I thought I would share some information for those of you looking to do your MCA Officer of the watch, Master 500gt or Master 3000gt – particularly the oral prep. My name is David Pott, I have been in the industry for 10years and started like most, as a deckhand on a large motor yacht. I founded a company called South African Yachties, which offers a range of services to all nationalities. We specialize in Schengen Visa applications for first time applicants, as well as renewal visas for seasoned yachts men and women without them having to leave the EU. www.southafricanyachties.com
I recently did preparations for my oral for my Master 3000gt in Warsash UK. I sat the oral in the Southampton MCA branch and passed my first attempt!
On my path to the oral I completed training at a number of schools. These schools include PYT in Durban (let us book your courses free of charge just fill out the following inquiry form and we will get back to you http://www.southafricanyachties.co.za/forms/experienced-courses/ ) in Durban, Blue Water in Antibes, Marine Maritime Medicine in Cape Town and Warsash College in Southampton.
I believe that the modules leading up to your orals should be done where ever and when ever possible. Don’t get me wrong it would be fantastic to do it all at once at a school like Warsash but the harsh reality is that you are somewhat governed by our nationality, such as visa requirements, accommodation and costs involved.
The other thing that governs us is the movement of the boat you’re on, leave given and where that place called home is. I, being South African, really valued having PYT in Durban where I could get the advanced training and all modules up to Masters. This gave me the opportunity to mix a visit back home with some studies.
Blue water in Antibes was also very convenient for me as I could pop off the boat and do a quick course when the boat had some down time.
However when it comes to Oral exam prep there is no better place in my mind than Warsash, and more specifically the Masters who offer their services to prepare you for the biggest exam of your career.
It was recommended to me that I do the prep for Masters over two weeks as apposed to the 1 week required for OOW prep. I decided to take 16 days to prepare because I had no opportunity beforehand to study due to work commitments and having a young family with a very loud household. I did more than the suggested 21hours of one-on-one prep, and landed up doing around 30hours.
What did I do? Well I used the services of a lecturer called Tony Browne, I had experienced his teaching style while doing two of my modules at Blue Water. I like the way Tony communicates and expresses himself so I asked him to do some Face Time called with me prior to me going over to Southampton. This was great because he got my mind thinking as a Master. He has a fantastic website which offers a bunch of free study aids which I highly recommend. His details are as follows.
I contacted a highly recommended lecturer at Warsash his name is Barry Sadler. Barry is a lecturer as well as pilot in Southampton. Barry does the entire syllabus, or works with you to set out a schedule, should you be getting some tutoring from some other lectures. I like how structured Barry is. He provides slides and emails them to you afterwards so that you can revise what you have gone through with him. Barry, and all the lectures mentioned above, do not mind you recording your sessions. I highly recommend you do this so that you can recap by looking at the notes and listening to the way lecturers phrase things. Barry is very current with everything from the MCA and will email you some of the past questions from the exam center you will be visiting. To make bookings you can contact Barry as follows.
Barry’s price structure. All other lectures will do 50pounds an hour individual session on weekdays.
£50 per hour weekday individual
£65 per hour weekend individual
£70 per hour Group of 2 week day each paying £35
£90 per hour Group of 3 week day each paying £30
£60 per hour Skype weekday
£65 per hour Skype weekend
I also used John Williams, a very smart 82year old – going on 60J He was such a nice sincere man who used to be the head lecturer at Warsash. John will do one on one with you and is the best in the business for the Colregs. He helped me with Radar, Meteorology, and compasses. John likes to get the sessions in first thing in the morning starting at 8am. He offered me tremendous support and offered for me to come in for an emergency 20min free of charge should I need to clear something up… which I landed up taking him up on. John does some useful diagrams to illustrate a number of the rules of the road – and they are diagrams which you will never forget! John also has a file of printed out past questions which he is happy for you to borrow. His contact details are as follows.
Lastly I used Martin King, Martin is also a lecturer and Pilot like Barry. I called on Martin on short notice as I was a little concerned about chart work, symbols, routing charts and so on. He kindly fetched me from my accommodation and took me to his house where we got to work. It was very comfortable and he kept the coffee coming, which was very nice of him. Martin put my mind at ease, covered ECDIS with me and we touched on Radar. He lent me some charts and dropped me off at my accommodation afterwards. I really liked how Martin wished me all the best before the exam and gave me some encouraging words. He is a true gentleman! His details are as follows.
