No Brakes!

No Brakes!!


All out!  All the time!  This is how a majority of recreational boaters seem to drive.  Be it in channels, in harbors, in anchorages, all out; all the time.


Candidates for the captain's license are often confused when we study Rule 6 of the Navigation Rules.  In Part B, Steering and Sailing Rules, Section 1 of the Coast Guard Navigation Rules, Rule 6 states that "Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and condition."


Without speed limit signs posted on the water boaters will interpret the speed limit to mean whatever speed they feel comfortable driving at.  Rule 6 continues on to identify specific conditions and situations that you must reduce your speed.  Even though there is no posted speed limit you MUST reduce your speed according to the rules.  Of course we all know that we should reduce speed in adverse weather and sea conditions.  Vision is impaired in restricted visibility and the ride is very uncomfortable, and unsafe if you are trying to hammer through rough seas.


One common event that fails to comply with this Rule is driving in congested areas.  I have seen channels leading to major ports on the Great Lakes heavily trafficked and most recreational boaters will travel at a higher rate of speed weaving in and out of the slower traffic in the channel.  Rule 6 is very specific about slowing down in high traffic density.  Remember – no brakes and you must keep your vessel under control at all times.


Traveling at night presents its own set of problems.  Back scatter from shore lights.  Depth perception reduced.  Unable to see floating hazards (logs, fish nets, etc.).  Too many lights turned on at or near the helm station.  Yet, there are those recreational boaters that insist on traveling as fast as they can on night trips.  Rule 6 identifies “State of Visibility” as another condition to reduce speed.


Knowing how your boat operates is important.  Watch a yacht delivery captain as he approaches a new area with a boat he/she is unfamiliar with.  The delivery captain will reduce to bare steerage to be able to control the vessel.  How long does it take your vessel to stop?  What distance does it take your vessel to stop from your normal cruising speed even with full reverse?  You will be surprised at the distance covered.  That is why the Coast Guard insists that “Manageability of the Vessel” be taken in account when determining safe speed.


Does this mean that Captain Joe is against driving with the wind in your face, your hair blowing back and heading for your favorite anchorage at a high speed so there is more time in the sun?  No, it means consider your speed when underway.  Slow down in traffic.  Slow down when traveling at night or in restricted visibility.  Slow down in channels, canals, fairways and dock approaches. Remember to slow down when necessary.  The whole idea of boating is to have fun safely.


The best way to learn how to operate your vessel safely is to take a boating class.  Check with your local USCG Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron.  Better yet is an on-the- water class from On Board Academy.    You've got the helm!

Get Your Captain's License

Get Your Captain's License!

Many boaters will come to me with the question, "Should I get my captain's license?"  Of course I do!  That's part of my job.  Seriously, my next question is, "What are you doing that makes you think you will need a captain's license?

Most of the responses I get are that the individual wants to make some extra money by taking folks out fishing or for a boat ride.  In other words, hiring out your boat and your services.  The answer is very easy.  YES, you need a Captain's License for that venture.  If you are sharing the expenses equally among you and your riders; no.  But as soon as you divide the expense among the riders without counting your portion of expenses or one of your riders wants to "leave a little extra" you are in violation of United States Code of Federal Regulations.  This makes you subject to some nasty fines.

The next question I get asked is, "Do I need to go to a Captain's School to get my license?" 

That depends.  How are your math skills; particularly basic algebra and geometry?  How are your study skills?  Are you disciplined enough to stay focused and to task for 10 hours or more each day?  Do you have all the required course materials and supplemental texts to pass all four mods?  Tell me about your charting experience?"

I usually see shoulders droop, lips bend downward, and the fire leave the eyes.  Then I ask, "Do you get the idea of what we do at "Captain's School?"  Do you understand why our success rate is so high?  It is kind of like hiring a professional African Big Game guide to take you fishing.  He may be an expert in his area, but he knows nothing about fishing.  That is what I am here for.  I am the expert in the area of education methods that will take you to your captain's license in 10 days versus months and months of study.  I am an intructor with US Captain's Training, a leader in maritime education.  The course is USCG approved.  The instructors are USCG approved.  I am there to help you attain your license.  US Captain's Training instructors stay with you until you have the license in hand.

So why would you want to attend Captain's School at Captain Joe's On Board Academy?  I can give you 10 reasons:
1.  Small classes (max. of six) to ensure your success.
2.  Course development and materials through US Captain's Training.
3.  Experienced classroom instructor familiar with education techniques and strategies to improve your learning.
4.  Learn by doing techniques.
5.  Stay with you until you have your license in hand.
6.  Learning materials directed to your class.
7.  Patient, understanding instructor who brings materials to your level.
8.  Insturctor who lives near and works the same waters as you.
9.  On the water experiences in both sail and power from 9 ft to 95 ft, outboards to twins.
10. USCG approved class and instructor/examiner (no trips to Toledo).

