Que : Is it Accredited?

Ans : YES, by AMSA and ASQA.

On the AMSA website "Registered Training Organisations approved to conduct AMPA" you can see us listed in the WA section ( ) because thats where our office is, however we we can train and assess in all states as per the national training regulator website - - if you look at the SCOPE page you will see they have ticked every box of every state.

So yes it (and we) tick all the boxes and the course and qualifications are nationally accredited.
Chat / Talk to me

Frequently Asked Question #3 : Please call me / I want a quick chat / I want to talk to someone about some things.

Answer : We answer in writing. Always. It is a correspondence course and we are experts at corresponding. Unlike most salesmen who prefer to talk and say answers that they can later deny, we prefer to put all our answers in writing, so you have the facts.

We believe it is not as good to answer questions on the phone because too many times this can result in misheard things and later on a person can have the old problem of... “but I THOUGHT you said…” With written answers, that cannot happen.

So we do not "say” anything until the day that we are face to face with students doing the final day of practical and assessments. I am happy to send written answers to you as we both can check what I wrote and there can be no confusion. Also written answers only take me a few seconds or even a minute at max to send to you, so I can get to everyone every day. That would be impossible by phone and we don’t want to use a call center or some receptionist who doesn’t know anything. I personally deal with every single one of our 4000 students, in writing, to make sure they get the correct answers, but to do that verbally would be impossible.

It seems most people ask the exact same things, so I would have to then say the same thing over and over and over to student after student if I answered voice calls. It makes sense to save our voices for when I am face to face with students. If the answer isn't in our FAQ, please email me and tell me and I will reply to you and add it to our FAQ.

Because it is a correspondence theory course all things are done by question and answer in written workbooks, and any questions that students have asked for the past ten years have all been answered in writing.

All answers are here in the FAQ.

If not, please ask in writing and I can answer your questions 7 days a week day or night, that way I can answer more students and you get better answers.

If you are a students and you REALLY hate written answers, then perhaps you should not be doing a blended online plus correspondence course, and you may prefer and be better off spending weeks and weeks sitting in a classroom at somewhere like TAFE where you can chat and talk and listen as much as you want to a classroom full of people. However most people don’t have the time for that, and want our flexible way of doing things at home, and likewise we don’t have time to chat to every single student. We are providing for the sort of people who don’t like the way other RTO's do it (they spend more monmey on admin and make cuts to training staff), we focus on providing a much needed service customised to a particular need, for those that want written answers.

But we do chat on the final day, thats when we focus on face to face and you get proper verbal time then. Unlike TAFE who will have 10-20 in a class, you will find that we usually have only 1 student and sometimes 2, with 1 trainer. That's because we do it all in writing, because we do less admin and phone calls and do more in writing. We REALLY want to give you the best possible answers. Sorry if this offends you, it is not personal, we are not trying to avoid talking to you - we just have a way of doing this so that it works for us and for you. If you really want to ‘chat’ and do not want to ask questions in writing, perhaps call an RTO that has more office workers and more government subsidy perhaps or which focuses on chatting to students rather than training them. EVERY thing is a balance, and the more they spend in one area, the less you get in another.

So if you have a real question, please write it down, and it will be properly answered, in writing.

Cost to Send a Trainer to Me

Que : What additional cost would be to fly a trainer to X location?

Ans : We do not charge for this, what we do is leave transport and accomodation up to the client.

Each time we do assessments anywhere in Australia outside our main Woodman Point location, the client arranges everything ex Perth to the client and back. i.e. the client books and pays for flights accomodation meals etc at whatever place or in whatever hotel, motel, workers camp etc the client owns or has booked and makes available.

If it is not so far, then you can arrange for a trainer to drive to your location. eg Bunbury, Albany, Bremer Bay etc. If a trainer needs to do a liferaft exercise (i.e. you are doing Coxswain Grade 1) then the trainer will need to drive to you as liferafts cannot go in aircraft. Cost for a trainer to drive to you will be invoiced to you by the Admin staff. Usually it is based on the RAC vehicle cost per km, but check with Admin for a quote of the cost.

Hours taken Classroom

Que : Is there a classroom option, will I be able to do it?

Ans : We don’t do the classroom course any longer as it was a waste of time to our students who seem to be self starters, with self motivation and the ability to study alone.

We have only met one person that could not do our course. Actually I think he could, but he seemed pretty lazy and just wanted to buy it. We don’t sell it, you have to work at it, but if you work at it, we will work with you every day if needed, until you get it finished. The course has been written for workers, by workers. We have labourers and non academics doing it every week. If you can read, can operate a computer to watch videos and open files that are on the USB, you will be fine.

The more difficult levels going up to the Masters can sometimes need a trainer if people have serious literacy and reading and maths problems, but at this basic level, it is simply a matter of starting at the start and working through one question at a time.

Any problems you have, just email and we will answer. Its a correspondence course, so correspond, every time you need help.

TAFE and many others do the course in a classroom and it takes far far far more of your time.
On average TAFE Coxswain students spend about 3 days per unit, i.e. 20 hours per unit, or full time the units for the full coxswains are done over 4 weeks and that is 8 hours a day every day. So that is 35 hours per week for 4 weeks in class plus you are expected to do at least an additional 15 hours/week of self-directed study, which they say include research, written paper assignments and online assessments.
TAFE usually say it will take you 200 hours of your time.

We do only the self directed study. Although this is a non-pre-requisite course, the additional hours at TAFE will vary due to the foundation skills and previous maritime experience of the student, which is the same as ours.

We have designed the course to be done at your own speed, so if you get the books and watch the videos and sit at a table, you can go as fast or as slow as you want.
The big difference being that if you sit in a classroom and do the course, you will get a certificate but not be guaranteed to pass the Coxswains final oral exam. However everyone that does our course passes the final AMSA oral exam. We have a higher % of our students actually finishing and working than any other ‘in classroom’ course. Sometimes unemployed people or kids straight out of school go to the TAFE course and they have a huge failure and dropout rate, whereas we aim to actually end up with workers that will be competent to work in our industry.

Make a start and let me know when you have a problem. Ignore the page numbers in the book as the page numbers are different for every single reference book. Don’t shortcut, start at the Study Book and do what it says and you all spend less time than sitting in a classroom.

The final assessment and whatever practical you need is usually only 1-2 days, mainly because we do it 1 on 1 mostly, and so it depends on your abilities and competence. There is less time wasted and more focus on you, not on the slowest person in the group, because there is no huge group such as TAFE etc will have.

Study is done via a correspondence ‘Kit’ that gets sent to you and you use that Kit to evaluate what you do, and don’t know, and then to learn what you don’t know.
We provide support and correspondence, as well as written info, videos etc and work with you through the kit until you are ready for final practical and assessment.

You can take up to 6 months to complete the course and assessment, if you need it.

There is no set required classroom time (such as places such as TAFE sometimes have) as we don’t get funded according to how many hours you waste sitting in a seat - we focus on you getting to the required standard of Knowledge (i.e. theory) and skills (practical) competence, customising the course to suit you personally, so that you can be a useful Coxswain in a real workplace. You don’t learn every thing you will ever need, but you will know what the Training Package requires and what is needed in a a real workplace.

Short answer - we don’t. Usually. We ‘can’ in theory, but we advise students that if they want to sit in a classroom, the place that specialise in that is Challenger TAFE, I think they call themselves South Metropolitan now.

They only hold courses when there are at least 8 students all able to do it on the same dates.

We never ever have that many students all doing it at the same time, as most of our students are working people who cannot afford the time to sit in a classroom for a month. They have to have enough students in the classroom to pay for the trainers wage for a month, plus the building rent and power etc for the month, plus all other costs. and they get government finds and grants etc etc - thats how they can do it. With us doing it on demand, 7 days a week, whenever and wherever students want, it results in there almost never ever being more than 1 students per day. If a student wanted to pay what it costs, we would have to do it, but the cost it exorbitant, so we suggest they do it at TAFE, where it is far cheaper because of the method they use.

How Difficult?

Que : How Difficult is the course?

Ans : It is made for labourers, seriously, the ones that seem to struggle the most are academics. Seriously, academics struggle with the real world and this course is made for the real world. Most of our students are academics however and so this is a great introduction to them about how boating really is.

This course is written primarily for boat crews and ‘workers’ and not academics, and this seems to cause most problems to smarter persons because these people often read too much into things and look for complications and perfection, as this is what their job usually requires of them - but that is not what is needed in this course. Just read (and learn where necessary) the chapters needed from the book/s, then answer the questions.

If you have been boating, as most of our students have, then most can answer most questions off the top of their head, and even for those items where you need to look online, these are usually the most obvious answer. If you have followed the course instructions from the start, read the Study booklet, read the chapters in the ABM and the Small Ships Manual (whatever version) the answers are usually very obvious. The biggest problem that most academics, and (smarter people) particularly those with very precise jobs such as research etc, they have a big problem getting over the fact that the page numbers don't always match up for every single version of Small Ships Manual and ABM. There are 5 ABM versions and 6 Small Ships versions - and we are not editing the pages as V7 Small Ships Manual is expected out any day now, and we will then update it to suit that new version. We could always just remove the page numbers and say - read the entire chapter, or use the index, but we seem to have found a balance between helping and not actually doing it all for students. Its a fine line between students reading and studying, and students just looking for key words and sentences and copying it into the written book, without actually knowing the background material and learning the material.

Sometimes what happens, usually with the smartest people that do the course, is that they tend to not pre-read the study material and chapters or pages that it says to read, often they don't follow the instructions and so forth, but they jump straight to the blank spaces and focus purely on trying to give answers to the questions to get it done, and sometimes this ‘shortcut’ leads to a long way around because they find they are focussing on page numbers and searching for the answer - rather than on first learning the content, then doing the answers. But as we have the highest completion rate for any correspondence course, and are in the top 5% of all RTOs in Australia according to the National Regulator, based on their research and their statistics - it seems to work.

This is not an exercise in whether people can find a page number in a reference and can transcribe what they read into the blank spaces. The students should read the chapters, understand, learn and then dont need the page numbers to write the correct answers. I have personally done 5 of the coxswains courses on offer around Australia and so far as the end result and the student outcome - this is the best course in Australia and the others dont give page numbers at all - they tell you to find the pages using the index.

Less academic people are perhaps more used to struggling a bit, so are used to it and dont say anything. They tend to read the chapters, study, then do the questions, whereas we find academics dive straight into the written work and generally never read the parts we say to read first. Not always, but this is an observation based on many many students.

