inland/GL license. The required amount of sea service for a sailing endorsement on a Master Inland/GL license is: 180 days on sail or auxiliary sail vessels.

Prerequisites for Master up to 100 Tons on Near Coastal Waters

With a Master license you may operate inspected/commercial vessels and also take more than six paying passengers. You must meet all of the requirements established by the USCG National Maritime Center in order to apply for this license. The USCG checklist of requirements is located here on the National Maritime Center website: . Under National Officer Endorsements for Deck, click on  National Master 100NC .

  • Must be able to document 720 days of experience on a vessel, of which at least 360 days must be on Near Coastal/Ocean waters. ( See: What Counts as Sea Service )

If you plan on operating an inspected sailing vessel, you must have a sailing endorsement along with the Master Near Coastal license. The required amount of sea service for a sailing endorsement on a Master NC license is: 360 days on sail or auxiliary sail vessels.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

  • Cookie Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use

Sign Up For Our E-Newsletter!

Maritime Institute Online Course Portal Book Examination - Everett, WA Book Examination - San Diego, CA

Privacy Overview

Log in to maritime institute.

Professional Yacht Training USA Logo

Yacht Crew Training Fort Lauderdale

Mca officer of the watch, certificates of competency - 500 - 3000 gt training - oow yachts less than 3000 gross tons seven (7) different modules are required for a certificate of competency, stcw 10 training, international convention of standards of training, certification & watch keeping for seafarers the qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships., +300 google & facebook reviews 5 stars rating - the favorite among crew, marshall islands master & mate, marshall islands 350 gt master & 500 gt mate for the marshall islands 350 gt master & 500 gt mate course you must possess a 200 gt master of yachts or greater., mca compliance - oow, officer of the watch - yachts up to 3000 gt accreditation is widely recognized by all major yacht regulatory bureaus, insurance companies, as well as charter & management agencies., your career choice stay the course, experienced & knowledgeable yacht training professional yacht training is the only accredited iyt megayacht training provider in florida, mca master modules, certificates of competency - 500 - 3000 gt certificates of competency (coc's) are required in order to command vessels up to 500 gt or 3000 gross tons., professional yacht crew training for careers in yachting, what is stcw training & stcw 10 basic safety.

The International Convention of Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers defines the training necessary for all persons employed at sea. Starting out requires the completion of basic safety training courses which are compulsory requirements for all yacht crew.

STCW Refresher Program (STCW 10 Refresher / Revalidation)

Have You Satisfied the STCW Five Year Requirement – Providing Evidence You Have Maintained the Required Competence in Basic Training? STCW 10 Refresher / Revalidation entry requirements stipulated that you have previously been issued with a STCW certificate (STCW 95). This course is a requirement of the amended STCW 2010.

On-Line Tacht Crew Training Courses

Professional Yacht Training, Fort Lauderdale offers select on-line training courses through our training partner, VIRSEC. From MCA Approved STCW ISPS Maritime Security trainings to Hostile Environment Awareness & Antiterrorism trainings, VIRSEC’s fully online courses are user-friendly, affordable and easily accessible.

Yacht Crew Training - PYTUSA

We provide the Fort Lauderdale yacht crew training courses you require for MCA compliance and which are widely accepted for the private and commercial operations of both power & sailing yachts up to 3000 gross tons. The accreditation is widely recognized by all major yacht regulatory bureaus, insurance companies, as well as charter & management agencies.

The mca officer of the watch certificate consists of seven different modules ( oow crew training courses ), these are required to be completed for the mca officer of the watch (yachts less than 3000 gt) certificate of competency and are preparation for the mca oral exam..

Yacht Crew Training - Professional Yacht Training

Fort Lauderdale Yacht Crew Training School

Professional yacht training (pyt usa) offers international yacht training (iyt) for professional and recreational yacht crew. iyt worldwide master of yachts 200gt certificates are mca recognized and essential for working on board a yacht., since its founding in durban, south africa, in the year 2000, pyt has established an enviable reputation and we are delighted to now be able to bring our special approach to the us and offer selected courses in fort lauderdale., pyt reached a milestone in april 2013 when our subsidiary, pyt usa , was granted the license to offer iyt worldwide courses in fort lauderdale , florida thereby allowing us to bring our style of teaching to one of the main centers of the mega yacht industry., yachting careers | yacht jobs, start your yacht crew training in fort lauderdale, florida and work on a yacht.

Yacht Crew Training

No Surprises – No Hidden Costs

Your costs are inclusive of exam fees and training boat time.

You receive a commercial-grade certification, not an “endorsed” leisure ticket.

Full MCA approval for 200 ton Masters Certificate.

Fort Lauderdale Training Facilities

Centrally located in the heart of the “yachting capital of the world”.

Within walking distance of crew houses and marinas.

Crew agencies are also just steps away.

Professional & Knowledgeable Staff

Experienced trainers give you the individual attention often lost in bigger classes.

We provide a wide experience of training for all levels of international yachting.

Committed to succeed & progress towards the fulfillment of your career ambitions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Dockwalk logo

  • Career Advice
  • Salary Guide
  • Dockwalk Presents
  • Digital Dockwalk

How to Get a Job as a Yacht Captain

A yacht captain's office - the bridge

Kate got her start in the yachting industry working as crew. She spent five years cruising the Bahamas, Caribbean, New England, and Central America, then segued that experience into a career in marine journalism, including stints as editor of  Dockwalk  and  ShowBoats International .

The role of a captain is cut out for those with a deep love of the sea and who don't shy away from responsibility. If you’re an experienced first mate or a bosun itching to take the helm, here’s everything you will need to become a yacht captain...

The most common path to a yacht’s wheelhouse is by rising through the ranks in the yachting industry, starting on deck and building sea time, gaining boat handling and geographical experience, and accruing licenses. But even after the golden ticket is earned — that 500GT or 3,000GT Master license — you’ll find there is more to getting the job than the piece of paper. Most rising crew will get the ticket before they are ready to assume the responsibility. Here is what crew agents and yacht owners have to say about what it takes to be a superyacht captain...

What is a Yacht Captain?

Simply put, a captain runs the vessel, in some ways like a CEO runs a business. He or she shoulders all the responsibility on board and reports directly to the owner or their representative. “The successful captains are all excellent leaders, able to set a common goal for their crew, and ensure motivation despite arduous seasons and long hours,” says Deborah Blazy, who, as general manager of Lighthouse Careers in Valbonne, France (near Antibes), specializes in placing captains. “Important character traits are to remain calm at all times but also to have the right sprinkle of charisma to keep crew morale and standards high.”

What Does a Yacht Captain do?

Driving the boat is just a small part of a captain’s job — many say the easiest part. Captains also hire and manage all other crew on board, plan and execute voyages around the owner’s and charter guests’ expectations, organize repairs and maintenance, control costs, and adhere to all international, flag, and port state regulations — all while providing personable, first-class service, and maintaining the highest levels of safety.

So the role requires a captain to be much more than a navigator; he or she is also part project manager, accountant, mechanic, human resources manager, concierge, and, most of all, chief problem solver. As Blazy puts it, they should have knowledge of the perfect anchorage, but also “have a direct dial to the most prestigious restaurants and be able to book the prime tables last minute.”

On smaller vessels, the captain will pitch in to assist in all roles on board, from changing the oil to washing the dishes. On larger yachts it is much more of an administrative position.

  • M/Y Artefact: On Board with Capt. Aaron Clark

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Yacht Captain?

The captain must hold a license that is commensurate with the gross tonnage of the vessel and approved by the flag state. In addition, the yacht’s insurance company needs to be comfortable with the candidate’s experience and license and approve the hire. This is understandable when you consider that the underwriter is the biggest financial stakeholder in the vessel — on the hook for the cost of repairs or settlement if the captain makes a mistake.

Here are the licenses you will need to hold to become a yacht captain:

Vessels < 200GT

  • RYA Yachtmaster Offshore (with Commercial Endorsement)
  • or RYA Ocean Certificate of Competence (with Commercial Endorsement)
  • or IYT Master of Yachts < 200T
  • or MCA STCW Master (Yachts) < 200GT
  • or USCG Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel License (OUPV/Six-Pack) < 100GT (U.S. Green Card holders can apply)
  • or USCG Master Inland/Near Coastal < 100GT (U.S. citizens only)
  • or USCG Master 200 Ton Oceans (U.S. citizens only)

Vessels < 500GT

  • MCA STCW Master (Yachts) < 500GT Certificate of Competence
  • or USCG Master 500 Oceans or Near Coastal (U.S. citizens only)

Vessels < 3000GT

  • MCA STCW Master (Yachts) < 3000GT Certificate of Competence
  • or MCA Merchant Navy STCW Master < 3000GT
  • or USCG Master 1600GT (U.S. citizens only)
  • or USCG Master 3000GT (U.S. citizens only)

Vessels > 3000GT

  • MCA STCW Master (Unlimited)
  • or USCG Master Unlimited Oceans or Near Coastal (U.S. citizens only)
  • or Marshall Islands Master of Yachts Unlimited

When it comes to the USCG licensing, Capt. Ted Morley, chief operations officer of Maritime Professional Training (MPT) , notes that it’s “important to make the distinction regarding charter vessels, ocean routes versus coastal, and the number of passengers on board. The waters get murky when you talk about some of the other requirements — such as PSCRB for yachts with lifeboats, DP for vessels that are equipped, ECDIS, ARPA, and a host of other specialty requirements that many Flag and Port states will require of masters on vessels in particular service, areas, or equipment.”  

