Local man spearheads captains course

Published 8:55 am Monday, October 29, 2007

By By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
Bobby Rees has a grand vision for the future of what Beaufort County has to offer visitors, focusing on the waterways that make it unique — the Pamlico River and Sound.
To that end, he has initiated the creation of a group of Coast Guard-certified charter captains that will eventually offer unique vacation opportunities for people visiting the Pamlico River. He has also brought to Washington an opportunity for unlicensed boaters to obtain their captain’s license.
Rees envisions a fleet of boats in and around Washington that could be chartered to and from Ocracoke and other Outer Banks locations and captained by members of his organization.
Rees is also proposing the fleet as a resource that law enforcement or emergency management agencies could tap into in the event of a natural disaster. At previous meetings of the group, Rees has partnered with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Fire-EMS-Rescue and state wildlife agencies in his endeavor.
Rees is working with Worldwide Marine Training in Oriental to help area boaters obtain their licenses. That company’s owner, Larry Walker, is the nearest individual qualified to both teach preparatory courses and to administer the licensing exam. So, though Rees, why not bring to Washington instead of interested boaters having to commute to Oriental while to take the course.
Walker held a training course in the old Park Boat Company building on U.S. Highway 17 from April 21 to April 28. Since then, Rees said he “had no idea how many captains and people who would be interested in this are around here.”
So, he’s bringing the course back with the help of Walker and the fire department, which has agreed to let Rees using its training room to house both meetings of the captains association and another course in December. The next course offered will be held Dec. 1 through Dec. 8 from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. each day. The license exam will be given on Dec. 8.
The instruction portion of the course is 56 hours and runs for seven consecutive days. The class costs $799.
The next N.C. USCG Licensed Captains Association meeting will be held Nov. 30 from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. with a guest speaker from Hobucken Coast Guard Station.
The USCG “Operator of Uninspected Vehicles” license allows the holder to captain any vessel weighing less than 100 gross tons with six paying passengers plus crew. Applicants must be 19 years old, must pass a physical exam and a drug test and must be U.S. citizens.