SVOP: small vessel operator proficiency

This is all guesswork because I won’t take an SVOP course until sometime early in 2017, probably mid to late February at the earliest, nor do I expect to get a job because I’ve got it.

Forty-some years ago I spent 6 months on a tugboat operating in and around Vancouver’s False Creek pulling scows in to the Creek from the then existing ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ mooring buoys. Assisting bigger tugs as they pulled scows through the Kitsilano railway trestle – thankfully my skipper never sunk a boat doing that – and a variety of odds and sods towboat work. So that ought to buy me some credibility, eh?

Hell, at 02:30 (pretty much the middle of the night) and in pouring rain, I find myself trying to haul up mooring lines with a pike-pole. I’m soaking wet in rain gear, I’m cold, bitch, bitch, bitch. So much for the romance of the sea. Brrr.

And then for pretty much the next 40 years the biggest thing I drove on the water was a really, really nice 16′ aluminum ‘tinnie in the Queen Charlottes, now once again Haida Gwaii. There were kayaks, and rowboats, but nothing powered until a couple years ago when my ‘new to me’ rowboat got me involved with Jericho Rescue. Well, now I have to have a PCOC (Power Craft Operator Certificate) and I have to write an exam.

So I called a local Power Squadron’s training officer and said that ‘more or less all I remember from 40 years ago is ‘red right returning’ and they said “You’ll pass.” I did. And I got the radio ticket. And the low-level first aid with CPR and AED. Shocking, eh?

But I thought I’d like to know more about buoyage, and ‘aids to navigation,’ and other stuff. So I thought, naturally enough I suppose, of Power Squadron… but my searching also led me to the SVOP. And, well, the SVOP is the lowest possible version of a commercial vessel operator ticket. No more than 5 passengers, no more than 5 GRT (that’s not very big in boat terms, though I notice there are ‘cargo’ boats built specifically to meet the ticket limits) and I really don’t think you can call yourself ‘captain,’ maybe ‘Master,’ but not Captain. Captain is a much tougher gig.

Hell, ‘Captain’ in most Canadian cases includes the trauma-inducing Marine Advanced First Aid written of earlier, and that is only a tiny part of the qualifications…

But I’ll be happy with SVOP. Anything more I want I can take with Power Squadron; I’m sure I can find some chinos and tasseled shoes so as to kinda/sorta/maybe not be too noticeably and outsider. 😉

Time to read; knots and BVMs and airways and shock and signal flags and dayshapes and Not Under Command and ‘underway’ and ‘making way’ and burn care, eye injuries, on and on and on…

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