What Experience Do I Need?

“I think a lot of mates with about five years of demanding sea experience and good work habits have the ability to be great captains,” says one owner, who has three large yachts.

The most important experience is time on yachts, as opposed to other types of vessels. “We have very little luck with a captain looking to join a yacht with zero yachting experience,” says Ian Pelham, director of Preferred Crew, a crew agency in Fort Lauderdale.

The yachting industry is quirky and far removed from the predictability of the commercial world. Pelham gives the example of a cruise ship, as he once ran a fleet personnel department for a cruise line: “A captain on a cruise ship has a number of perks, including a cabin steward who cleans the personal space of the captain, there will be mess stewards who will serve and clean up the crew areas for the officers. Generally there is solid rotation — you know exactly when you are to join and when you heading on vacation. When on vacation you do not get calls from the owner asking where you put the ‘good’ whisky when the cousins were aboard. On a yacht, even the big ones, the captain has to be ready to step in at any level, including cleaning up, to make sure the owner has a great time. Most commercial captains just have not had that kind of experience.”

Blazy adds, “[A commercial captain’s] experience is often best suited to the Passenger Code vessels over 3,000GT, where the duties and working conditions in terms of rotation are often similar. There is, however, a huge learning curve in terms of standards and customer expectations.” She recommends these captains gain experience on yachts before assuming the top role. “For the more junior candidates who are happy to start again from the lower ranks on board the yachts there is a big advantage; often they are bringing great transferable skills and relatively high tickets for the deck teams, and so are able to climb the ranks rapidly. Those with the ability to be flexible in terms of outlook and approach will always do well,” she says.

  • The Best Superyacht Wheelhouses in the Business

What Do Owners Want?

“Owners are generally looking for someone who will give them the ultimate holiday experience while making them feel safe on board,” Blazy says.

When it comes to specifics though, each owner will want a captain that precisely fits with their vessel size and itinerary. “Different programs call for different personalities,” Pelham says. “I have seen captains who are extroverts, introverts, confrontational, compromising, joyful, serious, etc., who have each been very successful in their individual programs. I also believe that this is part of what makes a captain a fantastic fit for one program and a complete miss on another.”

Despite being some of the wealthiest people on the planet, most yacht owners care deeply about the costs, so financial accountability is a big part of being a successful captain.

“It’s a big responsibility for the captain to take care of the owner’s large asset. Good common sense is required,” says one large-yacht owner. “Fuel costs and dockage fees need constant awareness. Transiting the yacht at 12 knots instead of 22 knots from Nassau to Lauderdale protects the owner’s assets. Of course there are some owners who just don’t care about costs, but a majority do!”

This owner also expects his captain to spend time in the yard with the yacht, not consider it vacation time, in order to keep track of the yard’s billable hours, and to have some good mechanical knowledge so they can “withstand the salesmen/ consultants suggestions about replacing everything on your yacht.”

  • M/Y Florentia: On Board with Capt. Andrea Franci

How Much Does a Captain Earn?

With the stress of responsibility comes monetary reward. A captain can earn an excellent salary, with longevity and vessel size generally having the biggest influence on just how excellent that salary is. But just as the yachting industry is unique, so is each boat and what it pays.

“(There is) no such thing as average, or industry standard,” maintains Pelham. “My team has placed a captain on a 35-meter paying more than $20,000 per month, day one, and on a 100-meter paying about $8,000 per month, day one. I know of captains earning around $4,000 per month and I know of at least one couple earning $30,000. The pay of the captain is completely dependent on what the owner and the captain both believe it is worth.”

Dockwalk’s Salary Survey does give some good guidelines though. In its most recent 2021 survey, crew agencies provided a range of salaries, from the low end on vessels below 80 feet: $5,000 to $10,000 per month; to the largest vessels over 280 feet: $23,000 to $28,000 per month. Numerous captains working on yachts from 60 to 179 feet also shared their salaries and the average from their responses in each vessel size category fell right in the middle of the range given by the agencies.

What is the Best Way to Land that First Position?

“Finding your first captain role is no easy task. There is always the stigma attached that you have not done it before and so are you capable?” Blazy says.

Pelham seconds this: “Our clients love to see that the captain has already done what they want them to do next. If the yacht is 50 meters, they want to see 50 meters on the CV. If they are planning a circumnavigation, they want to see a circumnavigation in their history,” he says.

  • Where Next? Career Advancement for Yacht Captains

Of course, that isn’t good news for anyone looking for his or her first captain role. Pelham recommends emphasizing the experience on your resume that matches where you want to be. “Think about what you did as a mate on your previous yachts. Then pick those things that you will be doing as a captain on your next yacht, and highlight those aspects,” he says.

Blazy says the most common path on the bigger yachts is when the chief officer grows into the junior captain role, “moving forward steadily in terms of drive time and responsibility, covering for the senior captain while he is away. There is a mix of confidence and humility that is at play, and the timing will depend on the individual person and the owner’s expectations.”

  • Join the Captains' Club

More from Dockwalk

Most popular on dockwalk.

Seaworthy Secrets

How to Become a Yacht Captain- An Expert’s Handbook

Do you want to become a yacht captain? Having watched my husband climb the ranks over the past 12 years, I have first-hand experience of seeing what it takes to become a yacht captain.

We started working on a small catamaran in the Seychelles, and today, he is the successful Captain of a world-traveling 50m super yacht.

Becoming a yacht Captain requires a significant investment of time and money, but the reward of commanding your own vessel and crew is immeasurable.

Let’s explore what it takes, including the salaries, necessary skills, and certifications.

Table of Contents

Job Description of a Yacht Captain

The Captain of a superyacht is responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel, the safety of the crew onboard, as well as protecting the environment.

They are the primary source of communication with the yacht owner, guests, and management company.

They also handle all the daily operations of the yacht, including crew management and safety training. The Captain deals directly with management companies, port control, maritime legislation, budgets, accounting, and human resources.

a 60m super yacht docked in a marina with other yachts

Yacht Captain Salary

The below super yacht Captain salary guideline is based on my personal research using an average of over 10 major yachting platforms:

  • 20m-30m: $4000-$7500 p/m
  • 30m-40m: $5500-$9500 p/m
  • 40m-50m: $8000-$15000 p/m
  • 50m-70m: $13000-$19000 p/m
  • 70m+: $16500+ p/m

Additionally, with longevity a yacht Captain can also expect to see discretionary annual raises and bonuses.

If they work on a Charter Yacht there will also be charter tips received averaging $2500-$5000 per week of chartering.

the helm of a super yacht

Roles and Responsibilities of a Yacht Captain

The job of a Yacht Captain can be compared to that of a CEO, CFO, and COO of a large corporation. The responsibilities are huge.

On a smaller vessel of 35m or less, the captain will need to be more hands-on, and they will likely also be the engineer of the vessel.

However, as the vessel size increases, you will have larger teams and heads of departments to assist in delegating tasks.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Crew Management and training
  • Hiring and dismissals of crew
  • Human resources
  • Accounting and budgeting
  • Safe navigation of the vessel
  • Safe navigational planning
  • Marine and environmental protection
  • Vessel maintenance – planning yard work and refits
  • Owner and guest liaison
  • Planning of guest trips and itineraries
  • Ensuring the yacht is compliant with maritime law
  • Ensuring the yacht is compliant with all flag state safety regulations

Soft and Hard Skills

When it comes to the question of how to become a yacht captain, besides the required licenses, it is essential to hold certain soft and hard skills:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Team management
  • A quick thinker and problem solver
  • Calm under pressure
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Diplomatic in decision-making
  • Excellent boat handling skills
  • Navigational skills
  • Administrative skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Computer literate
  • Strong understanding of maritime legislation

3 text books for legislation on how to become a yacht captain

Mandatory Certifications for How to Become Yacht Captain

The license required when identifying how to become a Yacht Captain is dependent on the size/tonnage of the vessel they wish to drive.

Your entry-level Captain license is the Yacht-Master 200 ton. This allows you to drive a vessel of under 200 tons, which is approximately 35m/100ft.

From there, with enough sea time and experience, you can move up towards the Master 500 and then Master 3000 tickets.

