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Old 23-12-2009, 13:44   #1
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Value of a Ham License to Someone Wanting to Crew?

It is a bit late to be asking this question, since the test is the 27th. But I am curious to know if holding a license would make me more valuable as crew to someone. I am in the United States, and so will get a license from the FCC. Is there any advantage to having an Extra license over a General class?

From my on-line test scores, I expect to pass the General exam by a slim margin. I have passed every sample exam I have taken, but my highest score has been about 80%. I have a long way to go on passing the General exam. My test scores are consistently about 60%, and I need about 75% to pass. I am having a difficult time focusing on the math. Since I have had some college physics, and have a BA in math, the math is not really new. I am just being lazy about the need to memorize the equations. I wish I had a text that presented things on a little higher level, so I could study the principles, and not just grind out the numbers.

Anyway, I am hoping that some conversation will help motivate me to apply myself a bit harder to the books. My decision to take the exam was a bit sudden. I had been thinking of buying myself a weather radio for my birthday, but I then realized that I simply do not need a radio, since my current boat is a 14 foot dinghy, and I would soon need a different radio when I bought a larger boat. Anyway, I had thought about studying for the ham exam several times, and so thought I might as well take it and be done with it. And yes, spending $30 on a radio that I don't need is a big deal for my frugal self. (Especially since the radio had mixed reviews.)

Since I was told the fee was the same whether I took one or all three exams, and since I have been suffering from holiday season blues, I thought I would extend my studying through Christmas, and try for all three levels of license. But I have hit a wall in my preparation for the exams, and my mood is deteriorating.
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Old 23-12-2009, 16:28   #2
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i just got my general and tech licenses within three weeks of each other. the extra license is a bit more demanding but also not something that is as generally useful on a boat unless you are really into ham radio as a hobby. The general license is what you need to do the various ham radio cruise nets and also to be able to do email over the ham radio and also to do the ship com radio/telephone link through WLO. All of that is what made me go do it - I have yet to do any of it this time of year but it seemed like a good idea to be able to fully use the ssb that is on the boat (for the marine ssb channels all you need is a ship station license and a restricted radiotelephone license, neither of which requires more than money and an address)

as for being useful for a crew member, why not? but i dont really know.
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Old 23-12-2009, 21:00   #3
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My main reason for going for the Extra is just because it is there. I did not realize that the code test was dropped until December 12th. The one advantage that having the Extra license MIGHT get me is that if technology changes in the next 10 years, as an Extra, I assume that I might be grandfathered into any new privileges.

And knowing some electronics could be useful when I DO get the boat! But I realize that cramming for a multiple guess exam, and actually troubleshooting a circuit are two very different skill sets!

And having more time than money, I figured the more I prepped for the test, the more likely I was to make an informed decision about a radio purchase!
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Old 24-12-2009, 07:21   #4
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Originally Posted by planetluvver View Post
. f holding a license would make me more valuable as crew to someone.
Absolutly no extra value as crew at all.

Any boat that has a ham radio on it will have a geek that wants to fiddle with the extra button.

Any paid crew boat will prolly not have ham on it as they will have satellite etc.

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Old 25-12-2009, 03:51   #5
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The license itself has no particular value unless it provides the holder with the ability and knowledge of how to use it effectively in an emergency. There are many marine nets that provide valuable information to cruisers.
So yes, study get a license - use the opportunity to be second operator and check in your boat's position, get weather, find spares for malfunctioning equipment etc.
Any skills that you bring as crew have value!
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Old 25-12-2009, 06:41   #6
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i suggest you do GMDSS licence instead. a bit more $$ but you can use it also abroad
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Old 25-01-2010, 01:33   #7
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For what it is worth, I just passed the General and Extra exams today. I had passed only the Techician level in January. I don't see any particular value in what I have learned, I will need practical experience, which requires a radio.

But the license is good for ten years. Hopefully, I will be on the water by then!

But I have just been reading about canal boats, and they may appeal to me more than sailing, since I really want to visit other cultures more than be on the open water. (Except for the idea that the wind is free, but from what I have read most boats need to run their engine to use the radio anyway.)

I will look into the GMDSS license.
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Old 25-01-2010, 02:00   #8
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Isn't the US "GMDSS" license the US equivalent of the internationally recognized "LRC" one? It does require one to be a legal US resident, but I would recommend doing the SRC and LRC certificates as that includes VHF and marine SSB use as well as being legally allowed to use GMDSS systems with Navtex and Inmarsat.
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