As you are only doing Exemption 38, no you don’t need to learn all lights, as you can only operate at daytime. But you do need to know all signals.
The only flags you need to know are mentioned in the course. i.e. NC and Dive, as well as the various day shapes.

How Fast to Finish

Que : How fast can i get my Coxswain?

Ans : Thats up to you.

Are you competent in ALL aspects of the Coxswain as per the Training Package? Can you prove it? If that is true then you can do it as fast as you can prove it.

You need to show competence and we need to get evidence that you are competent.

People have taken anywhere from 10 days up to 6 months to do this.

How Many final Assessments in a day?

For companies that urgently need someone to get their Coxswain Certificate as soon as possible and start
working immediately we are authorised to issue AMSA Interim Certificates of Competency (ICoC).

We can arrange an Interim Certificate of Competency for you at a cost of $110 if you decide you will need one.

Please let us know before you come in for your Practical Day so that we can assist you to have all the requirements available for approval.

The process is described below:

To apply for an Interim Certificate of Competency, please email us a completed and all the required attachments, 
 - scroll down the page and click on New Certificate for details of those.  
You can find the ICoC form at - you will need to fill in just the Seafarer’s details on the second page of that form and submit that to us with all the other required documentation.
Part Payments

Que : Can I pay for the Coxswain Course one part at a time?

Ans : Yes, it is possible to do it in 3 smaller ‘chunks’ and pay for each chunk as you have the funds, then come in to complete the final practical after you have completed all the parts.

Take a look at the booking page for the Coxswain on

If you click on CUSTOMISE you can see 3 separate ‘groupings’ of the units of competency. You can choose any group (Coxswain Grade 3, or Grade 2 or Grade 1) and book and pay for this group only. You will receive the course content for this group, then you can come back to the booking page and book and pay for another group.

Add ons you may require are the AMPA, the RST, the SROCP or LROCP, Boat Hire and Flip Cards.

Please Note: we do not offer the HLTAID011 Provide First Aid  unit of competency, if you require this you will need to book in for that elsewhere.


Book Now, apply for a Payment Plan agreement, receive your kit after making your first payment, get started studying!

When you get to PAYMENT DETAILS, just choose OTHER when it asks you how you will pay, type PAYMENT PLAN REQUEST.

A staff member will contact you to walk you through the details of your payment plan application and credit arrangement.

Radio Exam

Que : When should I do the RADIO EXAM?

Ans : You need to have the SROCP (VHF Radio Licence) to apply for a Coxswain Grade 1 Certificate of Competency from AMSA.

It's a good idea to do your Marine Radio licence exam with us at Woodman Point a month or so prior to your Coxswains Practical date if possible, it feels good to have one part done and dusted.

Another reason for this recommendation is due to the OMC taking approximately a month to get the cards sent out to clients after their exam is completed, and if you are going to be applying to AMSA for your Coxswain Grade 1 Certificate of Competency you will need to have that as part of your application.

We are very flexible with dates for the radio exam so after you book, let us know if you would like to come in earlier to do this. It usually takes under an hour or so to complete.


Que : Can I get RPL?

Ans : If you want to apply for RPL or want to do some units but not others, or if you believe you can get Credit for some units, then you go to the page and click the CUSTOMISE button and you can then pick and choose whatever you want to do.

You can choose to do the unit as part of the course (tick on the left), or to get RPL / Credit transfer by ticking on the right. Also you can choose to not even do something if you don’t want or need it.

RPL is for any student who has not done a formal course, but knows all the material and needs assessment only.

RPL however does not mean exemption from the units if you did the unit as part of another course. What that is, is Credit Transfer, and most people blend their meanings and mix RPL with Credit Transfer.

RPL means recognition for prior learning ’somehow’ while Credit Transfer means we accept formal accredited certified training you did elsewhere.

Credit Transfer would be where one qualification or set of units are recognised as equal to another set and we give you credit for certain units while you are doing another qualification. This is Credit Transfer and we need to ensure that the Certification is all accepted by AMSa as equal and able to be credited.

Because most people don’t know the difference we go with the flow and on our booking form we call them both RPL, and a person wanting RPL, or Credit Transfer would both just click the RPL check box over to the right of the Unit.

On the booking form - Click to the left to study and be assessed in the unit, click to the right to get RPL or Credit transfer.

For us what this means is that we would need to do the necessary paperwork still, we would also need to contact the place that gave you the certification (of course we need to get it from you and verify it is able to be used for credit. We would need to assess the student as and if gaps needed to be filled and we need to comply with all the AMSA and ASQA requirements for RPL and for Credit Transfer. This process actually takes more time for us than ‘normal’ course students, but for you it means less work and you don’t have to re-learn what you already know. When we do RPL we do need to assess a student if they don’t have the accredited Certification needed to get Credit Transfer.

Sorry for such a long answer, but we need to get it right and not confuse things so we are clear in what we are talking about.

If you click the CUSTOMISE button below the Coxswain Grade 1 button, on this page - it will allow you to customise your requirements, so you can tick to do what you want and leave out what you don’t want.

Read everything carefully and it will walk you through it all.


Que : Is the ESS a prerequisite or is it included in your coxswain grade 1 or is it not necessary?

Ans : The ESS is not needed for the Coxswain, but if you do have the ESS, then you don’t have to do some units of the Coxswain, as the ESS units are the same (and more than) the similar units in the coxswain.

However if you do the Coxswain, you don’t necessarily get given the ESS, because the Coxswain units is a bit less comprehensive than the ESS units. The ESS units are needed on many big boats - hence the name Elements of Shipboard Safety.

ESS = Elements of ShipBoard Safety

This is a Skill Set and is 4 of the units from the MAR Training Package that make up the Coxswain course.

MARSS00008 - Shipboard Safety Skill Set

MARF027 Apply basic survival skills in the event of a vessel abandonment

MARF028 Follow procedures to minimize and fight fires on board a vessel

MARF029 Meet work health and safety requirement.

MARF030 Survive at sea using survival craft

also need a First Aid HLTAID003 in order to get the actual ESS certificate

Technically you have done the units, at the level required on a coxswain boat. Technically you have done the units and you have a RTO certificate that says you have done the units, so other RTO’s have to recognise those units and give you Credit Transfer for them. So you don’t need to do them.

However they are not done as a skill set, but as part of the coxswains so technically they cannot be called the ESS by us, as technically we don’t do that ’skill set’.

Short answer, yes the units that make up the ESS, are don’t in. The Coxswain Grade 1 course, even though we don't technically do the ESS, if you do the full coxswain Grade 1 then you did do the units and should get credit for them.

Technically people also get mixed up with ESS and STCW:

STCW10 replaced STCW95
STCW 95 is a standard created in 1995, not a course, not a Certificate nor a Competency.
STCW means = "Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping" and covers many things. The 95 is the standard year reference, as they change and get updated.

What many people call the STCW ‘course’ is usually (not always) the "Certificate of Safety Training" (CoST) that is often incorrectly referred to as "STCW95 Basic Safety Training" as it complies to the STCW95 code.

This Basic Safety Training (BST) name is also correct and this consists of four modules;

1) Basic fire-fighting (Fire),
2) Personal Survival Techniques (PST),
3) Personal Safety & Social Responsibility (PSSR)
4) Elementary first aid

The AMSA Certificate of Safety Training (CoST) is usually recognised as equal or higher than the Elements of Shipboard Safety (ESS) units required by State authorities in Australia and many companies, to work on a commercial boat or ship.

If the CoST comes from an AMSA recognised RTO, it is usually accepted as an ESS and also in turn it is accepted as being equal or higher than some of the Coxswains Units of competence.

So - a person with a STCW95 Basic Safety Training / Certificate of Safety Training, has in effect done some of the Coxswains Units meeting the requirements for the Firefighting and Survival parts of the Coxswains course.

Whilst we do the Coxswains course and the units are often accepted, they are technically not exactly the same as there are allowable variables and we choose variables relevant to Coxswains, whereas others doing the ESS, use variables more needed on bigger vessels and ships. Whilst technically at the end it is the same RTO certificate, when doing it, it comes down to what is needed and why exactly. Often the Coxswains course is sufficient, but that depends on the regulations that the vessel is operating under.

Technically we do not do the CoST / STCW95 / ESS but we do the AMSA approved Coxswain units that are often accepted instead;

MARF001 - Apply basic survival skills in the event of vessel abandonment
MARF002 - Follow procedures to minimise and fight fires on board a vessel
MARF005 - Survive at sea using survival craft ($200+GST)
MARF004 - Meet work health and safety requirements

Same units but trained differently and contextualised to the students needs.

The same units used on a ship have different needs, when those same units are trained to a person doing a Coxswain course, we have to contextualise the units to meet the needs of a Coxswain students on a typical vessel under 12m. Which means we use the same gear and circumstances that a person on a vessel under 12m will experience.

So that was the long answer.


Que : What RPL is there for IR (Integrated Rating) and other similar qualifications I already have?


People get recognition at varying amounts for these below items:

Senior First Aid
Marine Radio
ESS - Elements of Shipboard Safety
CoST - Certificate of Safety Training
IR - AMSA Integrated Rating certification
TBOSIET or any other variation on this
Confined Spaces
High Risk
Anything else AMSA approved can be looked and and often we can find RPL sections.

They are all the names of courses that include Units that come together to result in Certificates.

If the units have been trained and assessed properly via a Nationally Accredited RTO and certified via the AMSA process, we can accept many units as RPL and also as direct Credit Transfer, if all proper criteria are followed.

If you can send me the Certificates as scans, and the Statements of Attainments ore Transcripts that shows the list of Units, I can check them for you and let you know which are acceptable. Acceptable means acceptable to AMSA and to ASQA.


TYPICAL RPL / CREDIT TRANSFER for most ships crews who have done ESS etc include the below units, or units very similar or at a higher level.