If you were to start from scratch, you would first want to look at how to become a deckhand . This will give you all the information and guidance you require before you get to the point when you are ready to start your master’s licenses.

Here is the order in which you would complete your courses:

  • ENG1 Medical
  • Efficient Deckhand (EDH)
  • Yacht-Master Offshore (200ton)
  • Yacht-Master Ocean (200 ton)
  • OOW (Officer of the Watch)
  • Chief Mate 3000
  • Master 500 ton
  • Master 3000 ton

Yacht Master Offshore 200 ton Limited

Holders of this certificate can Captain a yacht up to 200 gross tons and must be within 150 nm from a safe haven whilst doing so. This course is also required to legally stand watch on a vessel of up to 500gt.

The course consists of theory and practical work and takes 13 days to complete.

Pre-requisites for Yacht Master 200t Limited:

  • 3,000 nautical miles while cruising at sea
  • 50 days at sea as an active crew member
  • 5 days as skipper on vessels less than 24m LOA
  • 48 hours on watch at night underway as an active member of a yacht’s crew. During at least six hours of this nighttime experience, the candidate must have acted as the vessel’s captain or watch leader.
  • A GMDSS-compliant Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate such as the RYA Short Range Certificate or higher
  • All qualifying sea time must be within 10 years prior to the exam

a compass on the dashboard of a yacht helm

Master of Yachts 200 ton Ocean Unlimited

This certificate allows the holder to be in charge of a commercial yacht of up to 200 gross tons on unlimited voyages.

This comprehensive six-day course on celestial navigation is designed to equip future yacht Captains with the knowledge necessary to navigate the globe using a sextant and air navigation tables.

Additionally, it will enable them to plan, undertake, and manage an ocean passage with confidence.

Pre-requisites for the Master 200 ton Unlimited:

  • Before enrolling in the course, candidates must have completed two voyages of 250 miles each or one voyage of 500 miles. The majority of the journey must take place out of sight of land, which means being at least 20 miles away from the shoreline.
  • For the qualifying voyage, it is expected to create a passage plan that can be reviewed during the course.

Officer of the Watch (OOW)

In order to obtain the MCA Officer of the Watch (Yachts Less Than 3000 GT) Certificate of Competency, candidates must complete seven distinct modules. These modules are designed to prepare candidates for the MCA oral exam.

Pre-requisites for the OOW:

  • IYT Master of Yachts Limited certificate
  • A minimum of 250 days of actual sea service
  • 115 days can be either sea service, stand-by-service or yard service
  • A Completed MCA approved training record book

The 7 modules include:

  • Navigation and Radar (15 days)
  • General Ships Knowledge GSK (5 days)
  • Proficiency in Survival Crafts and Rescue Boats/Advanced Sea Survival (3 days)
  • Human Elements and Leadership Management HELM (3 days)
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety Systems (GMDSS)
  • Efficient Deckhand EDH (5 days)
  • Electronic Chart Display and Information ECDIS (5 days)
  • MCA OOW Deck Oral Prep Work (12 days)

a large sailing catamaran sailing on the ocean. 2 men are putting up the sails

Chief Mate 3000GT

After obtaining the Officer of the Watch certification for yachts less than 3000gt, you can apply to the MCA for the endorsement of the Chief Mate (Yachts less than 3000gt) Certificate of Competency. It is possible to apply for both certifications at the same time.

Course Modules include:

  • STCW Advanced Fire Fighting (4 days)
  • Proficiency in Medical First Aid (4 days)
  • Human Elements of Leadership Management – Management level (4 days)

Master of Yachts (500GT)

This certificate is required in order to Captain a yacht of up to 500 gross tons.

Requirements for the course:

  • 12 months as a watch-keeping officer with an OOW Certificate
  • A valid ENG1

Modules include:

  • Stability (5 days)
  • Business and Law (5 days)
  • Navigation and Radar with ARPA Simulator (10 days)
  • Seamanship and Meteorology (5 days)
  • Celestial Navigation Refresher and Exam (5 days)
  • Proficiency for persons in charge of medical care onboard a ship (4 days)

Master of Yachts (3000GT)

This certificate is required in order to Captain a yacht of up to 3000 gross tons.

The modules for the Master 3000GT are the same as that of the Master 500.  If you pass all the modules and have met the requirements for the Master 3000GT, you can skip the Master 500gt Course and do the exam and oral for the Master 3000GT.

Requirements include:

  • including not less than 240 days watch-keeping service whilst holding an accepted OOW Certificate of Competency (CoC).
  • All of this service must be completed in vessels of 15m or over in load line length and include 12 months in vessels of 24 m or over in load line length, or 6 months in vessels of 500gt or more.
  • A valid ENG1 Certificate

Final thoughts

Most crew don’t anticipate the significant amount of time and money it takes when wondering how to become a yacht Captain.

My advice to you is to start logging your sea time from the very beginning and plan ahead. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities due to not having the required license.

If you are still looking for more detailed information or if you are looking to book a course, head over to the PYT website. They are an MCA compliant training facility with schools in Fort Lauderdale and South Africa.

Good luck on your journey. I hope to see you out in the big blue ocean commanding your own vessel one day.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Hi, my name is Lisa, a Chief Stewardess in the yachting industry with 10 years of experience, as well as 8 years of hospitality experience prior to that. Being in the yachting industry has been a whirlwind of adventure, growth, challenges and some of the best experiences of my life, and I am excited to share my knowledge and experiences with all of you.

Maritime Training Centers Logo

September 19, 2022

How to Get a Boating Captain’s License

The average Charter Boat Captain makes $82,865 per year , but the job can easily lead to a six-figure position.

If you’re into captaining boats and making big bucks, consider getting your boating captain’s license. Keep reading to learn the regulations and requirements.

Before learning how to get a boating captain’s license, you should know that there are different types of licenses to choose from. The most commonly sought-out licenses are:

  • OUPV License (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel License)
  • Master’s License

The OUPV License is also referred to as the 6-Pack License. A 6-Pack License allows captains to carry up to six paying customers on charters. This license falls into two subcategories: Inland and Near-coastal.

An Inland License covers the following waters:

  • Lakes (Great Lakes have additional requirements)

A Near-coastal route covers everything an Inland License covers in addition to ocean waters up to 100 miles offshore.

A Master’s License lets you carry up to six paying customers on charters on a boat up to 100t in weight. A head boat captain will need this license type.

Spend Time on the Water

One of the main requirements of a boat captain’s license is spending enough time on the water.

To qualify for an OUPV License, you need 360 days of crewing or piloting a boat. At least 90 of those days have to be in the last three years. If you want a Near-coastal License, 90 days have to be on the ocean.

For a Master’s License, you’re required to have 720 days of sea time and 90 have to be within the last three years. 360 days of sea time need to be offshore.

You can count these hours if you own a boat, but if you are gaining hours on someone else’s boat, they have to certify that you were crewing or piloting it.

Hit the Books

To become a USCG licensed captain, you have to pass the coast guard exam or pass an exam you take through a captain’s school. Completion of a USCG-approved course is a safe option because it will prepare you for the water.

Maritime training programs can guide you through the coursework and tell you what to do once you pass the exam.

An OUPV course will cost you $699 through Maritime Training Center (MTC). If you want to upgrade to a Master’s License course, you’ll pay an extra $260.

Captain’s License Requirements

After spending enough time on the water and passing your exam, you can apply for your license. You’ll need these documents to submit with your application:

  • Social Security Card
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or Green Card
  • Proof of application fee payment
  • Proof of captain’s exam completion
  • Copy of your TWIC card
  • Three character references
  • Medical certificate no older than one year
  • Valid CPR and first aid certification
  • Results of a random drug test from the last six months

Submit your application and wait for your license!

Get Your Boating Captain’s License

Having a boating captain’s license opens the door to multiple opportunities. In the state of Florida, you need to meet these requirements to legally captain a boat or charter.

Maritime Training Center offers courses to those interested. Check out our course schedule now to get started.

How to Get a Boating Captain's License

Latest Articles

Navigating florida’s summer waters: tips for new mariners.

joy_lnl_admin 2024-07-16T03:02:43+00:00 July 16, 2024 | Comments Off on Navigating Florida’s Summer Waters: Tips for New Mariners

Master Florida's summer waters with Maritime Training Center. From Gulf Coast to Atlantic shores, learn essential safety protocols, navigation tips, and local hazards. Enhance your boating skills for Florida's unique maritime environment.

Setting Sail on a Maritime Apprenticeship Journey in Tampa, FL

joy_lnl_admin 2024-07-09T13:26:17+00:00 June 26, 2024 | Comments Off on Setting Sail on a Maritime Apprenticeship Journey in Tampa, FL

Begin your maritime career in Tampa at Maritime Training Center. We offer apprenticeships with practical training in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Programs cover deck operations, marine engineering, and more. Get ready for Tampa's maritime industry.

