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Captains association coming together

By By DAN PARSONS;Staff Writer
Having held its second meeting and with another captains license course going on this week in Washington, Bobby Rees’ vision of developing an N.C.-Coast Guard Licensed Captains Association is on its way to becoming a reality.
The association plans to cooperate with existing maritime organizations, like the Coast Guard. Bryce Adams, who spoke at the association’s meeting Friday, has been in the Coast Guard for eight years. Adams’ involvement represents a common interest between private and governmental agencies to educate boaters and create opportunities for safe maritime experiences for visitors, Rees said.
Adams has been stationed in Hawaii, Hatteras, and now at Hobucken. He is a Boatswains Mate Second Class and serves as the Operations Petty Officer and Weapons Petty Officer at Station Hobucken. Adams spoke on the requirements for receiving a “6-pack” license — one that allows a captain to carry up to six paying passengers on a vessel weighing less than 100 tons.
Rees said that the captains association plans to cooperate, rather than compete with service providers like the Coast Guard Auxiliary and others, like Sea Tow.
In January 2008, Sea Tow will begin offering services in the area, something Rees said will make the Pamlico River and Sound more attractive to serious boaters and boating enthusiasts. Sea Tow and Towboat US, operating out of Belhaven will provide boat-recovery services in the Pamlico River and Sound in addition to that provided by Coast Guard Station Hobucken.
But the captain’s association hopes to provide the amateur boater with services prior to them ever being in distress at sea and hopes to allow visitors to enjoy the water without incident. With a tightly knit group of local licensed boat captains, Rees sees that as a distinct possibility in Beaufort County.
Thanks to Rees and Larry Walker, owner of Worldwide Marine Training in Oriental, more area boaters will have the opportunity to become USCG licensed captains. 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, Washington Fire/EMS/Rescue Chief Jimmy Davis has lent Rees the use of his training room at the fire department on Market Street in Washington. Walker began holding a second week-long course there Saturday. Each course educates and tests up to 16 potential captains, which add to Rees’ ranks.
Once those ranks swell to a large enough extent, Rees envisions a local pool of local captains that will “ work in conjunction with the common interest in insurance, safety, and regulations that govern when you are on the waters of the rivers, creeks, sounds, of North Carolina, and the commerce waterway known as the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) plus the Atlantic Ocean.”
Rather than compete with charter captains already operating in the area and on the Outer Banks, Rees envisions his association will provide services that augment what charter-fishing and pleasure-boat captains already offer in eastern North Carolina.
All local Coast Guard certified captains are invited to join the association. Rees also hopes to continue partnering with Walker to bring future licensing course to Washington. The association began its official sign-up at its Friday meeting. Memberships dues are pro-rated and shirts and hats with the association are available by visiting www.joesizemore.com.