Let me start right at the top with the dates for the fall meeting. The Annual Fall meeting of the MCBA will be held October 21, 22, & 23, at the DoubleTree Hotel, 650 E. 64th St. Holland, MI 49423 (616) 394-0111.
Pencil in the date and place on your calendar, ipad, iPhone, icalendar or whatever device you might have, right now. This will be an important meeting. As the new USCG random drug program is rolled out, there are sure to be issues and questions to be addressed during the main conference program on Saturday, October 22. More program information in the next newsletter.
Here are a few other housekeeping items to remember: Iíve mentioned them before, but they merit repeating from time to time. Here goes:
Donít forget to renew you documentation. Itís free to renew, but you must do it annually. Is your boat due for renewal of your Michigan registration? Charterboat registration is $45 for three years regardless of size. Insist on it even if your Sec. of State office says otherwise. Bring your Captains License, & your MI inspection document, just in case you have to show them. Also, as I have said before, itís a very good idea to photocopy all your important documents: Certificate of Registration, Certificate of Documentation, Certificate of Inspection; any and all pertinent drug program documents. This includes your Twic (front & back) and your USCG document, front and back; and if itís the new passport variety, all the pages and the cover. Keep copies at home and on the boat, and anywhere else you might ever need them. This can save you a lot of time and trouble when you need them most.
Did you know itís against the rules to take on fuel with passengers on board? It is. If you ever go to the fuel dock with customers aboard, be sure to have them disembark before fueling. Itís the law.
The new version of the MCBAís USCG approved Drug program is now in full effect. Persons needing drug program letters to apply for a new license will be able to obtain them again. With all the new rules and regulations, it was a hard job getting the new program approved. President Terry Walsh worked overtime with our new Drug Program author, Capt. Dean Hobbs, of Ludington car ferry fame. Capt. Hobbs has proved invaluable in helping us work our way through all the new twists and turns. He met with the MCBA board twice, spending at least three hours each time, explaining what we have to do and working with us to develop all the protocols for the new program.
Shortly if not already, each of us will obtain several documents related to the new program.
Please read them all carefully, and respond as required. It is very important for us to get up-to-date and complete information for every member.
When itís all said and done the new program boils down to a couple of simple concepts. First, when we are called to be random tested under the new rules, it will be most important to take the test more or less immediately, generally meaning within a few hours. Secondly, all deviations from the first requirement will have to be explained and documented by the person being called to test and by the Association. Individual captains and mates will have to be much more diligent in both situations. The rules are very clear about these two things, and persons who do not meet these conditions will likely face severe consequences from the USCG to keep their license. You can be sure that after all the MCBA has done to get re-certified that the MCBA is going to have to deal quickly and surely with members who have trouble abiding by the new regulations. We canít afford to go through this again, nor will we be allowed to go through this again by the USCG.
Thatís the bad news. The good news is that if everyone understands and abides by the new rules; take their random tests in a timely fashion as required, nothing much else will change.
Hopefully, soon after we get the approval, you will all receive the necessary documents and papers, along with any necessary instructions, to be in compliance under the new rules. I hope you will have received them by the time you read this. At least thatís the plan, as I understand it at this time. I believe you will find more about it in other articles in this newsletter.
Summary: learn the new rules, take any required tests promptly, and keep going about your own business, pretty much like before.
I continue to hear horror stories about captains renewing licenses with medical issues. If you have no unusual medical issues, and your doctor fills out the new required lengthy medical forms very carefully, your license renewal will go through quickly. IF (big IF), you have medical issues, such as heart or lung problems, artificial joints/limbs, stroke, major vision issues, etc., you will likely have a difficult time renewing your license. It may require a long time and a lot of money spent on tests and documentation. You may want to consult a professional USCG license specialist to assist you with your application.
Chuck Kakuska, Sea Kís licensing service (734) 847-1723, email: firstname.lastname@example.org has helped many MCBA members with these kinds of issues over the years.
Finally, watch for and/or follow all the new drug rules and regs, and going back to the top of this article, please write down those dates for the fall conference, and then,