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.


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.

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

Part Payments

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

Ans : Yes, it is possible to do it in 9 small ‘chunks’ and pay for each chunk as you have the funds.

If you take a look at the booking page for the Coxswain on

If you click on CUSTOMISE you can see 6 separate ‘groupings’ of items. You can choose any group 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.

The last of the 6 groupings is the AMPA which can be paid for on the final day, when you come in to finish the final assessment.

Below these yellow blocks there are a few other things you can choose also, and you can book and pay for these at any time or even right at the end, on the last day if you want to.

You get what you book for and what you pay for. When you book and pay for a course, you start it immediately within a day usually, so you pay for what you get, when you get it. We don’t require pre-payment of anything, but we also do not send course content to poeple unless they have enrolled and paid.

I hope I have worded that in an understandable way? Let me know if I need to explain it another way.

Here is a summary of what the costs are (when I wrote this in our FAQ, however the booking form is the price, so thats the actual reliable price, this email is just a copy paste of info I send to people from our FAQ that gets asked over and over, so we just copy paste it). The exact $ numbers may change. The FAQ is about guidance, not facts on costing, which need to be checked in the booking form:

People start at the top and work their way down the list.
(prices as at 21 March 2019) check in the booking form.

Grade 3 units (incl GST): $627
Grade 2 units (incl GST): $1,045
Grade 1 Engineering (incl GST): $484
Grade 1 Navigation (incl GST): $242
Grade 1 Survival (incl GST): $275
AMPA (incl GST): $649
ICoC (incl GST): $110
Boat Hire (incl GST): $250
VHF (incl GST): $200
TOTAL (incl GST): $3882

Total Cost

Que : The booking form says a different cost to the page about the coxswain.
Que : The booking form says a different cost to an advert I saw somewhere about the coxswain.
Que : The booking form says a different cost to xxxx

Ans : The booking form has the correct the cost. We update the booking form, and then all other webpages and adverts are updated one at a time etc. The problem sometimes occurs with websites where there is a cache that sometimes stores old pages, old text or old content.

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

Radio Exam

Que : When should I do the RADIO EXAM?

Ans : You need to have a VHF Radio Licence to get the Coxswain Grade 1. It is a good idea to separate the Marine Radio licence from the Coxswains as it does have a lot of numbers and facts to cram in. Most students book them both, but then decide to do the radio exam a week or so after the coxswains practical. The radio exam can be done 7 days a week, even after hours many days is possible as it doesn't take that long to do the multiple choice test.


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

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.


Que : Do I need Seatime?

Ans : You don’t need to have completed the SeaTime, in order to do our course, you can do our course and then get the seatime later, afterwards.

We have nothing to do with SeaTime assessment.
AMSA assess it.

AMSA update the info about it and place that on their website

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. The AMSA 560 form is no longer valid, 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.

I have attached the Sea Service Guidance link on AMSA website. It is fairly easy, not like the Masters levels. Many people do it 100% on mates rec boats and simply get the mate to fill in the form with 1 year per line saying x # of days this year, X# of days last year etc…

Qualifying Sea Service - Australian Maritime Safety Authority

also the AMSA Coxswain 1 Guidance paper tells you the Sea Service amount required.

Coxswain Grade 1 (NC) - Australian Maritime Safety Authority

You also don’t need to do the sea service before the course, just before you go to AMSA, so the course can be done before the sea service.

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.

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…

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.

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.