Coffee County Lake News Article

TowBoatU.S. Owner’s to bring Sea School to Lake Martin

TowBoatUS - Martin, Smith
Posted: 6/6/2012

Nicki Dozier

Earlier this year, Alexander City native Jackson Dozier moved back to the Lake Martin area to serve the boating public with his business, TowBoatU.S. Lake Martin. Now, he and his wife Nicki hope to expand on water opportunities in the area by partnering with Sea School to bring a U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License course to the lake.

Dozier, who earned his captain’s license in 2002, originally met Steve Johnson, a professional instructor with Sea School, at The Atlanta Boat Show in January. Since then they have been working together to plan a course on Lake Martin.

According to Johnson, Sea School is a U.S. Coast Guard approved and regulated professional mariner education institution founded in 1977 that gives instruction and testing on U.S. Coast Guard licensing. It is considered one of the premier license training schools in the country throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Dozier added that the far-reaching goal of TowBoatU.S. Lake Martin in regard to the training is to license prospective boaters not only for increased safety and compliance, but to enable interested boaters the opportunity to work within the company.

“At some point here in the near future, my goal is to be able to expand and bring another boat to the lake,” he said. “But I need somebody with a captain’s license to run that boat.

“It’s not just geared towards that though – this is a great way to gain more knowledge about boating.”

In order to teach the course, Dozier and Johnson must receive a minimum of 10 participants, and once enrollment is achieved the course will be held over two consecutive “fat weekends” – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – at River North Marina.

The syllabus for the course will be divided into four parts:

  • Deck General – basic boating information, safety, emergency response, anchoring and other necessary topics to ensure proper operation
  • Navigation General – waterway marking systems, weather, trip planning, and local knowledge
  • Rules of the Road – detailed instruction for operating a vessel in the vicinity of others to improve safety and reduce the incidence of collision
  • Chart Plotting – master the chart plotting skills used by navigators.  

A total of 54 hours are required by the U.S. Coast Guard to qualify for the license. A professional proctor administers a test at a later date, normally a few weeks after, giving the student plenty of time to prepare. “Once you have your class you have one year to submit your sea time,” Dozier said.

“To get your license you have to have 360 days at sea, and a day is considered more than four hours a day at sea.” According to Johnson, the premise for the course is required under Title 46 from the Code of Federal Regulations. According to Title 46, people who carry other passengers for payment, whether it’s fuel, money, food, etc., have to be licensed in order to carry those passengers, he said.

The cost of the course is $550 and in addition there are other requirements with associated costs such as drug testing, a medical exam, and application processing. Johnson, who has served on numerous vessels including U.S. Navy and U.S. Merchant Marines and has served as instructor at many training institutions throughout his nearly 40-year-career, said the goal at Sea School is to “practice not only expert instruction but a transfer of professional experience.”

“I spent 28 years in service in the Coast Guard,” Johnson said. “So we have the training, the background, the experience, etc. to pass this information on.”

For more information on the course and dates, contact TowBoatU.S. Lake Martin at 256-307-1313.

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