I passed my on the water practical exam. I figured I would do so - but you never know.
Part of the test involved me having to tow a 32 foot twin engine heavy boat with my 20 foot single engine boat. It was clear to the examiners that the two boats were not matched - my boat was much smaller. But I got it done anyway. I was able to get close enough to heave the towing line over, where it was attached to a bow cleat. This was the easy part - the long tow.
To transition to a side tow I had to bring the towed boat into the wind. Once it was bow into the wind I turned it slightly to port. The wind caught it and pushed it sideways, exposing the starboard side. From then it was a simple matter to just inch my boat up along , my port side. The 4 tow lines were attached, plus one more line that acted as a bow line because so much of the other boat was ahead of me.
The apparent ease and flawless execution of the transition seemed to impress everyone.
The key to the whole thing was thinking ahead, and taking my time. I just had to put each boat where I wanted them to be, working with the forces that were around. You have to remain calm and in control of the situation. You have to clearly communicate with your crew, so they know exactly what you plan to do, when you plan to do it, and how you intend for it to be done. Other than that it is just a matter of confidence. If you get nervous then you are more likely to make a mistake.
So at any rate, that is out of the way. I passed. I put a fair amount of time and effort into preparing for it. There was the closed book navigation rules test, countless hours of classroom instruction, who knows how much time out on the water, and so on. In the end it was worth it.
So what do I get out of all this?
A long sleeve t-shirt that reflects my new certification, and this pin.
I also received training on boat handling - which was my goal from the start. All the time spent was worth it, as now I can take the boat out with friends on board and I can approach a dock without hitting it - among other things.