MARF027 Apply basic survival skills in the event of vessel abandonment
we need:
- ESS Statement of Attainment #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name;
- Transcript issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name

MARF028 Follow procedure to minimise and fight fires on board a vessel
we need:
- ESS Statement of Attainment #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name;
- Transcript issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name

MARF029 Meet work health and safety requirements
we need:
- ESS Statement of Attainment #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name;
- Transcript issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name

MARF030 Survival at sea using survival craft
we need:
- ESS Statement of Attainment #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name;
- Transcript issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name


The Current Integrated Rating course (in 2020) is;
MAR30218 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating)
It includes the below Nationally Accredited Units that may be used as RPL for parts of the Coxswain Grade 1;

HLTAID003- Provide first aid
MARB016- Contribute to routine engine maintenance on a vessel
MARB017- Perform routine maintenance and repairs on a vessel
MARC027- Contribute to the operation of engine equipment and associated propulsion plant
MARC028- Operate deck machinery, cargo handling gear and equipment on a vessel
MARC029- Perform rigging on board a vessel
MARC030- Use and care for hand and power tools
MARC032- Perform dogging on board a vessel
MARF003- Follow vessel security procedures
MARF006- Observe personal safety and social responsibility
MARF007- Operate survival craft and other lifesaving appliances
MARF008- Prevent and fight fires on board a vessel
MARF009- Survive at sea in the event of vessel abandonment
MARF018- Assist in an emergency response
MARF019- Operate emergency equipment and apply emergency procedures
MARJ006- Follow environmental work practices
MARK005- Steer a vessel under direction of the Master
MARN007- Use seamanship skills on board a vessel
MARO005- Contribute to monitoring and controlling a safe engine watch
MARO006- Contribute to monitoring and controlling a safe navigational watch

Do you have a list of the units you did, on a certificate from the Training Organisation?
Do you have your Certificates and AMSA card?

This is what AMSA say about RPL when we are doing the AMSA Mandated Practical Assessments:

“For ESS units completed prior to 1 July 2018, (as per FAQs on conduct of final assessments by RTOs), details of the evidence of the units having been completed must be provided:
8.1. If the seafarer holds a CoC: In the ‘Notes’ section of the units concerned the assessor should insert the name of the CoC held. In the ‘Assessor comments’ on the cover of the AMPA the assessor should insert the name of the CoC held, the CoC number, date of issue, issuing authority and location. For example: Holds Coxswain Grade 2 NC #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RMS/MSQ/AMSA/etc in Sydney/Brisbane/etc. A copy of the CoC should be retained with the RTO’s copy of the AMPA.
8.2. If the seafarer does not hold a CoC: In the ‘Notes’ section of each of the units concerned the assessor should insert a note that the units have been completed prior to 1 July 2018. In the ‘Assessor comments’ on the cover of the AMPA the assessor should insert details of the evidence of the units having been completed prior to 1 July 2018. For example:
a) Holds Statement of Attainment #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name; or Transcript issued on dd/mm/yy by RTO name.
b) A copy of the evidence should be retained with the RTO’s copy of the AMPA.”


To book for RPL, what you need to do is use this booking page:

The click on the button marked CUSTOMISE

then click on RPL option for the units you want RPL

If you have any problems, please let me know.

(PS note the system is primarily set up for standard courses, so it will auto email you a bunch of emails that are set up to give info for normal full course students - so don’t get stressed, just read what you need and ignore the things that don’t seem to apply to RPL.)


Many IR that have come to us in the past have done units that correspond to coxswain units. Some are old, some new.

IR unit done - TDMMF1007B Survival at sea in the event of Vessel abandonment
= Coxswain unit MARF001 - Apply Basic survival skills in the event of a vessel abandonment

IR unit done - TDMMF1907B Operate Survival Craft and other life saving appliances
= Coxswain unit MARF005 Survival at sea using survival craft

Also the SROCP or MROCP radio ticket covers the VHF ticket that you need for the Coxswain Grade 1


To finalise this there are 2 ‘Layers’ to consider.

First layer is the course at the RTO (at the end of which you get an RTO Certificate)

Second ‘layer’ is the AMSA final process, which used to be the orals and now is an AMPA, i.e. AMSA Mandated Practical Assessment.

To get AMSA certification, you need to have passed both layers.

You need to have got the RTO Certificate from us and also passed the AMPA before you can get the AMSA Certification.

So if you have your Integrated Rating certification from AMSA, then you will have technically passed BOTH layers for those units that you did with whoever you did the IR with.

Did you get the IR certificate from AMSA? Do you have an AMSA seafarer ID / card?

If you didn't pass the second AMSA ‘layer’ then that means we can accept those units as having passed the first RTO level, but they will need to be assessed again via the AMPA and you will need to come in abnd do the ‘final’ AMSA assessment, i.e. the AMPA.

Hopefully that makes sense.

RPL vs Credit Transfer

Que : What is the difference between Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) and Credit Transfer?

Ans : Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) involves the assessment of previously unrecognised skills and knowledge a person has achieved outside formal education and training. RPL is an assessment process that assesses the individual's non formal and informal learning to determine the extent to which that individual has achieved the required competency.
Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) applies if someone has previously successfully completed the requirements for a unit of competency or module and is now required to be reassessed to ensure that the competence is being maintained. In this case no extra skill or competencies are recognised.
Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) 2013 definitions:

Credit is the value assigned for the recognition of equivalence in content and learning outcomes between different types of learning and/or qualifications. Credit reduces the amount of learning required to achieve a qualification and may be through credit transfer, articulation, recognition of prior learning or advanced standing
Credit arrangements are formal negotiated arrangements within and between issuing organisations and or accrediting authorities and are about student entitlement to credit. They may also be formal arrangements made between issuing organisations and students
Credit outcomes are the results of a process of determining a student’s application for credit or credit transfer
Credit transfer is a process that provides students with agreed and consistent credit outcomes for components of a qualification based on identified equivalence in content and learning outcomes between matched qualifications

RPL Engineer class 3

Q: Does the AMSA Marine Engineer Class 3 (Near Coastal) cover credit for any of the units of the Coxswain Grade 1 NC?

Short answer - Yes.

Long Answer, it does seem to have a lot of overlap which you will be able to get credit for. Some units you get total credit for, others just recognition of learning which means you still need to be assessed.

The first thing we need to do is to compare the while units that are on the Engineer Class 3 certificate with those on the Engineer course.

At the moment the 15 units for the Engineer Class 3 NC are:
MARE001- Communicate effectively when performing engineering duties
MARF003- Follow vessel security procedures
MARF006- Observe personal safety and social responsibility
MARF008- Prevent and fight fires on board a vessel
MARF009- Survive at sea in the event of vessel abandonment
MARF010- Work safely in confined spaces on a vessel
MARJ003- Ensure compliance with environmental management legislation
MARL002- Apply basic principles of naval architecture
MARL003- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine auxiliary boilers
MARL004- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine auxiliary machinery and equipment
MARL005- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine control systems and automation
MARL006- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine diesel engines and systems
MARL007- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine electrical systems
MARL008- Demonstrate basic knowledge of ships and ship routines
MARL009- Perform basic marine engineering calculations

The units in the Coxswain Grade 1 are:
MARN008 – Seamanship skills aboard a vessel up to 12 metres
MARK007 – Handle a vessel up to 12 metres
MARI003 – Comply with regulations … a vessel up to 12 metres
MARJ006 – Environmental work practices
MARF028 – Follow procedures to minimise and fight fires
MARF029 – Meet work Health and Safety requirements
MARC037 – Operate inboard and outboard motors
MARF027 – Survival skills in the event of vessel abandonment
MARB027 – Servicing and maintenance of main propulsion unit and auxiliary systems
MARC038 – Operate main propulsion unit and auxiliary systems
MARF030 – Survive at sea using survival craft
MARH013 – Plan and navigate a passage for a vessel up to 12 metres
plus VHF and First Aid

Comparing the two you can see some are identical, which means you get full credit for these and don’t need to redo them at all.

Two are the same numbers so have complete overlaps, so you would be able to get total credit for these two;
MARF008- Prevent and fight fires on board a vessel
MARF009- Survive at sea in the event of vessel abandonment

Many of the below Engineering UNITS would have overlapping parts (i.e. ELEMENTS) within the Coxswain units, particularly the below:
MARE001- Communicate effectively when performing engineering duties
MARF008- Prevent and fight fires on board a vessel
MARF009- Survive at sea in the event of vessel abandonment
MARF010- Work safely in confined spaces on a vessel
MARJ003- Ensure compliance with environmental management legislation
MARL004- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine auxiliary machinery and equipment
MARL005- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine control systems and automation
MARL006- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine diesel engines and systems
MARL007- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine electrical systems
MARL008- Demonstrate basic knowledge of ships and ship routines
MARL009- Perform basic marine engineering calculations

We would have to look at the unit to see what overlap there was between the environmental unit you have.
MARJ003- Ensure compliance with environmental management legislation

So far as the engineering units, I am sure you haver the requisite knowledge and would fly through it, so could apply for RPL, but that would only be RPL and not credit for certification. MEaning you would get “Recignition for Prior Learning” but not credit for prior Certification as the units certification numbers are different. i.e. what it means is you don’t have to do the full course, just the assessment, so cost is less and you can race through, but you still have to prove competence.
I am sure all these units have asp[ects, but until we go through them one by one, there is no knowing what is the same - but as the Unit numbers are not the same we cannot formally give credit, but we can give ‘recognision of the learning’ just not the assessment certification, if that makes sense.

MARL004- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine auxiliary machinery and equipment
MARL005- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine control systems and automation
MARL006- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine diesel engines and systems
MARL007- Demonstrate basic knowledge of marine electrical systems
MARL008- Demonstrate basic knowledge of ships and ship routines
MARL009- Perform basic marine engineering calculations

We can assist as much as possible as we are flexible on delivery and our system allows customisation, but of course we still need to adhere to National standards and ASQA and AMSA rules.
It is a LOT of work for us to do RPL, however it is less work for you. We do it, but it is not a tick and flick exercise as we have ot go through the entire course you have done unit by unit and element by element.


Que Do I need Seatime?
Ans You don’t need to have completed the SeaTime to do our course, you can do our course and then get the seatime later, afterwards.

AMSA need you to have done the SeaTime before they will give you the AMSA Coxswain certificate.
We have nothing to do with SeaTime assessment.
AMSA assess it.

Que How much sea time do I need?
Ans Coxswain Grade 1 SeaTime:
150 days recreational sea time or 30 days (with a completed AMSA Task Book)

Coxswain Grade 2 SeaTime:
50 days recreational sea time or 10 days (with a completed AMSA Task Book)

Que What is a Task Book?
Ans see

Que How do I give my sea time to AMSA?
Ans Sea Time is best provided on Sea Service Form 771.

You can fill in the form online then download it as a PDF and print it. Use Form 771 only.

Other options are visible on the AMSA sea service info page,
they include:

(a) an approved sea service log book, or
(b) the on board sea service record from your task book, or
(c) a letter from the vessel operator, owner, master or chief engineer detailing your sea service. If you choose this option, the letter must include all the necessary information that is listed on the AMSA sea service info page.
(d) Seatime can be accumulated from age 14 for Coxswain
(e) If using a task book for sea service reduction, a copy of the completed Seafarer details page and a copy of Section 4 On board sea service record should be submitted. Do NOT submit the entire task book.