Comprehensive Captain’s License Training in Tampa: Your Path to Maritime Success

joy_lnl_admin 2024-07-09T13:20:47+00:00 June 14, 2024 | Comments Off on Comprehensive Captain’s License Training in Tampa: Your Path to Maritime Success

Elevate your maritime career with captain's license training in Tampa, FL. Maritime Training Center offers Tampa-specific navigation, safety, and leadership skills for success in local waters. Start your journey to maritime excellence today.

Able Seaman vs. Ordinary Seaman: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Differences

joy_lnl_admin 2024-07-09T13:15:45+00:00 May 28, 2024 | Comments Off on Able Seaman vs. Ordinary Seaman: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Differences

Understand the key differences between Able Seaman and Ordinary Seaman roles with Maritime Training Center in Tampa. Our guide covers essential training, responsibilities, and career paths to help you succeed. Contact us today to start your maritime journey!

5 Insider Tips for Choosing the Right Online Captain’s License Course in Tampa

joy_lnl_admin 2024-07-09T13:11:56+00:00 May 15, 2024 | Comments Off on 5 Insider Tips for Choosing the Right Online Captain’s License Course in Tampa

Selecting the best online captain's license course in Tampa is crucial for success in the maritime industry. Maritime Training Center shares 5 essential tips to help you choose a comprehensive, Coast Guard-approved course with flexible learning options and experienced instructors.

Which Maritime Course is Right for You? A Guide to Programs in Tampa

joy_lnl_admin 2024-07-09T13:05:48+00:00 April 29, 2024 | Comments Off on Which Maritime Course is Right for You? A Guide to Programs in Tampa

Embark on a maritime career in Tampa with the right training program. Maritime Training Center provides a comprehensive guide to deck officer, marine engineering, and safety courses, tailored to your aspirations.


– Captain’s License/6 pack – Masters License/100 ton Upgrade – Masters License/200 ton Upgrade – Apprentice Mate Program – Apprentice Mate Steersman Upgrade


– Ordinary Seaman – Able Seaman (Any Rating) -Able Seaman (Any Rating) with Lifeboatman


– Vessel Security Officer – Basic Firefighting – Personal Survival Techniques – Elementary First Aid – Personal Safety & Social Responsibility


-PSC/Lifeboatman-Limited Practical Assessments -CPR/First Aid -STCW Basic Training -STCW Basic Training Revalidation

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Mariners Learning System Horizontal Logo - Light









Do You Need a Captain's License to Drive a Boat in Florida?

how to become a yacht captain in florida

 Tags: Captain's License Florida What Captain's License Do I Need? Drive a Boat

You do not need a captain's license to drive a boat recreationally in Florida. In most cases, the state will require you to pass a “safe boaters'" course/exam and possess the certificate of passing. Generally, this is obtained on a local or state level. However, If you are looking to operate professionally, i.e., take on paying passengers, then a USCG captain's license is required and is recognized on a federal level.  

With Florida being a prime location for tourist attractions, this is a great opportunity for a licensed captain to make some extra cash.   

You can offer many services in Florida with a captain’s license, such as: 

Sunset cruises in Key West 
Air boating to see gators or check out the Everglades 
Parasailing in Destin
Snorkeling excursions in Crystal River 

Captains have also reported a discount on their yearly insurance premiums, anywhere from 10-30%, for holding a captain's license. Depending on the size of the boat or the nature of the work, some insurance companies may require you to have a captain’s license.  

What's another perk?! The captain’s license you will receive from the USCG is not limited solely to captaining in Florida. This license is federally recognized and can be used anywhere within the United States, including US territories.  

This gives a licensed captain the opportunity to offer jet ski dolphin tours near the Mangrove Islands of Estero Bay or run a fishing charter from Miami down to Puerto Rico!  

Still on the fence? The consequences of running a charter trip or offering party boat cruises illegally in Florida can be significant. The Coast Guard can fine you up to $10,000 per occurrence, so we’d say the risk outweighs the reward.  

Also, consider the safety and well-being of other passengers onboard. A captain's license will equip you with the knowledge and know-how to be a safe captain.  

While you do not need a captain license in Florida if you are not taking on paying passengers, the benefits of having the license supersede the risks of operating without one.  

To learn more or if you would like additional information, check out our videos or contact us at                (609) 303-0664, M-F, 9 a.m.-5pm EST.  

Select Different CTA for each Post from Blog Editor

New Call-to-action

Subscribe Here!

Posts by topic.

  • So, You Want to be a Captain? (30)
  • MLS Seamanship Series (20)
  • Safe Boat Operations (7)
  • Captain's License (4)
  • Electronic Navigation (3)
  • Marine Communications (3)
  • Rules of the Road (3)
  • 25/50/100 Ton Master License (2)
  • Captains License Online (2)
  • Coast Guard Captains License (2)
  • OUPV/Six-pack (2)
  • What Captain's License Do I Need? (2)
  • Captain's License Course (1)
  • Captain's License Exam (1)
  • Drive a Boat (1)
  • Florida (1)
  • Great Lakes (1)
  • How Long Does It Take? (1)
  • Largest Vessel (1)
  • Mariners Learning System (1)
  • Real-life Story (1)
  • Sailing (1)
  • Towing Endorsement (1)

Latest Tweets

What captain’s license do i need to operate on inland waterways, can i sail a boat without a license, let us know what you thought about this post..

Put your Comment Below.

Mariners Learning System Horizontal Logo - Light













Copyright © 2024 ‐ Mariners Learning System™ All Rights Reserved.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Home Showcase 01

Renew Your Certificate

Recreational courses, superyacht courses, choose your location.

There is an IYT school on six continents. Begin training in the Mediterranean and finish in the Caribbean. Wherever you choose to be! IYT’s unique modular approach to yacht training has allowed the successful establishment of global partner schools offering a broad range of recreational and professional courses.


North America

South America

South America


Learn to Sail

how to become a yacht captain in florida

Become A Partner School

  • Upgrade Your School

Government & Organization Approvals

  • Recreational
  • Privacy Policy & Terms Of Use
  • Become a Partner School
  • Register with IYT
  • Find a School
  • IYT E-Learning
  • Certificate Renewal & Replacement
  • Get Certified
  • Recreational Training Course Progression
  • IYT Passport
  • Crossover Opportunities
  • Course Progression
  • Course Progression Interior
  • Dive Boat Training
  • Forms And Docs
  • Instructor Training
  • Personal Watercraft Operator
  • Dinghy Sailing Programme
  • IYT Try Sailing
  • IYT Introductory Sailing Skills
  • IYT Day Skipper / Crew Sail
  • International Crew
  • International Flotilla Skipper
  • International Bareboat Skipper
  • International Flotilla Skipper Sail – Catamaran
  • International Bareboat Skipper Sail – Catamaran
  • International Certificate of Competency (ICC Certificate)
  • Powerboat Skipper
  • Yachtmaster Coastal (Power or Sail)
  • Yachtmaster Coastal Sail – Catamaran
  • Yachtmaster Offshore (Power or Sail)
  • Yachtmaster Offshore Sail – Catamaran
  • Yachtmaster Ocean
  • Patron de Yates (Yachtmaster Coastal Spanish edition)
  • Marine Communications (VHF-SRC)
  • Small Powerboat and Rib Master (MCA Recognised)
  • IYT Commercial Tender License Course
  • Weather Master
  • Navigation Master
  • Master of Yachts Coastal/Mate 200 Tons (Power or Sail)
  • Master of Yachts Limited (Power or Sail)
  • Master of Yachts Unlimited
  • Superyacht Chef
  • Superyacht Deck Crew Course
  • Introduction to Yacht Marine Engineering
  • Superyacht Hospitality Training
  • Boat Engineer Course (SCV Code for Vessels Operating in the Caribbean)
  • IYT-MSWI BoatMaster Course
  • Become An IYT School
  • Find A School
  • Course Levels
  • Instructor Qualifications
  • Vessel Requirements
  • Vessel and Facility Requirements
  • Unauthorised Schools and Other Entities
  • Shipping & Delivery
  • Government Approvals
  • svg]:fill-accent-900 [&>svg]:stroke-accent-900"> 735K
  • svg]:fill-accent-900 [&>svg]:stroke-accent-900"> 133K
  • svg]:fill-accent-900 [&>svg]:stroke-accent-900"> 54.1K

Charter Captains Say Sharks Are Out of Control and They’re Losing More Fish to the ‘Taxman’

By Bob McNally

Posted on Jul 16, 2024 2:59 PM EDT

7 minute read

Anyone who is more than just an occasional saltwater fisherman has almost assuredly met the “taxman.” This nickname is meant to describe any shark that steals a hooked fish (or part of it) off an angler’s line. And with shark populations on the rise in many areas , it seems like more and more saltwater anglers across the East Coast are getting taxed.

