Sunday, September 20, 2020

Passing the 100 Ton Master’s Exam “RULES OF THE ROAD”

Two important exams for passing the USCG 100 Ton Master’s Exam are Navigation and The Rules of the Road.  Both of which you must have a 90% grade on to pass.  I did two things which helped me get a 98% on the exam first pass.

The first was watching the YouTube video from ( everyday twice a day for two weeks.  Secondly I wrote the following poem and memorized it.  I hope these help you pass the exam as well.

Sailing Poem

One night while on watch I spotted there,

My ship’s captain with graying hair,

As I walked aft, he spotted me,

I said, “what does it take to be a captain, like thee”,

He puff his pipe, his face turned a frown,

“You’ll memorize this lad, so jot it down,

The rules of the road is what you’ll need

So pay attention lad, and take heed,”

“When you see another sailing ship at night, you’ll know

If the lights are green it’s off we go,1

If it’s red, heave too, it’s his port ahead1

A white light of 135 degrees, it’s her stern,” he said.

“The stink pots are all just like this2,

Blood over water, that boat’s catching fish,

Green over white they’re trawling a-head,

But red over red means her captain is dead.3

“Lights white over white shows a short tow in sight;

Yellow over white thus his hawser is tight.4

“Three whites in a row, it’s a hell of a tow, 5

A yellow over yellow, that pushy inland Capt’n Joe 6”.

“Oversea three reds means draft is way low,7

White over the red, you’ll know, it’s pilot below

Three green’s on a tree, there’s a mine sweep near me,8

Two reds bounding white, RAMs ar’ they be.9

“A white, two reds going down, she’s aground, still at sea, 10

Two whites apart, a lower red sided by green, the bow of 50m it be 11

One white high, a lower red sided by green, a small streamer head on

Over 100m,  two whites apart, a lower red and green, her deck lights too are all go on”

“During the day the messages all contain,

With some balls, diamonds, a can, and cones are in this refrain,

Two balls on a dredge, stay clear, go around,13

But two diamonds you pass by and you’ll be sound.13

“Two cones, apexes that touch, he’s fishing or trawling as such

An apex pointed to the ground, motor is on and sails go down14,

When the apex is up, 100m of fishing gear near,

A can in her mast means the draft disappeared.”

“One ball hanging high, at anchor in her bed 15

Two balls in a row, the captain is dead below,

Three balls, stay clear, aground is she,

Two balls bounding a diamond, it’s a RAM let her be.”

“One diamond in the air, means simply there’s a tow back there,

Another diamond at the end you’ll see 200m submerged beware

Tow boats towing can be RAMs or NUCs

If three balls in a row they’re still stuck. 16

“Over night rooms for sale plus supper, is nothing Jack,

Or’taking, NUC, RAM, Fishing, Sailing, Power, Seaplane is that stack.

A special case they tell me, is up on the Mississippi 

Tugs they have no masthead as they go, the bridges are too low.”

“Memorize these words, you’ll be a captain that knows the rules,

But caution and beware as if you’re stand on and the others are fools,16

Stand watch all night and you’ll be fine,

At your own captain’s table you’ll dine.”


1. Rule 12 for which side the red and green sidelights go on

2. Stink pot is a vessel under power.

3. Captain’s not literally dead, the vessel is Not Under Command NUC something is broken on the vessel.

4. Hawser is a tow line being towed from behind the tow boat.

5. Rule 24d a 200m tow in length

6. Rule 24f Inland pushing ahead.

7. Rule28 International only vessel contained by draft

8. On a tree meaning the cross of the mast with a light on each branch top, port, and starboard.

9. Restricted in Ability to Maneuver RAM 

10. Rule 30 a vessel aground at night or limited visibility

11. Rule 23 a

12. Rule 27d Dredge

13. Rule 27d Dredge

14 Rule 25c

15. Rule 30

16 Stuck - being aground….

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