It is fairly easy, not like the Masters levels.
Many people do it 100% on recreational boats and simply get a mate to sign the form.

Skippers Ticket

Que : Do you need your rst (recreational skipper’s ticket) before commencing the Coxswain 1, 2 or 3 (or exemption 38)?

Ans : You need the knowledge that goes into a Recreational Skippers Ticket.

People that already have the recreational skippers ticket, have already studied those things, people that haven’t done those things, need to do them, so instead of adding them into the Coxswains course and charging $ for it, we add those things and also you get the recreational skippers ticket at the same time.

Some people do the Coxswains course at TAFE, which includes the skippers ticket knowledge, and they get the Coxswains, but don’t get a rec skippers ticket.

The way we do it you get both.

Or if you have a skippers ticket already, then you don’t have to re-do the same things again when you do the coxswains course.

Time to finish Coxswain 1

Que : How long will it take for me to finish the Coxswain Grade 1?

Ans : We often say it will take most students 4 weeks.

The 4 weeks is based on what our other students take as well as some of our trainers (who tested the course) have said.

If you take a look at this link:

You can see they say Length of the full Coxswains 1 is 5 weeks, 35 hours per week as full time = 175 hours.

Part time they say 20 weeks x 9 hours per week = 180 hours.

That is classroom time and then home study time is to be added on top of that.

In addition to the 180 hours classroom they say you need to spend another 20-30 hours home study to get to know enough to be able to pass the Final Exam.

That makes a total of 210 hours doing it at TAFE.

I believe a person can do our course in less than half that time and still get the same knowledge, cover all the same items and pass the same final assessment at the end.

We have had a few Uni students with significant boating experience pass the Coxswains 2 course 8 units (i.e. 2/3 of the entire course) in 8 days, and done the upgrade 4 units to the Coxswains 1 in another week or so. So 15 days to do it all. Whilst that is possible and has been done, that is the exception, most people have a life, have jobs, distractions, partners, kids and hobbies so I would only say 2 weeks is possible for a diligent competent studious person who is used to study and also knows a bit about boats already.

Unfortunately and in a weird way it seems those that have been boating for years and say they know it all, tend to not study, think its a tick and flick and fail to put any time or effort into it and end up struggling the most and get somewhat frustrated that they don’t do as well and not finish it as fast students who know nothing and just buckle down and do the work and study.

I don't know you, but I can say that much like getting a PhD or a pilots licence, there is no shortcut to our course. Our course is the shortest shortcut. If you know the knowledge, fill in the answers in our course and can do the practical, you pass. If not, you can just redo the exams or redo the parts necessary to get to the required minimum standard. We will keep working with anyone now quite up to the standard and let them keep trying those parts they cannot do, until they are competent and get their Coxswains 1.

Total Cost

Question: What does it cost?
Question: The booking form cost is slightly different to xxx advert I saw somewhere.
Question: The booking form says a different cost to what my mate xxxx said / to what I heard.

Ans : The booking form has the correct cost.

The Booking form is the latest, up to date cost.

What you see on the Booking Form is what it costs and what you will pay if you make a booking now.

Click it to get a Coxswain QUOTE.

When Next Course

Que : When are courses starting?

Ans : We are doing Coxswains courses 7 days a week so you can start tomorrow.

You do the Theory via Correspondence then the final exams and Practical are face to face with an assessor.

Usually all practical days are just 1 on 1 or sometimes 2 students with a trainer assessor but never large groups.

Start when you want by enrolling and paying online and finish as soon as you finish the written study book question and answers, then do the exams.

Check out

Its like a drivers licence for a car in many ways. You can’t just buy it, you need to pass the theory and practical test, and the sea time needed is easy (can be all recreational, signed off by family or friends), but it is a government controlled system, so they control it…



Que : Why do I need to get 100% in the theory test?

Ans : When you drive your car, do you 100% know the traffic lights, red vs green or orange lights of by heart?

When you drive your car, do you 100% know that white lights are on the front of other cars and red lights on the back, so if you see white lights you know it is coming towards you and if you see red lights you know it is going away from you? And you 100% know that a flashing orange light on the side of a car shows which way it is about to turn.
Same for boats, there are certain things you 100% need to know.
We don’t ask you useless stuff, we ask you what you MUST know.
Que : Do I need to know all flags of by heart?

Ans : No, but you are told during the course plus in the final revision notes which ones you HAVE to know, so learn these.

The core items are all covered in the email that is sent to you 6 days before the final test date.
There is a minimum “knowledge” and a minimum “skill / practical” level that is required - and so we are required to get evidence that you reach this competence level. And competence in knowing the lights, is 100%.
We make a great effort to make it quite clear what is needed. You even get sent the exam 6 days before your final exam day - and you are expected to know all the answers (relevant to your course level).
You only need to know the items specific to YOUR qualification level, and the exams are set up to make this clear.
Act and USL CODE

How in-depth must I “know” the Navigation Act, National Law Act, National standards and USL CODE?

For the purposes of this course, you get led through it as you go through the course, and at the end, you get given the final written test to practice, so you get told as you go along, what you need to know - for this course. The course is intended to take you through the most relevant parts and to make sure that you are aware of what info is where, and after that - it is left to you to determine the level of knowledge you wish to acquire.

Which takes us to the issue of what is the ‘legal’ requirement and - that's another thing - everyone legally has to know everything - that's how the law works. Under the law, technically legally not knowing is no excuse and we are thus ‘legally’ required to know every letter of every law.

After finish written part

Que : I Finished the written part, now what?

Ans : If you told us a final date, 5 days before your final date and assessment and practical the automated system will send you information that you need.

Some people scan or mail the workbooks to us, but that is not needed. Usually, while you sit doing the exam, I or whichever assessor is assigned to you will be going through all your written work. Any items that are not quite correct in the written work, get a sticky label attached and after you finish the exam, you and the assessor go over the sticky labels. Then while he marks your test, you go over the items that need improvement in the correspondence workbook. It is a well tried and workable process.
About the only time it runs into problems is (mostly with younger) people who are used to the tick and flick mentality of many modern courses, and they don’t actually research the answers or leave many blanks, or just write anything in the spaces, thinking that the assessor isn’t actually going to be bothered reading it all. These people are just sent away. More mature students, however, tend to write decent answers based on common sense, and on real-life experience as well as their research, to fill in the gaps.
Remember it is a correspondence course - so CORRESPOND with us if you have any problems with anything in the workbook, or in the practice revision exam.

Que : I am a beginner and I am finding it far more difficult than I first thought. At this stage I’m wondering if I can get through the books and recall all the lights, signals, markers, rules, manoeuvring info, knots, vessel and crew certification etc etc in one hit. I’m not employed as a mariner, nor do I have access to a commercial vessel or people to bounce these things off. I’m quite concerned as to how I will remember all that on exam day.

Ans : Yes, learning boating is a bit like when learning for a car drivers licence or an aeroplane pilots license in that to start with it involves a whole new language and new names for all parts - but in time you don’t even think about operating clutch, accelerator, gear lever, indicator and steering wheel all at the same time - keep going though, it is worth it, and great that you are communicating.

Best cox study apps

Que : What are the best Apps to study for Coxswain Exam:

Ans : 

Rule & Signals
Buoys & Lights
Boat Lights
Nautica Sailing School
Chat / talk to me

Que : Please call me / I want a quick chat / I want to talk to someone about some things.

Ans : We answer in writing. Always. It is a correspondence course and we are experts at corresponding. Unlike most salesmen who prefer to talk and say answers that they can later deny, we prefer to put all our answers in writing, so you have the facts.

We believe it is not as good to answer questions on the phone because too many times this can result in misheard things and later on a person can say “but you said…”
So I will not "say” anything until the day that we are face to face with students doing the final day of practical and assessments. I am happy to send written answers to you as we both can check what I wrote and there can be no confusion. Also written answers only take me a few seconds or even a minute at max to send to you, so I can get to everyone every day. That would be impossible by phone as I don’t want to use a call centre or some receptionist who doesn’t know anything.
It seems most people ask the same things, so I would have to then say the same thing over and over and over to student after student. So I prefer to save my voice for when I am face to face with students. If the answer isn't in our FAQ, please email me and tell me and I will add it.
Because it is a correspondence theory course all things are done by question and answer in written workbooks, and any questions that students have asked for the past ten years have all been answered in writing.
All answers are here in the FAQ.
If not, please ask in writing and I can answer your questions 7 days a week day or night, that way I can answer more students and you get better answers.
If you REALLY hate written answers, then perhaps you should not be doing a blended online plus correspondence course, and you may prefer and be better off spending weeks and weeks sitting in a classroom at somewhere like TAFE where you can chat and talk and listen as much as you want to a classroom full of people. However most people who are workers don’t have the time for that, and want our way of doing things, and likewise we don’t have time to chat to every single student. We are providing for the sort of people who don’t like the way other RTOs do it, we are not competing with them, we are providing a much needed service customised to a particular need.
But we do chat on the final day, thats when we focus on face to face and you get proper verbal time then. We REALLY want to give you the best possible answers. Sorry if this offends you, it is not personal, we are not trying to avoid talking to you - we just have a way of doing this so that it works for us and for you. If you really want to ‘chat’ and do not want to ask questions in writing, perhaps call an RTO that has more office workers and more government subsidy perhaps or which focusses on chatting to students rather than training them. EVERY thing is a balance, and the more they spend in one area, the less you get in another.
So if you have a real question, please write it down, and it will be properly answered, in writing.
Change date

Que : Can I change the date that I booked?

Ans : After you book, the kit gets mailed to you.

Once you get the kit, you can open it and look at it and start. You will quickly realise whether you will finish sooner, or later than the date you booked when you enrolled, and this is when you should change your date.
We give you ten days from when you get your kit mailed, to change the date of your final practical date.
Just email us and we will change the date, no problems at all. Free.
After that, if you want to change the date, and change it again, and again and again and again, you can do that as much as you want, but each change of date will cost $100. So make up your mind once you get the Kit, tell us the date, and work to that deadline. And finish it. We REALLY want you to finish and will do what it takes to assist you to gain competency properly. But if you change and change and change, it is going to cost you.

It says I must look at the vessel check list and make sure you know the regulations. Where is the vessel checklist?

Every vessel should have checklists in its SMS, you will see some checklists in our SMS. If you are using our boat the SMS is available to you in the USB thumb drive or the website address or you can even email me for the very latest, as we are editing it all the time. Students edit it.

Don’t stress about it, just know your way around the SMS, it is a real live document with mistakes and lists and todo items that we and students work on improving all the time, like a real SMS and real checklists. If you are using your own boat, you need to know your own SMS and use it on the day.