Although sharks exist on all major coastlines, they’ve become especially problematic in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, where many charter captains say they’re losing more fish than ever before. More than a few striped bass have fallen victim to sharks in Chesapeake Bay and the greater New England area, while anglers in the Gulf are often pushed out of their best spots by the sharp-toothed predators.

The warm waters of the South seem to be a particularly troublesome region for fish-stealing sharks, and I’ve experienced this myself on at least a few occasions over the years. I can remember one recent trip on the Mississippi coast, which is a great wade fishing area but one of the most shark-infested places I’ve ever fished. Six of us were in chest deep water, catching one speckled trout after another. Soon a school of sharks showed up, their fins cutting through the surface and sending trout fleeing in every direction.

A jack eaten by a shark.

Photo by Bob McNally

The gang worked closer and, when the 4- to 6-foot-long sharks started slamming our hooked trout mere feet from our rod tips, we finally gave up and retreated to a beach. That’s when we looked down at the stringers attached to our wade belts and saw that only the trouts’ heads were left. Those fish were devoured within arm’s reach and we never even felt it.

Prowling the Shallows, Patrolling the Depths

Nearly every charter captain working in the Gulf of Mexico has a story like mine. Captain Mike Frenette fishes around Venice, Louisiana, where the rich waters at the mouth of the Mississippi river draw tremendous schools of shrimp and baitfish, along with a wide assortment of gamefish, including cobia, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, and marlin. This also brings a staggering number of sharks to the area, and Frenette says he’s seeing more of them now than ever before.

“Over the past 10 years I’ve seen a tremendous increase in many shark species,” Frenette tells Outdoor Life . “They’re not only in deep water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but throughout the shallow waters of the Delta.”

Frenette says he’s seen bull sharks ravaging redfish in water as shallow as two feet. And when he’s fishing for bigger bull reds and tuna in deeper water, encounters with sharks are almost a given.

A grouper bitten by a shark.

Photo via Facebook

“There are places at the mouth of the Mississippi where giant dusky, bull, and silky sharks attack maybe 80 percent of the yellowfin [tuna] we hook,” Frenette says. “I’ve never seen the number of sharks that we now have in coastal and offshore waters around Louisiana.”

Captains in other states throughout the coastal South will tell you the same. Offshore crews encounter taxmen on a daily basis, and the Florida Keys have about as many sharks as anywhere else in the country. Sharks there see plenty of anglers, so it doesn’t take them long to associate fishing boats with free meals.

“The sharks roaming ledges and reefs are trained to come to fishing boats and hang there waiting for an easy meal,” says Capt. Joel Brandenburg, who runs Ana Banana Charter Fishing in Marathon, Florida. “Feeding sharks with the fish we hook is an everyday occurrence for me and just about every other charter captain I know in the Florida Keys.”

Spoiling Tournaments and Eating World Records

Sharks eating hooked gamefish is bad news whenever it occurs, but there are times when it’s especially problematic — both for anglers and the resource itself. On Friday, for example, Florida held a one-day season for Atlantic snapper, with a NOAA-dictated limit of one fish per angler due to the Fed’s concerns over fish populations.

Legions of sport anglers loaded their boats with fuel, ice, tackle, and friends, and then headed offshore in the hopes of landing a single large snapper per person. Fishing was exceptional by most accounts, but sharks took a murderous toll, according to many local anglers.

A bodiless snapper that was eaten by a shark.

“I’d bet my last dollar that everyone who fished off northeast Florida during that one-day snapper season had big trouble boating their hooked snapper, triggerfish, or grouper,” says Capt. Danny Patrick, a longtime offshore angler who fishes out of Jacksonville.    

It’s doubtful whether any of those stolen fish would have broken records, but that exact scenario played out in July 2023, when Florida charter captain Daniel Delph watched a client lose what could have been a world-record snapper to sharks . They were fishing near the Dry Tortugas, 75 miles off Key West, when the angler hooked a heavy fish some 300 feet down. Sharks got to the snapper immediately, and by the time the angler reeled in the fish, the only thing left was a massive red head.

Read Next: Shark Eats What Could Have Been the New World-Record Red Snapper

“Our best guess was that fish whole and intact was about 55 pounds,” Delph says. “It likely would have been an IGFA all-tackle record for red snapper, which is just over 50 pounds.”

Delph says he remembers having troubles with sharks back in the 80s, 90s, and early aughts. But he explains that today, the problem is twice as bad as it was back then, and he’ll often have to move areas or target a different species when the taxmen move in.

Fish eaten by sharks.

Photos via Facebook

“We work hard to avoid sharks,” he says. “We never anchor, and we never fish more than 10 or 15 minutes in one spot. We have to constantly move around to avoid them.”

Some anglers have even lost money to the pesky predators. Sharks are a constant presence at most fishing tournaments, and the 65 th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament out of Morehead City, North Carolina, was no exception. In June 2023, a team of anglers competing in the tourney got the disappointment of their fishing lives when they weighed what would have been the largest marlin caught at the event.  

That 619.4-pound blue marlin would have brought them a $3.5 million payout. But tournament officials noticed a shark bite near the fish’s head, which automatically disqualified it .

Is It Time to Change Shark Management?

Sharks have inhabited the oceans for much longer than we’ve been fishing with rods and reels, and fishermen have always had to pay the taxman on occasion. But many of those anglers will tell you that the problem has gotten particularly bad in recent decades as several laws protecting sharks from harvest have been enacted.

These regulations were made, in part, to balance out the negative perceptions that people held about sharks, and to stem the demand for shark fins abroad. Now, some anglers believe the restrictions have gone too far by replacing scientific management with protectionist ideologies. They say that shark populations have gotten out of control in the absence of pressure, and they’d like to see increased of harvest of certain species — especially bull sharks, which are one of the three shark species most likely to attack a human, though attacks remain statistically rare.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, sharks are everywhere,” Delph says. “So many people think [all] sharks are endangered, but that’s not the case. It’s just so frustrating because it’s devastating to our marine fisheries.”

Landing a hammerhead shark.

Sharks are notorious for eating hooked tarpon, another world-renowned game fish that’s a conservation priority in many states. As a result, these fish are almost always released, but that doesn’t mean they always swim way.

Read Next: Great White Shark Tales from Cape Cod’s Charter Boat Captains

“The biggest threat to my charter fishing is when sharks attack tarpon [caught] my clients,” says Capt. Ray Markham, who fishes out of St. Petersburg and has a background in marine biology. “Every year sharks follow the northward tarpon migration. I see guys in waist deep water holding their tarpon for a photo. You won’t catch me in there because I’ve seen 15-foot sharks — hammerheads, bulls, and others — that’ll take a tarpon out of your hand when you’re trying to unhook and release the fish.”

Another longtime and respected Florida guide, Capt. Lenny Moffo remembers holding an estimated 100-pound tarpon boat side one time so his client could get a photo. Moffo pulled the tarpon’s head up as the picture was snapped, but as soon as he released the fish there was an explosion of water, blood, and scales as a shark devoured the trophy fish.

I can remember one outing near the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, when two friends and I experienced some of the best tarpon fishing of our lives, catching 13 tarpon that weighed between 50 to 150 pounds. After losing four of those huge tarpon to taxmen, we quit fishing for the day, not wanting to feed any more quality gamefish to the big hammerheads and bull sharks that were lying in wait.

Latest in Saltwater Fishing

How to catch saltwater ‘panfish’ on your family vacation how to catch saltwater ‘panfish’ on your family vacation.

By Joe Cermele

I Fought an 11-Foot Swordfish Solo from My 17-Foot Boat I Fought an 11-Foot Swordfish Solo from My 17-Foot Boat

By Larry Litvinoff as told to Earl Gustkey

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Ex-Husband Starts Uncontrollable Blaze on a Georgia Boat in Disturbing Revenge Plot

An "evil, evil" man with a reported history of violence became the prime suspect in the double murder of Karen Barnes and Larry Ford aboard a liveaboard trawler.

how to become a yacht captain in florida

A shocking double murder on a liveaboard trawler rocked those living around the wetlands of St. Mary’s River in Georgia. A quick-moving investigation by local and state authorities would not only lead to a suspect with a documented history of violence but a deadly face-off between them and an “evil, evil” killer.

How to Watch

Watch  Deadly Waters with Captain Lee  on Oxygen Saturdays at 9/8c and next day on Peacock. 

It all began on August 12, 2012, on a blackwater river in the city of St. Mary’s, about 40 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida. Camden County dispatchers received what marine journalist Peter Swanson called a “haunting” 911 call at about 3:00 a.m., hearing the muffled moans and screams of an unknown person, as obtained and published by Deadly Waters with Captain Lee , airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen .  