I had the pleasure of staying with Carole and Chris who are lovely people, they have a large house and rent out their rooms to students. The price is 30£ a night and this includes breakfast and dinner daily. Carole is kind enough to do your laundry (daily) for you and she will certainly fatten you up with her fantastic home cooked meals every evening, not to mention the deserts! They have an 11pm curfew which is great because it stops you from having to many pints over the weekend 😉 and it ensures you don’t have disturbances while trying to sleep. Carole also offers a lift to and from the college (1£ each way), so you can spend the day studying at the Warsash library. Warsash also has a cafeteria with some good meal options, as well as a Costa Coffee. I got Carols details along with a long list of others from Barry, who will email you should you be requiring accommodation.
I stopped all my prep sessions about 3 days before my exam, I studied about 8 hours a day, mainly at the library and then at Carole’s place over the weekends. I recorded every session and listened to the lectures at least twice. I made notes after the sessions and made a point of listening 100% during the lectures. I felt anxious every day and thought there was no way I could remember everything that these Masters had passed onto me. The anxiety and feeling of not knowing anything is normal so just keep putting in the hard work and you will be successful.
I have put together an exam report of what I can remember, but bear in mind most of these questions where discussion points and not a short one word answer. I think the most important thing to remember is that all these questions where aimed at me as being the Master not the OOW anymore so the perspective changes and that is the way you need to start thinking.
Exam Location: Southampton.
Oral time: 45min + 20 min of familiarization and debriefing.
Straight into my PYA service record book and talk of my previous boats.
1) You are joining your boat again but this time as Master. What documents will you look at?
2) Load line cert, what would you expect the surveyor to check? He was after handrails!
3) You head to sea what would you need to consider as master?
4) You are in Area A1 and hear there is bad weather on its way what do you do?
5) You hit something, established it was in deep water, no water ingress just damaged props and engines cannot be used. NUC lights and day shape, Towing and the difference between salvage and towing (arranged by company or done without notice to the management company)
6) Restricted visibility ahead what would you expect the OOW to have done before you get on the bridge. Hygrometer and how it is used, what does a large difference between wet and dry bulb mean?
7) Radar plot vessel Port side collision course action by me, action by the other boat. Then he continued the plot I completed the WOA triangle and found he had sped up trying to cross in front of me as we where still on a collision course.
8) Restricted visibility, vessel overtaking me, what is his and my action ref to RULE 19. He threw in all sound signals for vessels underway and stopped.
9) Crossing vessel from port, crossing vessel from stbd, Not to impede situation, Vessel 1 point of port bow (how can you well this is not a crossing situation by day?) I said it is close on head on so I would assume that and make a bold alteration to stud and cross port to port. Then Smartie board, fishing vessel port side outlying gear.CBD port side actions, NUC port side actions all cases he wanted to know my actions and responsibilities as well as other vessel.
10) Buoyage, Region a and be as individuals put down in front of me. Safe water, port lateral, preferred channel to stbd east cardinal. all with no top marks and he asked for lights and shapes
11) Compass, what errors we could get on Gyro, what affects the magnetic compass and where to find these corrections?
12) Chief Officer reports a crew member not working hard enough. My actions, then formal OLB entry (what gives me the right to reprimand the crew member?) He was after contractual clause and Masters discretion. This was mentioned afterwards and he wanted to hear the difference between masters discretion and masters overriding authority!
13) Distress, what are the conditions for not going to help?
14) Asked me how I have done, and I said I could have done better and that I feel only a small amount of my hours of prep where sampled. He said “you passed”! J
15) Full discussion about stability, draw a GZ curve (got half way and he said ok) then draw a curve with negative GM, gave all the min requirements and explained stiff, tender vessel and what was best for a yacht. What is stability about?
That’s all I can remember, his style was creating a scenario and continuing on with discussion so hard to pin point exactly what the questions where.
A short discussion afterwards. He stressed that as master you need to back every action you make with Law and if a decision is not 100% clear to you it will not stand up in court. No sacking for the sake of it and no rash decisions without thinking it through.
He was a fair examiner and offered me water when he could see me stressing. He also approached questions from different angles if I was not giving him what he wanted.
I hope this blog is going to offer you some useful information and I wish you all the success with your studies good luck!