So last week I had a physical exam, and it was not all it could be. Stuff got cradled, stuff got fingered. More than enough said.
This week I had the 5 year radar renewal course, and it was like being bent over the doctor's table all over again.
At least today no one was wearing a clown suit.
Just checking, seeing if you were paying attention.
No, really, I had to do a radar renewal class- a 1 day refresher and evaluation that most licensed mariners have to go through.
I'll tell you, I was mildly concerned- I did my original radar and ARPA at MITAGS, in Maryland, and they were awesome. I also did my first two renewals there, at 5 and 10 years after the original Hideously expensive, as far as such things go, but it was free for me back when I was in MMP, the maritime union that runs the facility.
Last time, now that I'm paying for it myself, I did the course at Northeast Maritime, and found it to be overkill- rather than working on radar plots, I was trying to take radar bearings on land and sea and navigating a ship on a simulator through the strait of Gibraltar.
Having been used to Mitags, where the focus is on rapid and highly accurate plotting (you get about a degree and a half between answers, so plots need to be accurate and mostly done on paper. Northeast Maritime had me doing the same, along with simulator exercises that felt like punishment and day 2 of the Electronic Navigation module in the STCW classes with a radar plot chaser. Expensive, too, but it used to be commuting distance to my house outside Boston.
This morning I did the radar renewal class at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale, driving distance from my house in S. Florida.
It was very different from the other two places- challenging, certainly, but in a different way. Where MITAGS focuses on mathematical precision and execution, and NE Maritime focuses on sensory overload, MPT's class focused on rapid assessment, planning and second-order effects, which was something I hadn't had to do in a dog's age- figuring out bearings, T/CPA's, relative speed changes after a planned turn- all stuff I learned almost 20 years ago, and haven't used since ARPA was a thing, but even so, it was cool stuff, and challenging without being overwhelming- where I made mistakes, it was always easy to see what caused it-
The price was right, the instructor was cool. I liked MPT, and I'm sure I'll return there.