Though the caller provided no information, investigators traced the phone to the St. Mary’s Boat Yard off New Point Peter Road, according to Detective Misty Gilliland of the St. Mary’s Police Department.

What happened to Karen Barnes' boat?

“As I come to the middle of the causeway, all I could see was this blazing inferno in the river,” Gilliland said. “My stomach just sunk to the floor.”

The heat coming from the anchored vessel was so severe that responders could feel it from the shore, making it impossible to approach the boat safely. Without knowing the cause of the fire — and since water could have exacerbated the blaze — authorities had no choice but to wait for the fire to die. 

It was clear that, if anyone was on board, there were no survivors.

Karen Barnes featured on Deadly Waters With Captain Lee episode 107

“If someone was living on this vessel, it’s essentially like a house fire on water, and there’s the possibility of multiple victims onboard,” said series host  Captain Lee .

Authorities soon learned the 37-foot houseboat was a customized Great Harbour Trawler named “Premium Time.” Later confirmed by the boat’s H.I.N. (hull identification number), authorities gleaned the boat belonged to 55-year-old woman Karen Barnes. According to marina locals, she’d recently been spending time with her friend Larry Ford.

As the boat continued to burn, police attempted to contact Ford to no avail. By 6:30 a.m., three hours after responders were called to the fire, the flames had settled enough for authorities to cut the anchor and bring the boat back to the dock.  

The Crime Scene of the Fire featured on Deadly Waters With Captain Lee Episode 107

“The fire wasn’t fully extinguished until about 12:15 that afternoon,” Gilliland told Deadly Waters. “Quite a long time.”

For more in true crime: Days After Getting Married, Man Dies in Wife's Arms While Defending Her from Serial Killer Intruder Beloved Teacher Found Slain Right Before Christmas — Who Attacked Her In Broad Daylight? “He Was Worth More Dead Than Alive”: Woman Hires Brother to Kill Husband for $500K

G.B.I. (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) Special Agent in Charge Cathy Mausolf said that by then, there was “virtually nothing left of the boat.”

Who was on the Premium Time boat?

On the afternoon of the blaze, investigators discovered burned bone fragments on the boat, which were sent to Savannah, Georgia, for a post-mortem examination. DNA testing confirmed the remains belonged to Karen Barnes.

Barnes’ sister, Lesha White, told Deadly Waters that news of her sister’s death was “heart-wrenching,” a sentiment shared by those who knew the decedent best. Susan Graham, a close friend and member of the Great Harbour Trawler community, said the news left everyone “in shock.”

According to White, Barnes came from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was the oldest of four children. She’d joined White in St. Mary’s, where the younger sister helped her find work as an event planner.

Karen Barnes featured on Deadly Waters With Captain Lee episode 107

“She loved the beach; she loved to go looking for shells, kayaking, swimming,” said White. “She loved all of it.”

Meanwhile, investigators — still sifting through the boat’s ash — found shell casings on board, leading them to believe that Barnes was shot to death. At the time, they were still looking for her male friend Larry Ford, who — according to Swanson — was a boat technician who frequented the waters of southeast Georgia.

“Larry was just the nicest man; just real laid-back,” said White. “He would help Karen, and she would take him food. He just kinda was there [and] would help anybody with whatever they need[ed] done.”

A medical examiner ultimately contacted investigators, informing them that they had bones belonging not only to Barnes but to Larry Ford, too.

Who was Karen Barnes’ former husband David Trauger?

Locals described Ford as a great guy, but according to witnesses, Barnes was recently “concerned” about her ex-husband, 67-year-old David Trauger, according to Det. Gilliland. The couple had only divorced that very summer.

Barnes and Trauger met at a restaurant in 2009 when Barnes still worked as an event planner, journalist Peter Swanson told Deadly Waters.

“David Trauger, he had an insurance company in Pennsylvania,” said Swanson. “He was financially well off.”

Trauger already owned Premium Time when meeting Barnes, a trawler worth more than half a million dollars, thanks to its customized interior and an additional tender (a small boat used to transport people between the primary boat and shore).  

The couple married only months after meeting, and according to White, Trauger’s financial status allowed Barnes to stop working.

But the honeymoon stage didn’t last long.

“Karen was good to David, but David was an alcoholic,” Graham told Deadly Waters. “Karen did say she would never have gotten involved with him if she knew he was an alcoholic.”

White said when Trauger drank, he was “an evil, evil, hateful person.”

Evidence points to David Trauger in Karen Barnes' death

Loved ones and records helped investigators discover Trauger reportedly had jealous fits of rage and went as far as to injure Barnes’ arm so that she required a cast.

In 2012, not long before the double homicide, Barnes reported that Trauger tried to run their vehicle off the road as a form of domestic violence, according to divorce attorney Melissa Cruthirds.

“At that point, Karen came to our firm to file a divorce against her husband, David Trauger,” Cruthirds told Deadly Waters. “She had been in this abusive relationship with David for several years, and she wanted out.”

Both parties worked it out so that Trauger would keep his homes, properties, and business while Barnes was awarded alimony and Premium Time. But the alleged abuse continued, and even after they split, Trauger allegedly stalked Barnes when both resided on Jekyll Island, Georgia, about 50 miles on the coast north of St. Mary’s.

There was a “turning point,” Det. Gilliland said, after a June 2012 incident when Trauger allegedly attempted to break into the Premium Time, though Barnes had changed the locks. The boat was supposed to have been Trauger’s retirement plan, and when Barnes was awarded the trawler, he went into “a downward spiral.”

“He really wanted his boat back,” said Gilliland.

Around that time, Barnes met Jekyll Island regular Larry Ford, and he presumably hoped to help Barnes by giving her a handgun for self-defense, a firearm never found with the boat. Ford also helped Barnes take Premium Time to St. Mary’s in an attempt to hide from the embattled ex-husband, and he lived nearby to make her feel safe.

“They selected the waters out front of St. Mary’s Marine Services’ Boatyard because it was a good place to hide,” Swanson told Deadly Waters. “But David somehow manages to find them.”

The stalking continued, with documented reports that Trauger followed Barnes in a grocery store and allegedly boarded the Premium Time illegally to tamper with the boat’s steering. According to Atty. Cruthirds, Barnes applied for a stay-away order, but the sheriff’s office couldn’t locate Trauger to serve him with papers. 

Barnes’ sister, Lesha White, said Barnes stayed with her for her protection just before the double murder, stating she had “a bad feeling” on Aug. 12, 2012, when Barnes left to retrieve some clothes.

What happened to David Trauger?

Multiple agencies helped search for Trauger, the sole suspect in the double homicide, and considered him armed and dangerous. Media published the suspect’s face, and a B.O.L.O. (Be on the Lookout) was issued for Trauger and his vehicle. Eventually, they found Trauger’s truck parked at a local gas station.

Responders located a trail in the woods behind the gas station. They followed it to several personal items, including a wallet and a bloody gun holster, all of which were connected to Trauger.

Searches continued through the day and resumed the next day, though there was no sign of the murder suspect. But on Aug. 15, 2012, at around 9:00 a.m., neighbors from a nearby apartment complex reported they spotted Trauger, who was allegedly staying there.

By the time Det. Misty Gilliland and the others retreated from the forest and arrived at the complex, law enforcement had the place surrounded. Soon, Trauger stepped outside.

Trauger’s response was to draw a handgun and fire one shot in law enforcement’s direction, prompting G.B.I. authorities to fire back, subsequently killing Trauger on the scene. According to overwhelming evidence found after Trauger’s death — including numerous suicide letters and last-wish memos — it was determined that Trauger’s death was suicide by cop.

White told Deadly Waters that she was “disappointed” that her sister’s killer died before hearing the impact the murders had on her life

What investigators believed happened on the night of the Barnes/Ford murders

On Aug. 16, 2012, three days into the investigation, detectives found a Jon boat — a small, flat-bottomed boat commonly used in swamp regions — belonging to Trauger. It had been spray painted black, and had several cinderblocks and gas cans found on board.

“He put cinder blocks in the front of the boat, and this is believed to have been a way of keeping the boat from slapping as it was being pushed through the water, and thus, drawing attention to it,” Swanson explained.

Investigators believed Trauger operated the Jon boat to Premium Time before breaking his way in and shooting Barnes and Ford. At some point, Barnes called 911, but it was already too late. Trauger then doused the boat with gasoline and set fire to Premium Time.

According to White, loved ones “lost a really wonderful person.”

Watch all-new episodes of Deadly Waters with Captain Lee , airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen .  

Deadly Waters with Captain Lee

  • Domestic Violence

Related Stories

No image available

Dj's Catalina Island Murder Leads to Montana Manhunt

Sherri Rasmussen featured on Real Murders of L.A

LAPD Detective Is Arrested for Nurse's Cold Case Murder

Krystal Kenney

Man Kills Fiancée, Then Has Mistress Clean Bloody Scene

A police handout of Timothy Haslett, Jr.