Collision Regs Rule 5 Lookout

Que : The Collision Regs Rule 5, Section 1 is not asking what you would look out for. It is asking how you would look out for dangers.

Ans: Collision Regulations Rule 5:
This is the most important rule, it is LOOK OUT.

Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and or the risk of collision.
When the rule says “ALL AVAILABLE MEANS” what it means can be taken to include;
1) your sight
2) your hearing
3) your crews sight
4) your crews hearing
so don’t let them have headphones on and listening to music
5) your passengers sight
6) your passengers hearing
thats why in aircraft they ask you to keep your blinds open at takeoff and landing, so that passengers can see anything going wrong and tell the crew
and then also these you may already have worked out ...
7) radar
8) binoculars
9) charts
10) gps
11) depth sounder
12) radio
13) AIS
14) Compass - because you look out for your direction by using your compass, and looking out to ensure you are going in the correct direction ensures you don’t go aground or into the path of another vessel if you are in a traffic separation area etc.
Coxswain FAQ - Policies

Que : I want more than 6 months to finish the course, I need to delay it more because:

  • I cannot use computers
  • I prefer classroom
  • I have too much other work
  • I just got married / divorced / a baby / a death in the family / the dog ate it etc
What can I do?
Ans : You have 6 months to finalise it.
When you booked we made this clear.
You read it and you accepted it.
Diamond Hazard signs

I cannot find information about the diamond Hazard signs.


So far as the Hazardous Materials part of the Environment unit it should be covered in the relevant part of the Australian Boating Manual page 119 (depending on the version you have).

It is only lightly covered in the Small Ships Manual that is a PDF in your thumb drive. Page 18 and 19.

Most people have posters at work or find the diamond placard interpretations online - which is part of the aim of the exercise, which is not to actually know the placards but to be able to find them, which will be an ongoing exercise on some vessels.

There's a placard finder on this website:

And a summary of the main points on this page:

there are also many videos online, describing the system eg:

Wikipedia also has some information on the standard that the placards are based on:
This Wiki page which has more pictures and less words:
which are all better more informative pages than the information on the Australian Dangerous goods Code which is not as user friendly.

In summary basically the diamond panel has four areas:
• Red - Fire hazard
• Blue - Health hazard
• Yellow - Reactivity
• White - Specific hazard

The numbers in the first three areas range from 0 to 4, with 0 signifying no hazard and 4 signifying a severe hazard. For example, in the Reactivity area:
• 0 = Stable
• 1 = Unstable if heated
• 2 = Violent chemical
• 3 = Shock or heat may detonate
• 4 = May detonate

In the Fire hazard area, the numbers indicate the flash point:
• 0 = Will not burn
• 1 = Above 200 degrees F (93 C)
• 2 = Below 200 degrees F
• 3 = Below 100 degrees F (38 C)
• 4 = Below 73 degrees F (23)
Concrete is an example of a class 0 fire hazard. Paper and wood are class 1.

In the Health hazard area:
• 0 = No hazard
• 1 = Slightly hazardous
• 2 = Hazardous
• 3 = Extremely hazardous
• 4 = Deadly

In the Specific hazard area, you will see things like:
• OXY - Oxidizer
• ALK - Alkali
• COR - Corrosive
You may also see a "W" with a bar through it (meaning "use no water"), or the radiation hazard symbol for radioactive materials.

Distress Signals

Que : There is a question about Distress and Emergencies, is it asking for what would indicate to me another vessel is in distress such as distress flag, lights, day shapes, bells, horn, flares etc ?

Ans :  yes.

The law says you must assist a vessel in distress.
So you need to know what a distress signal is, because if you see ANY distress signal you MUST assist. So logically you need to know what all distress signals are.
If they are in distress and you do not assist, when they were clearly in distress and doing or showing or there was one of the distress signals visible to you - then you as a skipper will be in big trouble. So you need to know what to watch for, and what distress signal you all react to if you see it.
Electric bilge diagram

Que : I cannot find a simple electrical circuit diagram of an electric bilge pump.

Ans : There are many hundreds online, just search in Google, search for these words

3 way bilge pump switch diagram
Find the SIMPLEST one, best will be one that only has battery, 3 way switch, float switch and bilge pump.
Emergency Signals

The question asks 'what do these emergency signals mean', I cannot find anything for 1 short and 1 long blast at least 3 times in succession.

Go into Google and type your exact words,
"1 short and 1 long blast at least 3 times in succession”
and you will get a heap of answers….

Many answers are in the huge array of resources available to skippers online.

Footprint / Emissions

Que : How a Coxswain operating on a vessel could use alternative technology to limit growth?

Ans : It refers to growth of energy use and also use and wastage of resources.

As this is a unit on Environment - we need to think about the Environment when answering questions.

Environmentally they want us to be more sustainable and to restrict growth of usage and waste of resources, growth of carbon footprint, growth of effect on the environment, growth of negative impact etc. We aren't doing profit or total revenue, we must think like greenies for this unit.
Reduce growth of ... Energy use, resource use, carbon footprint ....

They want to see if you know about improvements in engines, planning, navigation, systems to make efficiencies etc - because the marine industry tends to be quite inefficient and use old tech…

If you think of a commercial boat as all of these:

a house
a factory
a workplace
a transporter

all merged into one.
We all know how a house has to be aware of energy use, how they need to recycle and so forth, and there are things that a factory does and that a transporter does, such as planning, operating economically, efficient engines servicing etc. It is all applicable to our sector, the commercial boating sector.

Boats can reduce emissions by changing trim.
Look at this:

Fuel Calculation

Que : I am having a problem working out the calculation with fuel in the Navigation section of the bookwork.

Ans : The object of the exercise is not an academic exercise, it is not about finding an answer from me or Google or YouTube.

It is really a test to see if you can figure out what amount of fuel you need. Most rescues occur because people haven’t calculated their fuel usage, so it is now a priority that all commercial skippers need to be able to calculate fuel usage.
Without someone else telling them each and every variation and calculation.
Boats have various ways to calculate it, much like car fuel calculations seem to have a multitude of variations in how you work it out.
Whatever works for you is the best way.
How do you work out the fuel.
You are about to do a really long trip up the coast and need to calculate what you need to carry.
If you cannot find the information for any and all motors - how will you ever be able to operate a boat?
The maths is simple.
Finding consumption from engine manufacturers is more difficult.
Figuring out what the  ‘real life’ fuel usage will likely be is very difficult because revs links to speed and distance and fuel usage and there are many variables and the fuel usage varies with hulls and weather also.
So you will need to use the facts that you can find, then make assumptions on as the many other things  (and note these because we want to see how you got to the answer).
It will enable you to develop a way that best works for you.
How Long do I Get to Finish it?

Que : Is there a fast track?
Can I just come in and do it fast?

Ans : The course is competency based, you can do the theory as fast as you want, anytime up to 6 months. there is no minimum set time, there is just a minimum set competency. You need to know certain things 100%

But is is not a tick and flick.
This course is a lot different to those “shonky” courses that many of us in Australia have become used to seeing in the mining, construction and other areas at work, where merely being present and ticking the attendance list is often enough to get a certificate or ticket, just by paying for it and sitting in a classroom for long enough.
But - in our industry we require crews and skippers to actually know what we train, we (and AMSA and ASQA)  are trying to raise the standard and the items we train and assess are actually items that industry want their coxswains to know.
Remember Industry creates the Training Package, not AMSA, so industry want better well trained skippers.
Inshore Definitions

Que : What is INSHORE?

Ans : Inshore operations ( according to NSCV Part B) inshore operations means operations of a vessel that are conducted laterally along the coast from either the base or a regular port of departure of the vessel that is:

  • Within 15 nm to seaward from:
    • (a) the baseline of any of the following:
      • (i) the Australian mainland;
      • (ii) the Tasmanian mainland;
      • (ii) a recognised island; or
    • (b) sheltered waters limits.
Marine notices

On the AMSA link I cannot find it. only seem to run to mid 2018, is there a 2019 list I am missing?

On the page you linked to - click the top left little box. It will take you to this page headed CURRENT MARINE NOTICES.
Links keep changing, so use the AMSA search.

Marine Pollution

Que : Marine Pollution

Ans : The discharge of oil or oily substances from ships is prohibited unless strict conditions are met. In order to satisfy these conditions, ships must be fitted with special equipment and installations, as required by the regulations.
However, a ship of less than 400 gross tonnage (other than an oil tanker) need only be capable of storing oil residues on board, and discharging them to reception facilities ashore. Failure to comply with Australian MARPOL 73/78 legislation can result in penalties of up to $200,000 for an individual and $1 million for companies.
Best Practice Guidelines for Waste Reception Facilities (Internet resource)
Impacts of Shipping (Internet resource)

Requirements for reporting pollution incidents
A pollution report (POLREP) must be made to AMSA when an incident involves:
1 A discharge or probable discharge of oil, or noxious liquid substances carried in bulk, resulting from damage to the ship or its equipment, or for the purpose of securing the safety of a ship or saving life at sea.
2 A discharge or probable discharge of harmful substances in packaged form, including those in freight containers, portable tanks, road and rail vehicles and ship borne barges.
3 An operational discharge in excess of that permitted under MARPOL 73/78.

In addition, all illegal discharges of garbage should be reported to the local authorities or to AMSA.

Reference: Australian Annual Notice to Mariners, Notice 31, Requirements for Reporting Pollution Incidents.

Notice to Mariners

Que : In the workbook we are asked to refer to Annual Notice to Mariners. The only one I can find online is available only for purchase from

Are you aware of one that is free?

Ans : This should be on your USB thumb drive in your Kit.

Australian Annual Notices to Mariners 2015.pdf
Chapter 25, page 103
However if it is missing let us know if it doesn’t work and we can send you a new link to one.
BUT Links can move all the time:
Other people have found other links….
Not Under Command

How can a vessel not under command be making way?

Under Command means more or less “out of control”
So it could be stuck in gear and have no steering, or any other malfunctions. If you look on youtube you will see many crashes caused by control system malfunctions. They were “not under command”.

Page Numbers


The references to the ABM / Small Ships Manual in the course Workbook are sometimes different to my page numbers.

Ans : Yes.

