This is not the first time that someone has blogged about this topic. In fact, a Google search reveals a number of bloggers who have also shared their first-hand experience of obtaining a powered pleasure craft driving license (PPCDL) and what I am about to write is my own experience of obtaining a PPCDL.
There are 3 requirements that one must fulfill in order to get a PPCDL.
1. Attend A PPCDL Course
There are a number of centres that conduct the PPCDL course and most courses will require you to set aside 2.5 days. Typically, 1.5 day is set aside for theory lessons and the remaining 1 day is for the practical lesson. Just so you know, I took my PPCDL Course at Marina Country Club in Punggol with Maritime Education and Training Services Private Limited. The price for a PPCDL Course will vary and it will cost between $300 to $400 depending on the centre that you are taking the course from. Occasionally, I do chance upon some special deals on Groupon for the PPCDL Course so do keep a lookout for it!
The PPCDL Course will cover Nautical Terms, Equipment & Usage, Emergencies, Mechanical & Electrical Equipment, Pleasure Craft & Singapore Port Regulations, Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea, Coastal Navigation, General Hints, Relevant Port Marine Circulars & Notices and Practical Boat Handling.
2. Pass the PPCDL Theory Test
You can only book for the PPCDL Theory Test upon completion of the PPCDL Course and if you want to pass the theory test on the first attempt, you have to prepare for it way in advance. To prepare for the PPCDL Theory Test, your PPCDL Course Instructor should have given you some theory test papers and if they haven’t, there are some online sites like Singapore Tests or PPCDL Guide that will be able to give you some sample test questions for you to attempt.
If you will like to have additional theory questions to practise on, you can refer to PPCDL Practice Paper and PPCDL Practise Paper With Answers (courtesy of Captain Hilbert from METS) that I have uploaded to help you in your preparation for the PPCDL Theory Test.
The PPCDL Theory Test costs $21.40 (inclusive of GST) per sitting.
3. Pass the PPCDL Practical Test
Upon passing your PPCDL Theory Test, you can go on to book for the PPCDL Practical Test. While the option to take up a PPCDL Practical Refresher Lesson is entirely up to you, I will suggest that you go for at least two 2-hour session of the PPCDL Practical Refresher Lesson because the 1 Day Practical Lesson conducted during the PPCDL Course is definitely insufficient.
A friend of mine recommended Uncle Dave if you want to go for the PPCDL Practical Refresher Lesson and his rate of $90 per hour is one of the cheapest around.
The key areas that you will need to focus on for the PPCDL Practical Test are the pre-launch checks, the un-berthing of a boat, man overboard recovery, berthing of a boat, and the oral interview after the practical handling test.
For the pre-launch checks, you will need to check the exterior of the boat for any cracks and damages and if you can see the engine propeller, make sure you check that there are no entanglement or debris. You will also have to let the tester know that the boat is secured at the bow, beam, and stern.
Once the exterior has been checked, you will need to get into the boat to do the interior checks. Proceed to the front compartment and check that the compartment is free from cracks, damages, and water. The front compartment will contain the anchor, anchor chain, and anchor rope.
After which, ensure that the following mandatory items are in place:
1. Anchor, Anchor Chain, Anchor Rope
2. 2 Life Buoys
3. 3 Hand Flares (check for expiry date)
4. Fire Extinguisher (check for expiry date and pressure)
5. Boat License (check for validity date, registration number, number of passengers the boat can carry)
6. Life Jackets
7. Air Horn
10. AIS Beacon
11. Navigational Lights (at the top of the boat towards the stern)
Proceed to the stern to check on the fuel tank compartment and the electrical box compartment. For the fuel tank compartment, ensure that it is free from cracks, damage and water. Turn open the fuel tank cap to check that there is sufficient fuel in the fuel tank and then close it back. For the electrical box compartment, ensure that it is free from cracks, damage and water and that the electrical components are all connected to the electrical box.
Once that is done, proceed to the driver’s seat and carried out the last few remaining checks as follows:
1. Check that the kill switch is attached.
2. Ensure that the gear is in NEUTRAL position.
3. Check that the steering wheel can steer to port side and starboard side by turning it.
4. Check that the hydraulic system is working.
5. Appoint a lookout.
After appointing a lookout, inform your tester that all the checks have been done and you are ready to move off. Once the tester gives you the clearance to move off, start the engine and check that the engine cooling system is working. When you see water coming out from the engine cooling system, it means that the engine cooling system is working fine.
The tester will then ask the lookout to remove the lines and when all is good, the tester will then ask you to move off. Engage your gear to reverse and ask your lookout to look for the port side to see if there are any obstacles or approaching vessel.
Once you have reversed and cleared the space, you will then proceed to the open water to do your man overboard retrieval and then lastly, the berthing of the boat. As far as possible, try to clear these two without incurring any points so that you can have a safety net for the oral interview.
Also, whenever you do anything or whenever you carry out the checks, make sure it is loud and clear! Don’t just mumble to yourself and portray confidence when you do the checks.
It took me 3 attempts to clear my PPCDL Practical Test and on my 1st attempt, I failed because I didn’t manage to berth my boat. On my 2nd attempt, everything went well except for the oral interview. For my 3rd attempt, I guess I was just pretty lucky I cleared everything without incurring much demerit points.
For the oral interview, you really have to study for it so make sure you spend some time to revise when waiting for your turn. Some of the interview questions that I gotten are as follows:
1. How do you determine a risk of collision?
2. What is an isolated mark and what light does it show at night?
3. What is the night navigational light for a vessel that is aground?
4. What is the night navigational light for a vessel that is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre?
5. What is the night navigational light for a vessel that is constrained by her draft?
6. What is the night navigational light for a vessel that is anchored?
7. What is the night navigational light for a vessel that is not under command but making way?
8. What is the sound signal that a vessel makes when she wants to stop?
9. What is the sound signal that a vessel makes when she wants to move off?
10. How do you identify a vessel that is constrained by her draft in the day?
11. How do you identify a vessel that is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre in the day?
12. What is a cardinal mark and what light does it show at night?
13. What is a special mark and what light does it show at night?
14. What is a safe water mark and what light does it show at night?
15. What is the proper scope for anchoring?
In case you’re wondering, the PPCDL Practical Test costs $107 per attempt. To get a PPCDL, it will take approximately 3-4 months on average and if you manage to clear everything on the first attempt, it will take you about 1-2 months instead.
With a PPCDL, may this become a reality! I’m definitely looking forward to attending the Singapore Yacht Show that’s taking place this April!
I hope that this unofficial guide to obtaining a PPCDL will help you as you prepare for your own PPCDL journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to list them down in the comments section below or if you prefer, you can drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.