Learning how to become a sailing captain is easy if your understand the national regulations for licensed captains. And, it's not hard, although it does take a while, to get your sailing captain license.
- In order to get become a sailing captain, per national law, you must log 360 days on a boat on the water. This means that you must keep careful records of the time you spend on the water. A "day" is defined as at least four hours, and you may not have more that one "day" within 24 hours. So, if you're on the water eight hours, that will only count as one day unless you stay overnight and four hours are on the second day. You must get all your 360 days within a five year span.
- Get hours by working as a mate on a boat, a maid or blackjack dealer on a cruise ship. Any job on a boat on the water counts toward your 360 days. If you're on a ship with a licensed captain, the captain must sign off on your documentation. However, if you own your own boat, you can qualify yourself simply by keeping a log boat of your time on the water.
- Purchase and study for the official Coast Guard issued exam. The exam is not an easy test to pass so set aside some time every day to study the test materials.
- After you fulfill your hours on the water and are comfortable with the captain test material, contact your local Coast Guard office to schedule for the exam. Set aside a full day as the exam is exhaustive and will take a few hours to complete.
- Provided you pass the Coast Guard exam, you will receive your captain's license in the mail. Congratulations!