The references to the ABM and the Small Ships Manual in the Knowledge Assessment Workbook sometimes mention page numbers that can differ from the version of books that you may have because there are 6 different versions of Small Ships Manual and now 6 versions of Australian Boating Manual (ABM), and different people have different versions. Most companies have copies that students use. The digital versions of both also have different page numbers to the hard copies and between all those versions there are over 20 different versions and options. Sometimes we specify which book to look at, but the best option is to use the index. Or better still, read the chapter.  eg a question may suggest that you look at Small Ships Manual Version 5 Page 247 or Australian Boatin Manual version 5 pg 170, and it will just say  SS V5 Page 247 or ABM5
pg 170.
In reality all students could / should study the entire chapter or the entire Small Ships Manual. All of it.
But to help (those students who can figure out the versions) we have added some page numbers (and sometimes mentioned which version) to make it easier for you to find the actual page in the chapter with the most important info for the most common versions of books out there. But the exercise of finding the right page is not the point. This is not an exercise to see if you can find a sentence from a certain page and copy it. The idea is that students read it all, then understand and put things into their own words.
We could (and we have been told that we should) just remove every single page number from the kit and just tell people to read the entire relevant chapters, but we thought leaving the page numbers of the most common versions of the books would assist some people. If the page numbers confuse you, just ignore them and read the entire chapter, or use the index to find the items you are looking for. Most people that are doing the course to learn something, study the entire Small Ships Manual, and also study the relevant chapters of the Australian Boating Manual.
When AMSA publish the new Version 7 Small Ships Manual, and they are available for sale, we will make all numbers match the new version and the new version of the book will be in the Kit. But while we wait for AMSA, we have no other option.
The answers are all there in the study books, just in different page numbers to those we quote. Almost all of the Small Ships Manual has to be known, so a Coxswain should read and know all of it. So page numbers being different shouldn't be a problem as all the knowledge is in it.
We have even had some students get most answers by searching Google and wikipedia and various boating sites, as well as really getting to know the AMSA site really well - as they haven't liked the Australian Boating Manual. However the best method is to follow the method described in the course. ie Study the study booklet from your kit first, read all of what it says to read and follow the instructions - and it will all work out. Its not a tick and flick course, however we have the highest pass rate of any correspondence course in the country, so it does work.
We are changing it all the time, based on changes in Government / AMSA and also on what students say. This course is more up to date than any other course in Australia, and that is only because we keep updating it and we make allowances for different versions etc. We REALLY want everyone to pass and get really properly competent and qualified, so will do what it takes to get you to know what you need to know, so you can pass the final tests at the end. So it really needs to be learned, there are no shortcuts, but if you follow the system - you will get there.
So step 1: get the Australian Boating Manual, or look at the Small Ships Manual and read it hen start studying and reading and learning and then answering the written questions. Take notes when it tells you to and work through it.
Remember its a Correspondence - so correspond regularly…I am here to help you to get through, properly. If you don’t understand something, just ask.
When we say to study the chapter on anchoring on for example pg 121, if the version of book happens to have it on page 96, thats not what the course is about. We could just say - find the chapter on anchoring and read it.
Most questions can be answered and the answers found via any choice of methods and we often try to give options, online, Australian Boating Manual, Small Ships Manual, and also items on the USB thumb drive. Students are all different so we cater for the broadest possible range of students, even those with learning difficulties are able t complete this course. However we don’t hold peoples hand and allow them to simply copy paste answers. They are expected to actually get involved and learn, rather than being spoon fed, which can be difficult for some to begin to accept.
It is totally impossible to have every single page reference of every version for every question, so thats why people are expected to just read the chapter to study the relevant item. The specific page numbers may match up for some students, but for other students they have to turn a few pages or look for the relevant chapter heading.
If there is any particular question you cannot answer, let me know…
Practical Assessment Day

Que : What size boat and what survey class is it that we will be using for the Practical? Some of the questions require my knowledge of this.

Ans : 2C survey and 5.99m long with a 150HP 4 stroke Yamaha outboard.

Que: What can I expect on the practical assessment day?

Ans: This is covered during the course. You will see items mentioned in various places all through the correspondence course and then at the end more information is sent to you in an email that you will receive five days before the final practical day.

We try to not bombard you with too much about the practical early on as the correspondence theory written course is more than enough for you to focus on at the start.

So if you start with and finish the theory written correspondence items in the kit, then when we send you the practical information five days before the final exam day then that is the time to revise your theory and also look at what we send you about the practical. We actually send you the final written exam and the final practical exam, so you know exactly what you will get asked.

On the practical day you will need to bring correct AMSA approved ID such as a passport, birth certificate and that information is sent to you, or you can even find it on AMSA website. You can’t do the exam without this ID.

You will be told to bring in a list of things. You will get the list five days before the practical these will include bringing in a completed filled in Risk Assessment. You can either do this on your own company paperwork, or on the card that is in your Kit, a Temporary Notice to Mariners check for the area you are doing the practical in, a Weather Report, the Tide information and you also need to go through your Kit and make sure everything is filled in, look at all the sheets of paper in the Kit. Everything is in there for a reason.

Bring your entire Kit in to us on your Practical Final assessment day. And most important make sure you absolutely completely finish your written workbook and bring it in. Nearly finished is not good enough, you will just be sent away. You need to fill it all in.

Also bring Clothing appropriate to the forecast.

If you are doing the Grade 2 or the Grade 1 bring bathers, wetsuit if you want and a change of clothes, towel etc

The notes you get sent 5 days before the test will actually tell you all the items that the trainer will be doing with you. For example;
Refuelling the boat
How to deal with dangerous goods
You will need to do basic very basic troubleshooting You will also have to do a simulated lockout tag out You will also let off a red handheld flair and an orange smoke flare
You will do very basic firefighting which does not include a fire you will have to show that you can set off a CO2 fire extinguisher also show that you know how to point it at the fire also how to use a fire blanket and a fire hose. All of these are in the Thumb Drive, and you can even find most things on YouTube as well as on the instructions manuals for these things.

Grade 1 people will also need to use the outboard service manual to answer some basic questions, they will also remove an outboard impeller and replace it and the propeller and replace it.

Once you get to the water and into the boat the items are fairly standard of what you will need to do. It is not too far different to the recreational skippers ticket with a few extra things added.

You will depart the berth safely do a figure eight, drive ahead, drive astern, pick up a man overboard, pick up a mooring, turn in a confined space and simulate towing another boat using the large floating dock. You will also anchor and berth the boat.

Grade one and Grade 2 doing basic survival will also have to abandon ship so will have to know how to do a Mayday call and have to know how to activate an EPIRB. They have to jump in the water and tread water for 5 minutes, then they get thrown a life jacket and have to put a lifejacket on in the water, then they have to swim in a life jacket for 50 m. You also have to tow another person or a dummy for 50m and have to know what is the H.E.L.P. position and do it and demonstrate how to swim in a conga line.

Only Grade one have to do the survival craft unit. Grade 1 has to read the instructions and set the life raft off from the boat. The trainer will help you once the life raft is deployed. You will have to jump safely into the water while wearing a lifejacket, then turn the capsized life raft over while in the water. You then climb into the life raft from the water and then deploy the drogue while you are separate from the boat. The trainer then drives off and you wave to him to come and rescue you, and he comes back to rescue you. You haul all the items back into the liferaft, including the drogue and anything that could get caught up in your rescuers propeller.

You then also have to answer some questions.

All grades have to know the set of knots including figure 8, sheet bend, reef knot, clove hitch, round turn and 2 half hitches and the rolling hitch. You will need to prepare and throw a heaving line after attaching it to a heavy rope using a double sheet bend and you will then also have to coil and hang up the heaving line you used.

Grade 1 and grade 2 then also need to do an eye splice and a short splice and also whip the end of a rope with some thin twine or cotton thread that is provided.

All grades of Coxswain students, Grade 1, 2 and 3 all have to know 20 out of 20 day shapes that they get asked from the flip cards and grade 1 and grade 2 also have to know an additional 30 night lights and get them all correct.

Now each of the items that I have just mentioned above are really all separate ‘sections’ so if for example a person is no good at rope work or useless at knots or doesn’t know the lights or is not up to the standard in one small section, they can fail that one small section but still keep going and do everything else. All they then need to do is demonstrate at a later time that they can now do that small section. Sometimes you can do it later in the day or the next day or at some other time you can come back to Woodman Point and redo it.

Some people come in a few times, sometimes just for an hour, just to do some things they were not able to pass the first time.

Que: Do I need to practice on a boat before the practical?

Ans:  It is assumed

that you already have been out on boats and do you have at least some practical experience on boats, and if so then that is really all you need. At the basic coxswains level you are expected to only have had recreational boating experience and so long as you have got that you should be fine. The practical competency level required is quite low and it is all really more about safety rather than requiring a great boat handling skill level. So long as you are safe and careful and considered in what you do you will be fine, no speeding, no high revs, no slamming between gears, just smooth and take it easy and be safe. 

If you do have a friend with a boat and can go out with them and practice, then I would say practice these:

Departing the berth safely 

Do a figure eight, ahead, and astern, 

Pick up a man overboard, 

Pick up a mooring, 

Turn in a confined space - what this means is like a 3 point turn. Turning without moving forwards or backwards far, like you do in a car. Except in a boat you might do a 4 or 5 or 6 point turn, the idea is to show you can go back and forth, turning the outboard in the correct direction each time to achieve a turn in as small as space as possible. 

And also anchor properly and finally berth the boat carefully at a dock.

Practical Day List

What do I need on the Practical / Final Assessment Day?

This is covered during the course and finalised in an email you will receive 5 days before the practical day.
As in “real life” you are expected to make up a list as you go along….
There are some items….
Temporary Notice to Mariners
Clothing appropriate to the forecast
Bathers, wetsuit and a change of clothes, towel etc if doing Grade 2, or Grade 1.
Add more…


The study book says “Write a list of procedures required for the vessel on exam day. Does this mean things like MOB, berthing, unberthing, crane operations, anchoring, abandon ship etc”

This is being changed at the moment and the latest Final Practical day information gets sent to all students 5 days before they come in. Email us and ask for the latest SMS, which is the one you will use. There is also an SMS in your Thumb Drive that was in the Kit. Students read it, know it and have it with them and use it on the day. They make suggested changes and that all goes into their digital evidence file, of their contribution and understanding.


Que : I can not find the dangers of refuelling using a plastic jerry can, transporting a plastic jerry or storing an outboard motor.