Accused Kidnapper Charged with Murdering Jaynie Crosdale

Coley Mccraney featured on Sins Of The South Episode 110

Alabama Minister Convicted of Murdering Two 17-Year-Olds

Thomas Burchard featured on Snapped episode 3402

Playboy Model Helps Kill Her “Sugar Daddy”

Robert Neulander featured on Accident Suicide or Murder Episode 509

Prominent Doctor Arrested in Wife's Horrific Murder

A booking photo of Gary Schara

Man Confesses to 24-Year-Old's Tragic Murder in Letter

Kay, Jan Kruse's sister featured on Dateline Secrets Uncovered 1306

Who Killed Beloved Minnesota Mom Jan Kruse in Her Bed?

Mugshots of Chris Tomlinson and Nicole Thornhill featured on Snapped Season 34 Episode 1.

Florida Teen and Wiccan Boyfriend Kill Her Stepfather

Karen Leclair featured on Deadly Waters with Captain Lee Season 1 Episode 7.

What Happened to a Woman Who Disappeared on Lake Erie?

Kelli Bordeaux smiles in Sins of the South Season 1 Episode 9.

Sex Offender Beat Army Medic to Death in "Violent Attack"

Deadlywaterswithcaptainlee S1 Web Dynamiclead Desktop 1920x1080

Latest Videos

Steven B. Williams Friends and Family Discuss His Life

Steven B. Williams Friends and Family Discuss His Life

Medical Examiner Finds Bullet Hole in Drowning Victim

Medical Examiner Finds Bullet Hole in Drowning Victim

Steven B. Williams Inherited $2 Million Shortly Before His Death

Steven B. Williams Inherited $2 Million Shortly Before His Death

Recommended for you.

A police handout of Brad Compher

Cold Justice Assists in Conviction for Nori Jones' Murder

Jonathan Hoffman featured in Kill Or Be Killed episode 101

Michigan Grandma Repeatedly Shot Grandson, Killing Him

Gavin MacFarlane featured on Snapped Killer Couples Episode 1711

15-Year-Old, Boyfriend Plot Her Father's Murder

  • Share full article


How to Charter a Boat

If you want to sail off into the sunset, at least temporarily, you need to understand how to get aboard first.

An illustration of the bow of a boat with three women with flowing hair and cocktails looking over a man playing a guitar and then off in the water, four other vacationers are sunbathing on inner tubes.

By Lauren Sloss

This time of year, it’s an inevitable thought: Life would be that much better out on the water. Specifically, on a boat.

Even if you have neither a boat nor boating experience, it’s never been easier to make your nautical dreams come true — whether you want a day trip on your local lake or a fully staffed multiday voyage in a far-flung locale. Here are the initial questions that will help you plan an adventure on the water.

Whom are you traveling with?

Thinking about the size and dynamic of your group is an important first step, even if you are simply going on a day trip. Will children be on board? How old? What about elderly parents?

Dan Lockyer, the chief commercial officer of Dream Yacht Worldwide , strongly encourages travelers to determine group size — and, ideally, get people committed — before booking.

“The location that you want to go to, the time of year that you want to go, the type of boat that you want will entirely depend on the makeup of the group that you’re sailing with,” Mr. Lockyer said.

Do you want to captain, or do you want a captain?

Different charter companies specialize in certain locations, types of boats, itineraries and services. Some companies offer the opportunity for a “bareboat” charter, in which you rent the boat and take on the navigation and provisioning yourself, while others exclusively offer fully staffed options, including a captain and a cook.

If you want to captain the boat yourself, almost all outfits require some kind of proof of sailing or boating experience, often in line with local regulations.

Edward King, 45, an executive at a streaming company based in San Francisco, is experienced in sailing the city’s waterways. But on vacation, he said he would prefer to let a captain and crew take the lead.

Mr. King said he appreciates a captain who is familiar with both the local waters — “they’ll know how to avoid sailing into a certain sandbar,” he said, — as well as the local attractions.

In contrast, Matt Blake, 38, a software engineer based in Oakland, Calif., was eager to grow his sailing experience during a recent trip to La Paz, Mexico, with his fiancée. He hired a captain but made clear that the captain was there to help and teach.

Where do you want to go?

“Do you want something that’s more culturally oriented? Nature oriented? An adventure trip?” asked Mary Curry, the voyage product director of Adventure Life , which offers small group tours and private trips on land and on water around the world.

That answer can determine your destination. Popular cruising grounds include the Caribbean, Croatia, Alaska and French Polynesia, but the sky — or the sea — is really the limit. For help narrowing your focus, travel advisers often have relationships with charter companies or outfits around the world, and sailing publications offer recommendations.

Kyla Malkani, who has had experience with charters working as a destination wedding planner, recommends consulting the concierge of waterfront hotels, particularly for short-term or day rentals.

“A lot of times they will have either their own fleet or they will have some sort of connection at a dock,” said Ms. Malkani, 37, who is based in Washington, D.C., and is currently working as a content creator and freelance event planner.

What kind of boat?

Where you want to travel and for how long will likely determine the kinds of boats that are available to you. Crucial at this point, too, is an understanding of the boat’s layout and amenities.

“You definitely want to choose the right kind of boat,” said Ms. Malkani. “If you want more adventure, a sailboat is nice. If you’re looking for a luxury party environment, a yacht is best. And if you’re looking for something smooth, for older people or with kids, a catamaran is great.”

David Barclay is a luxury travel adviser who has also chartered boats for his own vacations.

“You want to match what the travelers want to what the boat offers,” he said.

Perhaps a group of friends might not mind a catamaran with functional but not luxurious marine bathrooms, but a multigenerational group might prefer more high-touch amenities.

When should I book?

Often, charter trips are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that require a great deal of advanced planning.

“You may have a specific place you want to go, or a specific time of year you want to travel,” said Mr. Barclay. “And some places just aren’t good at certain times of year.”

Naturally, you don’t want to be at sea in the Caribbean during hurricane season, or in the Mediterranean during winter storms. But you also might want to avoid peak cruising seasons, too.

The first three weeks of August are quite popular, said Mr. Lockyer. “If you have some flexibility and can travel in early July, you’ll get the same sort of great weather, a greater selection of boats and the anchorages won’t be as crowded.”

How much does it cost?

Charter costs are incredibly variable, dependent on all of the factors coming into play: your boat type and size, your destination, your group size, the amount of crew you’d like and the amenities on board. That said, costs could range anywhere from $2,000 for a day on a sailboat to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a multiday mega-yacht charter. Have a budget in mind when beginning your research process.

What if I didn’t plan far in advance?

While advanced planning is encouraged, and often necessary for bigger boat trips, it’s possible to book a boat last-minute.

Boatsetter , an Airbnb-like platform for boats, is a good resource for last-minute bookings, especially for day trips, and even has an Instant Book option for down-to-the-wire bookings.

“If it’s for a special event, or around major holidays, you may want to book a month or two in advance. But for general bookings, you can find options within a week or two,” said Kim Koditek, Boatsetter’s head of brand strategy and communications, of the company’s overnight offerings, which appear on their platform under the luxury yacht charters category .

Ms. Malkani has used Boatsetter for some of her charters, most of which have been booked with a specific goal in mind.

“I’m a sunset chaser,” she said. “My husband and I just really love being on the water, and we always try to squeeze in some sort of boat day activity when we’re traveling.”

For more travel advice, visit our collection of Travel 101 tips and hacks.

Come Sail Away

Love them or hate them, cruises can provide a unique perspective on travel..

 Cruise Ship Surprises: Here are five unexpected features on ships , some of which you hopefully won’t discover on your own.

 Icon of the Seas: Our reporter joined thousands of passengers on the inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas . The most surprising thing she found? Some actual peace and quiet .

Th ree-Year Cruise, Unraveled:  The Life at Sea cruise was supposed to be the ultimate bucket-list experience : 382 port calls over 1,095 days. Here’s why  those who signed up are seeking fraud charges  instead.

TikTok’s Favorite New ‘Reality Show’:  People on social media have turned the unwitting passengers of a nine-month world cruise  into  “cast members”  overnight.

Dipping Their Toes: Younger generations of travelers are venturing onto ships for the first time . Many are saving money.

Cult Cruisers: These devoted cruise fanatics, most of them retirees, have one main goal: to almost never touch dry land .


  1. How to Acquire Your Boat Captain's License in Florida

    Proof of U.S citizenship or Green Card. Complete your application form (CG Form 719B) Once you complete your application, you will need to pay your application fee and provide proof that you have paid this fee. Proof that you have completed and passed your captain's exam. A copy of your TWIC card and if your application to obtain your TWIC ...

  2. How to Get Your Captain's License -A Step-by-Step Guide

    The Basics of a Captain's License. A first time applicant will need to decide while type of license to pursue. There are two types available to one applying for a new license. You may apply for a license to be an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) or the more familiar "Six Pack" license.

