Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I PASSED! It was easier than I expected in some ways, and other questions were so foreign to me, my stomach hurt.

I got to the testing center about a half hour early, out of nerves. So I sat on a bench out front and forced myself to read a book. When I went in, there was another test taker there as well. He was on day 3 of testing, and taking at least 2 or 3 tests per day. I don't know what his license was for, but it was obviously a lot more intense than mine! He had graph paper, charts, a calculator and a compass at his table.

The test was the same one that one of my coworkers had taken, and in fact had taken most recently. Our boss made sure that both of the guys sat down and wrote out as many questions and topics that they could remember from their tests. I'm extremely lucky that I ended up with the exact same test B had taken. His was the only test that had questions about anchors, and particular questions about navigating in bad weather. Of course, neither topics matter, since we don't have an anchor, and we don't navigate! Regardless, I made sure to study up on those topics and did really well.

I got a 87%, I missed 5 out of 40 questions. A 70% was required to pass. Afterward, texting with one of the other new guys who just got his license, he said that I did much better than either of them. I'm a bit proud, I can't help it. I mean, questions like:

The only type of vessel permitted to operate with flashing blue lights is ______________ (police and emergency vessels).

What length of anchor line is best suitable for moderate winds and currents? (5x the depth of water in soft ground)

A vessel is significantly to your forward starboard and you see a red sidelight. What is your course of action? (continue at same speed).

None of these things matter when operating the ferry. It's all bizarre topics that I'm required to know for this one moment in time, so I can pass this exam. Regardless, I was a dutiful student, read through the huge book several times and memorized whatever I could. And it worked!

When I was sitting there as he graded my exam, I was extremely nervous. I knew I missed at least 4 or 5, but I was worried that I'd missed more than that. Plus, I hadn't done the math to realizes I could miss 12 questions and still pass. If I'd realized that, I would have been more relaxed. When I was told I passed, I felt like I could breathe again, I must have been holding my breath.

My license should come in the mail in about a week. Knowing my track record with the Coast Guard so far, I'm afraid of it taking longer. It's possible that I'll be on the boat for my first solo shift next Wednesday. If not Wednesday, it'll be the following Sunday. My shift, my work week, is Sunday through Wednesday, another operator works Thursday through Saturday. So no matter what, I've got no more than a week and a half left of "shop days." They're starting to get extremely dull. For the rest of the week, I'll be assisting my boss and another guy as they move into different offices. Painting, moving furniture, filing. Basically grunt work and filling time. Which is fine. I mind it a heck of a lot less now that I'll be moving onto the boat very soon!

And hell, maybe I'll be move on in general. I'm interviewing on Thursday in Portland for a great job, and I just saw a really good job open up in Salem that I'm going to apply for. The future is looking pretty damn bright!

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