become a captain

How Becoming a Charter Boat Captain is Easier than Ever

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 24, 2019

Last Updated on September 29, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Learn Some of the Best Ways to Make Money as a Captain

If you really love being out on the water and dealing with a wide variety of boating conditions, why not get paid for it? Especially if you already own a boat and plan on making it available for rent through Boatsetter, it might be a great idea for you to become a captain and personally take paying customers out on the water. Getting a captain’s license is actually not that difficult. You do have to take a course (usually up to 10 days that can be spread out over a few weeks), spend a fair amount of money upfront (no more than $800), and fill out a few standard documents showing that you are at least 18 years of age and in reasonably good health, but that is about all it takes. After you have received your license, you can easily recoup your captain’s license fees in just one weekend when you captain a boat charter. At Boatsetter, you can captain a boat rental of your own vessel or of somebody else’s vessel. We’re here to show you how to make money as a captain.

All Aboard! Why not Captain a Boat Charter?

When you captain a boat charter, you offer people the chance to experience things like big game fishing, sightseeing, and new water sports. Especially if you live near a resort or vacation destination like Miami, there will always be thousands of customers in need of your expertise. You will also have the opportunity of meeting all kinds of people from all over the world, so it is a great way of expanding and extending your boating network. Another great thing about this is that you can refer an owner in the future and make even more money through Boatsetter’s expansive network.

With Boatsetter, people can rent boats from private owners. If you learn how to become a captain, you can create a nice side hustle that you also enjoy. Often, Boatsetter customers are inexperienced boaters and they really need a licensed and knowledgeable captain to introduce them to the world of boating and allow them to relax and enjoy their trip. This is where you as a boat captain can be an invaluable resource.

The Process: How to Become a Captain

Much like when you are learning to drive a car, you will first need to earn a license before you can legally captain a boat charter. For this, it is necessary to apply through the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Check out their website for more specific information. In general, obtaining a license is not that difficult. It is usually based upon the following criteria:

  • The total number of days you have sailed
  • The types of waters you have sailed upon
  • The total tonnage of your vessel

Your charter boat captain license qualifies you with a Merchant Mariners Credential, which is a combination of the former Merchant Marine Officers license and Merchant Mariners Document. The actual license appears in a small book that looks fairly similar to a passport. In general, there are four main types of charter boat captain licenses that you can get:

  1. Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vehicles License (OUPV)

Also called a 6-Pack License, this is one of the most popular types of boat captain license. You can apply for this if your boat is less than 65 feet and if you carry a maximum of six passengers. You need to have at 360 days of experience on inland or coastal waterways, and the purpose of this license would be to conduct fishing, diving or sightseeing trips.

  1. OUPV Limited Credential

Also known as a “launchtender’s license,” this has a limited purpose. Generally, it can be used to operate uninspected vessels for a short period of time. A good way to use this license would be to transport people to and from a dock to a bigger boat anchored further out in the water. To apply for this license, you need at least 90 days of experience. You will also need to complete a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved Safe Boating Course.

  1. Limited Master Credential

If your boat has passed the US Coast Guard inspection and if you have earned an inspection sticker, you should apply for this type of license. It requires 120 days of service as well as a completed USCG-approved Safe Boating Course. Your license can be extended to include sailing vessels if you have also completed 120 days of service on a sailboat.

  1. Master, 100 Tons Credential

You can use this license to operate all vessels up to 100 tons, and there are no restrictions in terms of the number of passengers you are allowed on board. To apply for this license, you must have at least 360 days of service on any vessel. There is a separate exam if you would like to qualify for a towboat assistance license.

Preparing for and Passing the Captain’s License Exam

There are three general areas of knowledge in this exam: coastal navigation, deck knowledge, and “rules of the road.” The questions will cover important aspects like boat terminology and general safety, the use of lights and sound signals, as well as a few questions about tides, nautical charts, and local boating regulations. There are some sample questions and practice tests online. It is a good idea to do as much research as possible before you apply for the exam. Much like driving a car, you should already know most of the information in the test. To receive your license, you will need to score at least 70% on the general portion of the test and at least 90% on the Rules of the Road section.

Taking Advantage of so Many Other Good Opportunities!

In addition to the boat rental opportunities offered through Boatsetter, as a charter boat captain you might be able to line up quite a lot of other paid assignments. You can captain fishing charters and sightseeing tours in beautiful locations, lead snorkeling and diving trips, be in charge of sunset and dinner cruises, help companies like Sea Tow or Tow Boat U.S. tow broken-down vessels, or even operate informal water ferry services between two nearby locations in your own hometown. Check out some of the cheapest ways to travel around the world by boat. Captain’s licenses generally last for five years or more, which is a lot of time for you to be earning extra money from your own boat, an expensive asset that you have already paid for.

So, do you think you’re ready to become a Boatsetter captain? All you have to do is answer some questions and fill in a few forms on our website. Always remember that you can captain a boat rental of your own boat or of somebody else’s boat. Sign up today and get ready for a whole lot of paid adventures over the next few years!

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