I came back to Seattle on the first of March to take celestial navigation for the second time at PMI, because even though I took it once before more than two years ago, by the time I was ready to take license exams in the fall of ’12 I had forgotten everything I had learned about celestial a year prior and instead of testing for a 500-ton mate oceans, I settled for just the 1600 near coastal. I knew at the time I was making a mistake taking the easy way out, especially considering that my current job requires that I hold an oceans endorsement. But in January I applied for my 1600-ton ocean master and now I am waiting for approval to test, so it all evens out in the end. Because the government shutdown last October created a huge backlog in coast guard license application processing, I have no idea how much longer I will have to wait for that letter to arrive; I had a few friends who had applications pending while the furlough was happening, and I can’t imagine how frustrated they must have been!
Thanks to the awesome people at PMI, I’m definitely ready to tackle at least the celestial navigation problems. The next month of work, starting with a routine crew-up this Saturday, will consist of daily shipboard study – crunching nav problems, polishing up on rules of the road, staring at Murphy’s books every afternoon – and I’m hoping that by my next crew-off date I’ll be calling West Virginia for an appointment to sit for exams at the Seattle REC in April. Since I’m never home to actually receive the mail, the PO box I share with my mom (de facto personal assistant and unsung hero) will be closely watched for a letter from the NMC.
I’m not very good at studying on the boat; it usually feels like enough work each day to do chart corrections and voyage plans and collision avoidance and keep an eye on the tow wires and the barge, plus spend an extra hour most afternoons learning how to fill out the endless paperwork that we have to turn in at the end of each trip. When I get off watch I usually want to go to my room and do nothing. I’ve never understood how some guys manage to study for license exams while they’re out on the boat, but I’ll have to figure it out because I don’t want to lose any more time leading up to this license upgrade; when I had the sea days to sit for my mate’s, I stalled out on several unfinished projects for school and lost several months!
A note on the newest class of workboat cadets at PMI: what a great group of like-minded people. I got to talk to them at their orientation on March 3rd in Seattle and give them a little advice. I remember myself in their position four years ago, and it sounded to me like each one of them has a solid opportunity at each of their respective companies to learn what they need to know and succeed in their on-the-job training, as well as to make new friends in the classroom. I am so excited for them and wish them the best of luck.