Ans : 

You must be one of the smarter ones, and I DO mean that. We find that the smarter PhD students and professors and people who are very smart and precise and accurate and correct in what they do seem to struggle with questions that require common sense, as in those things that commoners know. Labourers and workers can answer these practical things based on what is to them common knowledge, simple and basic items which they know, not based on book learned ‘stuff’. Your looking for precise written answers to things is the problem here. Because no committee somewhere made up a list telling everyone what every risk is, some academics struggle. But it is their way to start to learn about the boating world in which there is no way you can learn everything about everything from books.
Lets consider the situation using an analysis of what the problem is one word at a time:
It is Plastic
It is Portable
It carries inflammable liquid
Plastic = soft, it can get cut, squashed, or even melted. This is common knowledge and so you are expected to apply this knowledge to the issue of plastic fuel containers and how you transport them. Something sharp leaning against it will pierce it.
Portable = it can roll over and the plastic lid can even get knocked off quite easily when packed in a ute or truck with other gear.
Sparks and static also happen a lot and screwed in connections get loose when the plastic is left in tropical or hot sun.
You could go on and on and on about the risks.
These questions are placed in certain places in the course to gauge the students ability to transfer and apply (commonly expected) knowledge from one area, into another area. i.e. knowledge of what plastic is and what portable means and what inflammable liquid is, can be used to transfer to the carrying and use of plastic portable jerry cans. We use these questions to see if a student is competent at using a wide range of common or expected knowledge of life, to apply it to their actions on a vessel, to reduce risk. We can see by students answers what they are competent at, and we thus adjust the way we train on the final day. We can then adjust the final final practical day to fill the ‘gaps’ we need to fill and also the final assessment content is varied based on real life expectations.
The questions and answers often have multiple (sneaky) reasons, and are there to answer more than simply the question they are asking.
Another example is to make a website link incorrect in order to see if the student is able to deal with this and find a new place to get the info - this tells us that the student is competent in finding the answers in the future when coxswain rules change. It is sort of like teaching someone how to read a chart, rather than teaching them how to get from A to B. We don’t teach A to B, but then we test you to see if you can get from A to B, then if you can do that, we know you can also work out how to get to D, E and G etc. It is sneaky but satisfies requirements in the easiest way. Sometimes just one answer in the book is actually answering 3 or more things for AMSA and the training package.
Many things can actually be found online if you really really seriously don’t have any idea about plastic fuel containers.
eg type the words "risk transporting plastic fuel containers" into Google and you will get many answers.
Find the ones that you think apply to you as a boater.
As a Coxswain there will be many many things that need to be learned and we cannot teach every single one, so what we are doing is teaching concepts, teaching overview, teaching you to think like a good Coxswain. We look for evidence of resourcefulness to assist students to find answers for themselves and to figure out improvements in their life as a Coxswain, because you will need it.
Sea Time Overseas

Que : Does seatime that I got overseas count towards my coxswain seatime?

Ans : The best people to ask about SeaTime is AMSA.

They alone are the ones who decide it and make the rules.

Smooth Water description

Que : Where can I find smooth or Partially smooth water

Ans :
Mar 11, 2015 - Find out about the geographical limits of smooth and partially smooth waters in Western Australia, suitable for all vessels, including 'Class E' ...


What do I need to do I am using your boat, please send the SMS

Ans : Perth Boat School has an SMS on:

Look at the SMS and then email us some text with your contribution to improving it. Add things that are needed, edit things, improve it.
there is more on SMS in the thumb drive and AMSA guidance on SMS for you is on this site:
SMS / Risk Assessment / SWM

Que : My company does not have a SMS relevant to marine works. Shall I print out and bring an example SMS from the AMSA website?

Ans : Students have to prove they are familiar with the concept of an SMS, know how to work on one, how to develop a template into a working realistic SMS relevant to whatever job they will be doing.

We don’t need you to prove that you can copy and paste, or print something. The key concept we are looking for is, “has the student studied the material sufficient to (1) learn, and (2) apply, the knowledge. We need evidence of this, and the only way to prove you can apply the knowledge is to do it, to create a simple, relevant sms, or edit one, improve on one or in some way show you can do what is relevant to your job. The job that you will be doing when you get the qualification.
But it cannot be just a copy, some thought and understanding actually has to be shown. “Apply” knowledge is the key to this.
You can email this - most people do that as they are digital. We keep a digital file for all students in folders.
So if we ever need to, we can refer to other students work from Dampier Salt / Rio Tinto. If there are issues, we go over those on the final day.
We do need evidence form you that you have contributed to this document and are at least able to use it and figure out what is needing editing etc. Some / any improvement can always be done. So what students do is look at their SMS / SWP / SWMS for a part of the boating activities, particularly the area that relates to what their job will be, and they see if the document matches the real life on the workplace risks of what really, practically is likely to occur, then they write a few paragraphs or a list or two, improving some part of the SWP, or a procedure, or an emergency process etc - just something to show you are involved and understand the purpose and use of the document.
Ours is online at if you are using our boat on the day download this, read it and send us an email with suggested improvements that will make your workday better, safer.
Special Mark

Que : What is the light rhythm and colour of the special mark and then asks why it is the way it is. I can only find information about what the light is and its rhythm however I cant find any info on the reason it has this rhythm. I understand that it is a yellow light that can be any rhythm other than that of the cardinal, iso danger or safe water mark and I'm only guessing it has this rhythm to clearly distinguish it from the other markers. Would this be correct?

Ans : Yes. And this shows your thought process and ability to calculate C when given A and B, so shows the next stage of thinking that a skipper / coxswain needs, where you take knowledge of some things and use that to figure out other things. PERFECT.


Que : I can't find the reason behind the light rhythm for special markers?

Ans : Special Mark has no specific light rhythm other than cannot conflict with the white lights rhythms of Cardinal , Isolated Danger, Safe Water so you must realise that it is different, i.e. "Any Rhythm" other than those in the area.

Part two of same question refers to WHY is there this rhythm, obviously the answer is so that yellow light cannot be confused any of the white light rhythms (which can appear yellow).
Questions such as these are in the question book specifically to see if the student has the ability to work things out, and not to just look for answers given by other people, but to learn A and B and thus work out C by themselves. There are a number of these sorts of things in the books.
Squat and Interaction

Que : Where is this, I cannot find the info

Ans : The Question is about “squat” and “interaction”. These words can usually be found in the index, but if not, the easiest way to learn is to watch videos or read online. Different people learn via different ways, so we try to give you as many options as possible.

It is in the Small Ships Manual Version 5 (the file is in your thumb drive) the index shows it on page 253, 254, 255 and also squat is on page 207 using PDF search and also a little on the top of pg 268.
Google will show you also, I just typed the words “squat” and “interaction” into google and got the following.
There are also many videos in YouTube that show the effects:
failed interaction:
good interaction:
interaction info:
Statutory, Vessel and Company documentation

Despite reading the study material I’m struggling to understand what is the difference between Statutory, Vessel, and Company documentation. What is the short summery version definition?

Statutory - made by Government, rules and laws, i.e. Dept of Transport, AMSA, licences such as Fishing or tourism licences, permits etc.
Vessel - about the boat, how to operate it, operation manuals and instructions and checklists
Company - documents specific to the company only.

Survey Exempt Boat

Que : I “know” our boat is or used to be “survey exempt” and under the new AMSA system our boat has a certificate of operation as a 2C workboat, and it also says something about restrictions, but I can not find any correspondence to say that is exempt from survey. Would we have received anything from AMSA to say this or is the cert of operation that.

Ans : Excellent - that is the purpose of the course, to get you to look at your own operations and to ensure that every step of the process is correct and legal / compliant with both AMSA and OHS and any other regulations relating to the operation.

This is a common occurrence, vessels that are Grandfathered (see the Guidance paper on AMSA website) can operate in certain circumstances under their “old” requirements. But - what often happens is most people haven’t kept records of the “old” (i.e. grandfathered) requirements, and so they have no evidence of what they are actually required to do, to have on board etc.
If your vessel is on a Certificate of Operation, then when someone applied for the Certificate of Operation they will have filled in that it was Survey Exempt and they should have had evidence of that being so.
Many Survey Exempt vessels still use the lists for safety equipment, eg we have copies of the old WA survey Exempt document which is not available as a document via DoT anymore - we just happen to have kept ours, because we have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. What is says on your CoO is what you are allowed to do.
Survey Intervals

I am having problems finding the answers in the books.

Version 6 of the Small Ships has a section called SURVEY on those pages, however the only version students often have is version 5 which was before they added that section to the Small Ships. AMSA promised in 2013 to update the Small Ships Manual, however it still has not yet been done. We have requested the right to update it ourselves, but that too has not been forthcoming. So for now all that exists is our Study Book plus the old Small Ships Manual, plus the AMSA website. Don’t stress too much about this, as it is an ever evolving space and so long as you are aware of the fact that there are these requirements, when it comes to your own vessel, we will be going online on the day to see what is needed. This is part of the problem studying a subject that involves rules that are in flux. So long as you can find Survey Requirements on the AMSA site. Check our MY BOAT.

Task Books

Que : Can Task Books be completed with the trainer? Can I pay for an instructor to help teach and complete some/all of the tasks in the taskbook?

Ans : AMSA have specifically said that trainers /  RTO’s cannot do the task books with students.

The task book is supposed to be done by students ‘at work’ on their own workboat as its a way to show that the sea time that you have is better than standard sea time, and thus the seatime amount is reduced.

Que : I am told to get a TNTM before my practical (next week). I have had a look on the Department of Transport's website and I cannot find one for my location.

Ans : Before you, as a commercial Coxswain skipper take a vessel out you need to check the weather (whatever is relevant to your operations and location and vessel etc, i.e. wind, tide, warnings etc…). You also need to check the TNTM’s because something may have occurred the day before you head out, and you may drive straight into a sea container floating in the port, or some other danger and the TNTM may have warned you about it. So you need to show me that you have checked. You can check the day before and print it, or you can check it on your mobile the night before and keep a screen grab, or you can even in front of me on the day. The idea is "real life" proving to me that you are a good skipper and that you do all these checks. The fact that you looked and cannot find one for your location is great - as that proves to me that you have looked, so just give me proof that you looked, other than your word that you did it - I don't really know whether you did look, or if you just said you did. So give me a screen grab, a print out, or any 'evidence' that provers you actually looked - will be fine. We need to keep evidence that you did these things, and that can be a digital photo, a screen grab, or something else you may think of, it is no limited.


Q:  When setting up a tow from behind, create a checklist of 10 items you would include: I am unsure of the wording here – Is this towing a vessel behind me (as the tow-er) or setting up to tow the towee FROM their behind ie: push. I am assuming the first as I have no idea how to push a vessel from astern?


