June 26, 2014 
In this issue: 
- New this week: The Local Notice to Mariners link!
- In the Captain's Corner "Do you know what you've got?" - DSC radios and Rescue 21.
- The topic in Frequently Asked Questions this week is: "What about drug testing?" 
- Don't forget to check out and pass along the dates of our next Captain's License Classes. 
- Our live online classes are one of the most convenient ways ever to get your Captain's License. Make sure you get a look at how it works.   See "Our Live Online Classes" at the bottom of this page.
We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to your suggestions and feedback!


Lori and Rachel Cortez

CQuest Marine 

(510) 573-0641


Captain's Corner

Weekly questions about the ins and outs of running a passenger vessel.

Do you know what you've got?

VHF Radios Equipped with DSC 
Rescue 21

From the Coast Guard's Rescue 21 page:

Rescue 21 for Boaters

Rescue 21 will increase the Coast Guard's ability to respond to distress calls in the coastal zone. However, you can help us improve response time by using a marine-band VHF-radio equipped with digital selective calling (DSC).


Why use a radio equipped with DSC?

With the push of a button, your DSC radio will send an automated digital distress alert containing your Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, position, if interfaced with GPS,  and the nature of distress to other DSC-equipped vessels and rescue facilities. As a result, the Coast Guard is able to respond more quickly and to more accurately identify the location of the distress call. For more information on DSC and how to send alerts and test your equipment, check out the Coast Guard's Navigation Center website.


Captains, the bottom line is that when you've got a DSC radio that is connected to your GPS and you have obtained an MMSI number, less than a second after you hit the distress button the Coast Guard knows who you are and where you are and they're coming to the rescue! 


The Coast Guard's Rescue 21 has been operational along the entire Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts of the continental U.S. for several years. Yet there are still an alarming number of distress calls received through DSC radios that do not contain position information and/or have no registered identity. 

Help the Coast Guard help you:
  • FIRST Obtain a Maritime Mobile Installation Identity (MMSI) and enter it into your radio. MMSI numbers are issued by the Federal Communications Commission if your vessel otherwise requires a station license, or BOATUS, (http://www.boatus.com/mmsi), Sea Tow (http://www.seatow.com/mmsi), or the U.S. Power Squadrons (http://www.usps.org/php/mmsi)
  • Ensure any information originally provided is updated as changes occur.
  • ( about your vessel and contact information)
  • THEN Interconnect your radio to a GPS receiver using a two-wire NMEA 0183 interface on all DSC-equipped marine radios and on most GPS receivers.  Instructions should be provided in the radio and GPS operators manual.  Further information is provided and will be routinely updated  
  • in 


I guarantee you Captains, that installing your radio and gps unit was much more difficult than making this connection.  The navcen link at the end of the paragraph above has some great information and another helpful link is this Wiring Guide spreadsheet. Or get out the instruction booklets, jump on the equipment manufacturers' websites, call your buddy the "electronics genius" but  do what it takes to get this simple connection made. Then follow the links in this article to apply for your MMSI number.  


Your families and passengers are counting on you to keep them safe.  Once you've got your gps hooked up and your MMSI number registered you can count on the Coast Guard to use all of your information to find you fast if things go wrong!


Our Live Online Classes
A New Way to Get Your Captain's License! 
We have received an approval from the Coast Guard to conduct all of our Captain's License Classes in an online format. These are NOT the sit-by-yourself-in-front-of-the-computer classes that you may have seen elsewhere. These are live, online, face-to-face by webcam classes with an instructor and five students at a time on a secure platform. 
It's a new and convenient way to get your license:  
- Easy to fit into your schedule  
- All course materials will be mailed to you 
- No daily traffic hassles  
Find out more about our online classes here:

In This Issue
Quick Links
Like us on Facebook
Find us on Pinterest


Our Next Captain's License Classes
Remember the Coast Guard is currently taking 8 - 10 weeks to process license applications and our Summer Classes are starting to fill up!

There are still a few seats left in each of these classes!

Start Dates:
July 7 Day Class
July 21 Evening Class
Aug 4 Day Class
Aug 18 Evening Class
Give us a call to reserve your seat!
510 573-0641
Check out our website for classes scheduled throughout the rest of the year.

Frequently Asked Questions
Here we cover the Who - What - Where - When - Why and How of Captain's Licensing

What about drug testing? 

Here's the scoop about drug testing for license applications from the Coast Guard National Maritime Center website:

A drug test is required for all transactions EXCEPT increases of scope, duplicates, and International Endorsements (STCW). In order to meet drug testing requirements, you must choose and provide one of the below options.


Option One: Provide the results of an approved drug test.

Option Two: Provide a letter attesting to participation in random drug testing programs.

Option Three: Provide a letter attesting to pre-employment drug testing.

None of these options should be confused with the random drug testing program required of all "marine employers". Marine employers include the self employed, so even a one-person passenger vessel operation has to have a drug testing program. The Coast Guard's Marine Employers Drug Testing Guide is available here:

The Local Notice 
to Mariners
Here is a link to the latest edition of the Local Notice to Mariners:


Of particular interest this week is:


- A new obstruction in the San Pablo Bay area with a "least known depth" of 8 feet. (Isn't this the area of that plane crash back in April? Could this be plane wreckage?) This information should be used to update our charts and navigation publications.


Continuing from earlier entries in the LNM:
- Details regarding the testing of electronic aids to navigation in San Francisco Bay. 


If you don't have AIS (Automatic Identification System) on your boat yet, take a look for yourself here:



Zoom in on San Francisco Bay and you'll see pink diamond shapes like this one on Mile Rocks Light:
These represent the virtual ATONs. If you click on the diamond you'll see the name of the aid.


- Information regarding navigating in the area of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Demolition Safety Zone. 
You can subscribe and have the Local Notice to Mariners delivered by email each week: 

Get Your Captain's License - Follow Your Dream!

Copyright � 2014. All Rights Reserved.