Back to the Books

I’ve been in class for the past 10 days in a 100 ton
Master and operator of uninspected vessel (OUPV) class
here in Juneau. The instructor is a former Coastie
and Marine Highway mate, and it’s run through the
University of Alaska, Southeast.

The class involves testing for exams regarding general
vessel deck questions, marine navigation, “rules of
the road”, and use of charts, compass and plotting.
The rules of the road is the biggest hurdle.

The test has the highest minimum passing score (90%),
and a large body of intricate information to use. For
example, what is the lighting configuration for a
power-driven vessel pushing a barge ahead on the
Mississippi River above the Huey Long Bridge at
anchor? After instruction and studying, you get to a
point where you can get an 83% or 86 every time, but
getting to the 90% was a matter of going over the
information over and over and over again until it
finally sank in by osmosis. I luckily passed on the
first try. What a relief.

I headed home early from work and slept off several
days of anxiety. You get 3 tries, and then have to
wait 3 months to try again. I can see others in the
class who haven’t passed yet with the same anxiety and
sleep deprevation I had. Not like we’re studying to
be doctors or anything, but the course has been
challenging and intense and worthwhile.

We’re in the grip of our 3rd cold stretch this year.
Although zero doesn’t sound cold – especially for
Alaska – I can tell you I’d take 25 below in Fairbanks
any day versus 10 degrees and the moist wind here on
the water howling any day. Good time to be inside in
a class, that’s for sure.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801