Tow from Behind:

There are 3 ways you tow a boat.
1) from in front, i.e. you are in front
2) from alongside
3) from behind, when you are behind the other boat. Actually you are sort of alongside, but mostly behind, so in a way you are pushing. As most vessels that a Coxswain works with, have an outboard at the back and an anchor at the front, it is not possible to come up behind a boat and simply push it the way a tug boat would push a barge.
In your USB thumb drive there is a Small Ships Manual and in the Towing section, you can see an image on pg 259 that shows the lines and setup.
Obviously the one we want you to draw is not the same, otherwise that would only show us if you can copy something. We need to see that you can learn from seeing one situation and put that knowledge into solving a similar towing situation, this time we provided you with a barge and you are required to show it towing (pushing from behind/alongside).
Also, in the Australian Boating Manual (Edition 6) in chapter 8: Boat Handling & Towing, Fig 8.27 is very similar to what we are wanting you to draw in your workbook.
A good video showing how this works in real life is here;
As a Coxswain does not operate a tugboat, we don’t ask you to do anything a tug would do, however towing of the sort in the video and dealing with barges is a common task for Coxswains.


Variation Deviation


Many people get all confused and stressed by the variation and deviation and that is because it is often trained by mathematic boffins who seem to have fun making it seem more complicated than it needs to be. It is not academic, it is not bookwork or formulae, it is real life.

Really, it is all as simple as this.
Step one, you are sitting at home looking at a chart and decide to go from point A to point B. You know charts are TRUE.
So A to B is the TRUE bearing. Easy.
But when you walk outside you can see there are no TRUE lines painted on the earth that match the chart for us to follow so the only way to know the direction we need to go is to use MAGNETICS, using the magnetics of the earth.
So we need to convert the TRUE heading we want to go, to a MAGNETIC bearing that will be of use in the real world. We do this by using the Variation information.
Once we have converted TRUE (chart) to MAGNETIC (real world) we know the MAGNETIC bearing we follow to steer from A to B.
We then go to the boat, look at the compass and want to use the compass to tell us what the Magnetic bearing is, so we can head form A to B. If the COMPASS was perfect that would be fine, we would steer the boat using the compass and follow the MAGNETIC bearing.
BUT compasses have errors. If our compass is not perfect, then we need to figure out whats wrong and we need to make an adjustment to our heading. This is where the compass error (i.e. compass DEVIATION) come in.

A Deviation Card is simply a card telling you how wrong your magnetic compass is.

In theory if everything was perfect, the Compass North should point your way to the MAGNETIC North out there in the real world.

So if you are on your boat and you want to steer towards Magnetic North, you “should” be able to look at your Compass and steer to where it says Magnetic North is.
Thats the theory, but the compass may not be correct, it may have errors, it may DEVIATE.
When you look at the Compass in your boat and it “says” you are heading North, in fact the Compass may be wrong, and you may actually be headed somewhere else.
This is where the Compass Deviation Card comes in.

The demo Deviation card provided with your practical kit is just one style of many styles of cards available. Look online and you will see heaps of variations, we can discuss some on your practical day - just remind me when we start the chartwork)

For now, using the provided Deviation card.

If you want to steer towards Magnetic North, then the number of degrees Magnetic North is 0. (Remember North is 0, East is 90, South is 180, West is 270).

If we want to travel Magnetic North (0), the card tells us that the compass is out and it tells us that in order to go North (i.e. 0) we actually need to steer the boat so that the compass “says” 357.
So steering the boat and looking at the compass, when the compass says 357, we will actually he heading North, towards Magnetic North.

On the card looking at Magnetic East (90) we see that we have to actually steer the boat on a heading of 92 to actually really be heading towards Magnetic East (90).

The same goes for all the other bearings.
Some cards only have 4 rows of data with North, East, South and West, others such as this one have North, North East (045), and East (090) and so on, i.e. every 45 degrees. There is no hard and fast rule.

Some cards just have -2 or +4 or -10 etc which tells you the error. There are many ways to set up a card, but the AIM of the card must be remembered. It is not all about formulae and numbers and memory. The idea is to tell the skipper how wrong the compass is, and then the skipper can know what should be steered to go towards the correct Compass heading.

Vessel classes

Que : I cannot find the 4 main vessel classes / water classifications

Ans : They should be in your Study Book plus they are also on the AMSA website, this used to be the web page, if it has changed search for it on the AMSA website, as a Coxswain you will need to know this because every time you get on a different boat, you will need to see its classification and that will lead to you deciding what you can do, where you can go etc. As a skipper you need to know the codes for vessel classes 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as water classification A, B, C, D and E.


Can I come down and familiarise with the vessel I will be tested on if that’s possible prior to exam day. I know your books say all the answers are staring at me, but …

Yes, sure this week or next? Just email and I will let you know which dates the vessel is in the shed and available.
By all means you can come in. The point of the final day practical assessment is a simulation of your first day “on the job” at a worksite where you are the new Coxswain and that is when you check all the above items. The fact that you want to check them early is a massive positive and something I have to make a point of telling to all students. “Don’t check your vessel for the first time just an hour before your first offshore job using it, or you will end up heading offshore in an illegal boat”. You don’t need to come in, but you can if you want.

Waste Minimisation and Segregation

Que : I cannot find any information regarding waste minimisation and segregation in my ABM, and the www.

Ans : The course is blended learning and clever assessment and is designed to let you achieve 4 things by answering 1 question.

  1. You can prove that you have initiative,
  2. You can prove that you can find things, and
  3. You can prove that you can take knowledge from one area and use it elsewhere, and
  4. You can prove that you have life experiences, and all that I can see from whether you can give an answer that is obvious, but isn’t written in front of you in a book.
Proving competency in Knowledge and Skills is the main focus of adult education and that means not just a matter of copying answers from one book into another, or from the www into our written book, even though it is possible to do this for some small parts of the course
Effectively we train A and B and then see if you can figure out C for yourself.
To help you here is a discussion on the two items waste minimisation and segregation and you will see that you actually already do know the answer, just from your life.
Waste minimising is HUGE, it is a part of our world conversation every day, from school kids, to tv ads, to the local council rubbish bins and the Clean Up Australia programmes - it is everywhere. Now commercial skippers need to start to think about what they do on their own boats and start trying to bring back good old common sense (which of course isn’t common any more) and transfer some things they do on land and on cars, and homes and workplaces, into what they do on boats as coxswains. A commercial boat can be like a house (you live in it), a workplace and a car, because it transports you. So apply those same things you so at home, at work and in the car.
Without looking in a book, many answers can be found inside your own knowledge of the world. Today I had a Coxswain student from Geraldton, and almost every single question that the student ‘couldn’t find’ was actually in the students head, because as soon as I verbally asked the question, they knew the answer.
Just because a question is written, doesn’t mean you need to find a written answer.
If you really cannot think of an answer, and cannot find an answer online nor in any of the books, let me know what the exact question is, and I will re-word it in another way, or give you some clues that will make you get it….. I am trying to make you think differently, this is not school, this is life.
Use less fuel by operating better, planning better running less engine time, efficient engines, etc
Segregation may require some thought and a bit of wider ‘big picture’ view of other places where you segregate. Do you put your fuel storage containers next to the fire place? No. that is segregation. Do you leave matches in the kids bedroom? Do you leave engine oil in the fridge or acid in the food cupboard? Dogfood next to the kids biscuits and bird food near the breakfast cereals. No - obviously they might get mixed up.  Do you put frozen food in the cupboard and bottles of beer in the freezer? No. Why not? Because each has a reason why not. Perhaps some of the same reasons of why you put things in one place and not another in your home or workplace, will be the same on a boat. Think about segregation of items stored on boats…. Some relate to chemical reactions. It really is obvious, you do know the answer…. We aren’t just talking about a 4m dinghy, as a Coxswain you can operate a boat up to 12m, so what might be on that size boat?
We find some of our most academic smartest students struggle the most because they look for perfect 'written answers in a book', when a coxswains job is a fairly simple, physical real world job, and so you should be looking at that level of simple logical user (common) knowledge answers, that can be applied daily on boats.
If you still have problems, tell me the exact question you cannot answer, and I will help more.
Good luck.
Water Classifications

Que : I cannot find the water classes, or the local D and E areas in my state.

Ans : These are the current classes and distances. This is also on the AMSA website.

A = 200nm +
B = inside 200nm
C = inside 30nm
D and E are Partially Smooth and Smooth waters and are determined on a state by state basis and are actually gazetted, so written into law. Each state’s local Dept of Transport or equivalent body does this, so you can find WA’s D and E class waters on the WA Dept of Transport website.
D is Partially Smooth and like a bay or cove or that sort of place
E is usually in a lake, a river or somewhere with more protection
In other states look here;
Weather Forecast

It says I need a weather forecast for the day of my practical. Is it ok to print a 5 day forecast, as I don't have access to a printer at home?

You can look it up on the day with your phone if you have one that can access the internet. You need to show evidence, that you check the weather before each trip. A 5 day forecast is good when planning and yes email that to me and I will add it to your file, also on the day you need to check the weather before we depart, so you know what the up to date forecast is, for the day.

Where is the NSW SMS?

NSW SMS is in the USB thumb drive that came with your kit, look in the 'SMS and Risk' folder and in that is a subfolder 'NSW' which has the SMS you are looking for.

Worst Weather In My Area
What we are wanting to see is evidence that you observe the weather in your area - as this general weather awareness is what will make your boating safer or (if you are not observant) more dangerous and risky to yourself as a coxswain and any others that go with you in the boat. If you are not prepared for the weather then you may take a boat out into a place at a time that is about to become dangerous. For example you may take a small open boat offshore on a hot summers day and decide to head north west, and are not being prepared or aware of the strong sea breeze that is guaranteed to come in from the south west, meaning you have to bash into it on your way back to the jetty later that afternoon.
I see that you were born in 1979, so 45 years old, and you are Australian, so you must have been outdoors and experienced some extremes of weather, wherever you were, even if you have not been in Lancelin all of that time, you will have to be aware of the summer and the winter conditions, in general. If not, look at BOM records, or ask a local. To be a safe coxswain skipper you need to know the summer and the winter weather factors.
You would be aware that the main weather factors that will influence boating the most are simply these 4: wind, waves, currents and tides. Pretty much every single weather event, from a cyclone to the sea breeze, to a North Westerly storm front in winter, ALL of them merely change one or more of these four, the wind, waves, currents and tides and that can make it more unsafe or more risky to go out boating.
Three Different Water & Weather Conditions in Northern Australia
What we are looking for is not whether you can find something in a book or in the study materials, but to see whether you can find relevant information that isn't exactly set out in a book in the same way that it is asked. Like real life. What would you do if as a Coxswain you got a job working on a boat in the North, would you be aware of the biggest weather related dangers up there. The study materials do cover the items you correctly assumed, i.e. Cyclones, Tides and the one you missed, which is Currents. Logically as you would imagine, generally wherever there are big tides, there are strong currents and these three greatly influence boating.