What next? Make the decision that you are going to move forward and get your license.  Next log onto and click on the link to US Captain's Training.  There Sue will lead you through the process to register for Captain Joe's class.  It is that simple.  In a matter of weeks you could be on the water earning money for what you do best whether it be taking guests fishing, sailing or just for a boat ride.  You could even be offering your services to boaters when they are in need of a tow. It all starts by going to Captain Joe's On Board Academy website.  Click out of this blog and get to the website so I can see you in the next class.  You've got the helm!

Captain Joe's On Board Academy Announces New Website

Captain's Joe's On Board Academy Establishes New Website

August 16, 2011 – Green Bay, Wisconsin. There is a new way to find captain's license training, on-the-water boat training, vessel transport and delivery services, on-the-sea and shore marriage ceremonies, and related captain's services in Green Bay, Appleton, Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan:  Captain Joe's On Board Academy has created and published a new website that highlights its many captain's services.


With its office in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Captain Joe's On Board Academy provides captain's license training, on-the-water boat training, vessel transport and delivery, marriage ceremonies at sea and on the shore, private yacht captain, and captain's companion services for boaters in Wisconsin and Michigan.


All captain's license training and examining takes place in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the On Board Academy provides you with assistance until you obtain your license.  The On Board Academy is proud of its high pass rate and offers courses in:  Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel, Masters Captain's License, and Auxiliary Sail and Towing Endorsement.


The on-the-water boat training service provides beginners and experienced boaters with proper safety and navigation rules.  Boaters can also receive crew training and cruise planning.

Additional services include vessel relocation and marriage ceremonies for candidates eligible for marriage in the state of Wisconsin.


Owner Captain Joe McGinnis is a United States Coast Guard approved instructor and examiner with more than 35 years of on the water experience.  Associated with US Captain's Training of Michigan, Captain Joe has been helping Wisconsin boaters earn their captain's licenses, receive on the water boat training, obtain safe boating instruction, and have their prized vessels safely transported, delivered and relocated for the past 6 years.


A lifelong teacher and experienced captain's license instructor, Captain Joe is a USCG 100 Ton Master of Steam, Motor, Auxiliary Sail Licensed Classroom Teacher.  Captain Joe is knowledegable in first aid and works hard to make learning applicable and fun.  A former boating instructor for a national boating organization and a current instructor for US Captain’s Training, he utilizes his professionalism to make safe boating happen for people who are serious about boating.


The new website highlights and promotes the many captain's services offered by Captain Joe and his On Board Academy.  It features a Home page, Captain's Licensing page, On-the-Water Training page, Captain's Services page, Frequently Asked Questions page, Blog, About Captain Joe page, and a Contact page.  Browse the new website and learn more about Captain Joe and the On Board Academy at


About Captain Joe:

Captain Joe lives and operates his business in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and his Captain’s Course training from Chapman’s School of Seamanship in Stuart, Florida.


Captain Joe also holds a Lifetime Teaching License and a Substitute Teaching License for the State of Wisconsin.  He is an Authorized Provider (Instructor) Basic First Aid, CPR, AED; Professional CPR, AED; Emergency Response; Wilderness and Remote First Aid from the American Red Cross.


In addition, Captain Joe has extended experiences as a Classroom Teacher, Trainer, Camp Director, Manager, Coach, Cook, Dad, and Grandpa.  He has approximately 43 years as an Educator/Instructor, 35 years of on water experiences, and he holds awards, recognitions, and achievements from various professional, religious, and civic groups.


Captain Joe is also a Member of the Great Lakes Captains Association.


Contact Information:
On Board Academy
Captain Joe McGinnis
1276 Bayport Terrace
Green Bay, WI 54313
Phone: 920.619.9658

Captain's License Classes

2018 - 2019 Licensing Classes


To Register for a Class:

1)  Contact Captain Joe; OR

2)  Register Online - Click Here





2018 Schedule


January 20 - 26

February 17 - 23

March 17 - 23

October 13 - 19


2019 Schedule

January 19 - 25

February 16 - 22

March 16 - 22

October 12 - 18






Other dates available by special arrangement.  Contact Capt. Joe at 920.619.9658



**Note: All classes are held in the Green Bay, WI area


Links to More Information:

♦  Captain's License Info

♦  On-the-Water Training

♦  Vessel Transport Services

♦  Private Captain

♦  Companion Captain

♦  Marriage Ceremonies

♦  Website Map

♦  Skippers Choice Supply

♦  Green Bay Sail & Power Squadron



Contact Captain Joe

Click Right Here

1 (920) 619-9658