I finally made it. I am an officially licensed operator of a pleasure craft. Getting a motor boat license has been in the making for almost a decade. A true bucket list item to be checked off. But let’s back up a bit and let me tell you about how it came to be on the bucket list in the first place and how I finally managed to cross it off.
I am not sure when I first thought it would be nice to have a motor boat license. I do not own a boat. And I don’t really know people who do. I love being on boats though. Every once in a while I was daydreaming of renting a house boat or any type of boat for vacation. Same as I was thinking about boarding a cruise ship. Never done though. Even the smaller boats you can rent on an hourly basis here in Berlin to go on the lakes (Wannsee, Tegeler See and many more) or the rivers I have never rented. I always felt I would like to know more before actually steering a boat.
I looked into signing up for a course every once in a while. But I never pulled the trigger. It was on my first bucket list. And half way through I figured I really don’t need such a license. For what if I can rent the smaller boats without one? And then I started the second bucket list. And I added it in again because deep down I really wanted to have that boating license.
For my 40th birthday my dad gave me red rose in a pot and a long letter with some money. He said he really doesn’t know what I would have liked most so he got me money. Without thinking I said “Oh maybe then I just use that money to finally getting my boating license.” When I said that he replied with “I always wanted to do that too.” It was more or less settled for me than that we should do it together.
Rather spontaneously on September 9th this year he told me he had found a school that would do a weekend crash course early October and he happened to have time that weekend. I happened to have time too as my big project ended and I felt like taking some time off. I signed us up by mid September, found a little AirBnB and my dad booked it.
When I started looking into the course work I felt a bit overwhelmed though. This was going to be a bigger thing than I had anticipated and really was comparable to taking your drivers ed test. I bought an app and started learning about 10 days prior to the course. I also learned that in some cases it was possible to start practical training Wednesday and/or Thursday prior to the course and that it was included. I signed up and hoped that I score a spot as I felt very anxious and didn’t want to fail. In the end it all got canceled.
The weekend to acquire a certification for operation a pleasure craft
The course was taken place at Germany’s largest inland lake called Müritz just 160 km north of Berlin. I decided to go there by train on Thursday around noon and enjoy half a day sightseeing the town, getting settled and just relax. Dad had a late meeting in Berlin and would get up early on Friday drive to Waren (the town) and be there by 10 am when the course started.
My train arrived 2.30 pm at the train station and from there it was a 20 minute to the apartment. It took me much longer as I started snapping away photos of this cute town. I checked in, explored the apartment that was in a cute little timbered house before I set off to explore the old town.
I stopped at the church and climbed up the tower that gave a great view of the lake, harbor and the old town.
I climbed down the stairs, went to get some groceries dropped them off at the apartment and went down to the marina, grabbed an ice cream cone on the way and walked out to the pier where there were many fisherman. Afterwards I strolled down the shore, climbed steep little streets.
After that I decided to check out how far the boating school was so I knew which way to walk. I also wanted to check where my dad could park as they said it was all a construction site and my dad can’t walk very well anymore after the car crash in 2022. When I was finally back near the apartment I was hungry and tired. I got myself some Syrian dish and sat under the street lamp at the marina. Then headed home, read in bed and fell asleep.
Friday – Back to school and first practical exercises
I met my dad at the school, we grabbed a coffee and then the lessons started. From 10am to 1 pm we learned about inland waterways, how they are signed and all things in the rule books.
We had lunch in a little shop selling Fischbrötchen. The weather was really cold and windy and it wasn’t too pleasant sitting outside. So we moved to a café afterwards and drank a coffee, studying the course material before it was our time slot to hop on the boat and have our lesson.
We were five students on the boat. It was cold and wet and windy. I still had a blast. Unfortunately there are no pictures of me. I took one while my dad was steering. The waves were rather high. We never left the port area as it would have been more rough outside. We first learned to steer the boat and turn it around in small spaces. Once we got the hang of it we moved quickly to the three maneuvers that were part of the exam. Docking, departing and person over board maneuver. I rather quickly got the hang of docking and departing but I killed every person I was supposed to save. It was a bit frustrating.
After about 90 minutes we went back. That was all the practice we got in the crash course we booked. I didn’t feel at all like I knew what I was doing. And while starting the whole adventure I was most scared of failing the written exam I was now scared of failing the practical one. And I had no way of practicing that after hours. The only thing I could practice were the seven knots where we had to show six.
After a quick stop at the apartment Dad and I went for a nice fish restaurant where we had reserved a place during lunch. It was really good food and we talked a bit about all kind of different things. After coming back we studied a bit more, made some more knots and then I went to bed to read a bit.
Saturday – School and practicing
When we thought the weather was bad yesterday we were in for a surprise. On our way to school it was already raining. There was a fresh breeze and drizzle. School started at 9 am today until 12 pm. Today we mainly just talked about right of way rules between all different kinds of crafts, boats, people. I had a hard time getting it for some reason. special when a sail boat is involved. Not sure I have it down even now.
At lunchtime it was pouring and we went to a Chinese restaurant for soup. The soup unfortunately was not very good but the tea was excellent. And we needed to warm up because the weather was getting worth. Today my dad and I had a training slot alone – apparently we needed the extra help. I was glad. Things went a bit better today but far from feeling comfortable for tomorrow’s exam. The weather was cold and we constantly shoveled water from the boat. So when we finally could go home we did gladly, had some hot tea and crawled into bed for a while to warm up. We studied again and made a gazillon knots. By then I had a good feeling about the written exam as I had done every single exam sheet in a practice run and only failed one.
For dinner dad and I went to a Brauhaus and had some traditional German food. We had some nice talk over dinner and went for a stroll around town. I went to bed early. I was tired and also wanted to read a bit.
Sunday – Exam time and relaxing afternoon
The big day. When I woke up in the morning dad was in bed studying. I decided I am done. We had to be at the Marina at 9.30 am. There we had to wait for a while and that made me really anxious. But in the end we hopped in the boat and while dad was steering I had to show my knots – one I messed up but showed a more complicated one. Then we switched and I had to do the maneuvers which went flawlessly. When we were done the guy told us that we had passed the practical exam.
After that we went to the school and at 11 am we took the exam. We had 45 min. I was done faster but checked and checked until I was making myself crazy so I just handed it in. After every one was done it took a bit and then the examiner called in some people for a talk. After that he came out and told all others that they had passed. Dad and I were really proud of ourselves.
We decided to take a slow afternoon driving towards Berlin. First off we went into the nature reserve and just drove around a bit. Stoped at a ranger station that was having an exhibit. Here we did some wooden puzzle that were rather difficult. After that we had a fantastic lunch. Some other guest walked in with loaded baskets of mushroom so dad wanted to go mushroom picking. I wasn’t too excited after my stint with the toilet but I did go. It was so easy to pick them, you basically fell over them. I was very familiar with these mushrooms. Nevertheless I handed them all to dad. As I said done for this year. After that we kept on driving. I was getting a bit grumpy because I wanted to have some coffee and cake but nothing really was open. But my dad remembered an old Manor so we went there and they had amazing cake: gooseberry. I had two coffees and a piece, packed some for the husband as a gift and then we took a tiny stroll onto a bridge to take another selfie. And then we were off to Berlin.
It was a wonderful weekend spent with dad. I am glad it will always be remembered as my dad birthday present to me just like the spa weekend was Mom’s present. And even better that we actually managed to walk away with our license. Now we just need to practice those skills. Next season here we come.
Your turn: Do you own a boating license? Do you own a boat? Do you dream of having either? What is one of your big, big bucket list item? Have spend an entire weekend with your dad after moving out?