  3. US Coast Guard (USCG) Approved Captain's License Courses

    Our Top USCG Captain's Courses. OUPV/Six-Pack Captain's License - Online Course and Exam $695.00. 4.7. 25/50 or 100-Ton Master Captain's License - Online Course and Exam $895.00. 4.7. OUPV/Six-Pack Upgrade to 25/50 or 100-Ton Master Captain's License - Online Course and Exam $375.00. 4.7.

  4. Nonprofit Boating and Maritime School

    Since its inception, the School has grown from a single vessel to a modern campus of classrooms, labs, dormitories, and large training fleet. The Chapman School is a world-renowned boat school that encompasses 9 waterfront acres in South Florida, located just minutes by water from both the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and the Atlantic Ocean.

  5. Maritime Courses and Captains Licenses Training in Florida

    MTC Maritime Training Center is Florida's premier maritime courses and captain's license training academy located in Tampa. Our goal is to provide each student with an amazing training experience at our state of the art facility. Students here at MTC Maritime Training Center receive free guidance on the next steps it takes to receive your ...

  6. At The Helm Training

    Our expert team of USCG-licensed captains are ready to help you chart your course. Connect with us today! Join At The Helm Training for USCG accredited boating courses. Discover hands-on training with experienced captains and learn boat safety in Florida today!

  7. How To Get Your Captains License In Florida

    To qualify for a Master License in Florida, you must meet the following : Being at least 19 years old. Accumulating a minimum of 360 days of boating experience, with 90 of those days occurring within the last three years. Holding a valid OUPV license for at least one year. Passing a comprehensive background check.

  8. Captains License Florida

    The #1 location for Captain License Courses in Florida. We at MTC Maritime Training Center have a multitude of Captains Courses located in Tampa, Florida. Our central location makes taking one of our courses just a short drive away. We cater to all mariners from Tugboats, to Yachts to Offshore Supply Vessel, all the way up to an Unlimited ...

  9. Boat Captain's License Guide

    Being a captain in specific industries can lead to some unbelievable — and free — traveling. If you work your way up to being the captain of commercial vessels, who knows where you might get to travel and what you might get to see out on the water. 3. Free Food and Accommodation. As long as you're aboard, your meals won't cost you a dime.

  10. Mariners Learning System: USCG Captain's Licensing Online

    Mariners provides flexible and convenient boat captain course training so you can learn on your schedule, not ours. Take your final licensing exam online and on-demand. Start with our OUPV/Six-Pack License for up to 6 passengers, or if captaining a large vessel, check out our 25/50 or 100-Ton Masters.


    CAPTAIN'S LICENSE. We recommend that you get the best license you qualify for! WHY GET A CAPTAIN'S LICENSE? Under Construction . This will be updated shortly. Thanks for your patience. ASK OUR TEAM. ... Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 +1-954-525-1014 +1-888-839-5025 (Toll Free)

  12. USCG Captains Course

    Our boat Captains blended course is completed online followed by 3 days of classroom training and examinations. ... USCG Approved Captains Course OUPV (6-Pack) and 100 Ton Captain. Seven Seas Prep - Boat Captains Course . ... FL, 32920, United States. 4077488302 [email protected]. Hours. Mon All Day. Tue All Day. Wed All Day.

  13. What the FWC Saltwater Charter License authorizes:

    Call 1-888-427-5662 for information on the Coast Guard Captain's license. USCG charter boat captain information is available on the USCG web site. The FWC Charter Captain and Charter Boat licenses and commercial registration can only be purchased at tax collector's office throughout Florida.

  14. What are the Requirements for Earning a Captain's License

    Important sea service requirements for Master Inland/GL: Must be at least 19 years old. Must be able to document 360 days of experience on a vessel. (See: What Counts as Sea Service) 90 days of sea service must be within the last 3 years of when you apply. The tonnage of the license (25 Ton, 50 Ton, or 100 Ton) that you get, is determined by ...

  15. How to Get Your Captain's License in Florida

    The address is: U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Regional Examination Center Claude Pepper Federal Building 51 SW 1st Ave., 6th Floor Miami, FL 33130-1608. If you want to be a charter captain in Florida, you have to have a license issued by the United States Coast Guard as an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels.

  16. Yacht Crew Training Courses & School

    We provide the Fort Lauderdale yacht crew training courses you require for MCA compliance and which are widely accepted for the private and commercial operations of both power & sailing yachts up to 3000 gross tons. The accreditation is widely recognized by all major yacht regulatory bureaus, insurance companies, as well as charter & management ...

  17. The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Licensed Boat Captain

    The Definitive Guide. Becoming a boat captain is a dream shared by many for a variety of reasons, both personal and financial. Take the first step toward getting your license today with our definitive guide! This free eBook on Captain's Licenses will provide insight and information to help you easily navigate the licensing process.

  18. How to Become a Yacht Captain

    The captain must hold a license that is commensurate with the gross tonnage of the vessel and approved by the flag state. In addition, the yacht's insurance company needs to be comfortable with the candidate's experience and license and approve the hire. This is understandable when you consider that the underwriter is the biggest financial ...

  19. How to Become a Yacht Captain- An Expert's Handbook

    Yacht Captain Salary. The below super yacht Captain salary guideline is based on my personal research using an average of over 10 major yachting platforms: 20m-30m: $4000-$7500 p/m. 30m-40m: $5500-$9500 p/m. 40m-50m: $8000-$15000 p/m. 50m-70m: $13000-$19000 p/m. 70m+: $16500+ p/m.

  20. How to Get a Boating Captain's License

    A head boat captain will need this license type. Spend Time on the Water. One of the main requirements of a boat captain's license is spending enough time on the water. To qualify for an OUPV License, you need 360 days of crewing or piloting a boat. At least 90 of those days have to be in the last three years.

  21. Do You Need a Captain's License to Drive a Boat in Florida?

    These are just a few ways to capitalize on your captain's license within Florida. Captains have also reported a discount on their yearly insurance premiums, anywhere from 10-30%, for holding a captain's license. Depending on the size of the boat or the nature of the work, some insurance companies may require you to have a captain's license.

  22. International Yacht and Maritime Training

    IYT operates more boating courses with more government approvals through more schools, in more countries and in more languages than any other boating organization in the world. We are proudly ISO 9001:2015 approved. International Yacht Training Worldwide is the global leader in International Certificate of Competence, Superyacht Crew training ...

  23. How to Become a Boat Captain in Florida

    In this article, we will guide you through the process of becoming a boat captain in Florida and answer some frequently asked questions. Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirements To become a boat captain in Florida, you must meet certain criteria set by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The first requirement is being at least 18 years old.

  24. How to Navigate Multifamily as a Yacht Captain

    🔥Live Podcast Alert 🔥Scott Kidd has over 25 years of maritime experience, including new builds, refits, project management and yacht management.He is a lic...

  25. Charter Captains Say the 'Taxman' Is Out of Control as Shark

    Another longtime and respected Florida guide, Capt. Lenny Moffo remembers holding an estimated 100-pound tarpon boat side one time so his client could get a photo. Moffo pulled the tarpon's head up as the picture was snapped, but as soon as he released the fish there was an explosion of water, blood, and scales as a shark devoured the trophy ...

  26. Watch Carnage on Catalina

    Three missing fingers point to the identity of a body found off the coast of Catalina Island, plunging authorities into the mysterious investigation of a wealthy mogul, luxurious yacht and a manhunt for a killer hiding in an unlikely place.

  27. What Happened to Janette Piro, Chris Bebedetto? Murders, Explained

    Demonstranti said he heard Benedetto say "Grab the rods" before leaving in the boat, though Demonstranti didn't find anything unusual about the situation at the time. "So, a couple of hours later, Chris's boat came back. It parked just the way it always parked, but the person in the boat wasn't Chris," Demonstranti told Deadly Waters.

  28. A Tight Ship

    A short boat ride away is one of Florida's most historic marinas — Bahia Mar Yachting Center, which is the main hub for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and even a literary landmark. (A bronze plaque is dedicated to the housboat of a character who lived at Bahia Mar invented by mystery writer John D. MacDonald.)

  29. Who Killed Karen Barnes, Larry Ford in Georgia Boat Fire?

    It all began on August 12, 2012, on a blackwater river in the city of St. Mary's, about 40 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida. Camden County dispatchers received what marine journalist Peter Swanson called a "haunting" 911 call at about 3:00 a.m., hearing the muffled moans and screams of an unknown person, as obtained and published by Deadly Waters with Captain Lee, airing Saturdays at ...

  30. How to Charter a Boat

    If you want to captain the boat yourself, almost all outfits require some kind of proof of sailing or boating experience, often in line with local regulations. Edward King, 45, an executive at a ...