Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Azimuths and Amplitudes ...

Now in the last week of the upgrade prep course, and just six days out from testing at the Regional Exam Center, I can't quite believe how much material we've covered.

Holy crap, it's a lot of stuff. And a lot of math, which -- if you had asked me beforehand -- I would have told you I can't possibly do.

Except I can, apparently. Who knew?

About five days ago, faced with a small mountain of material I had yet to master, some of which gets me about halfway to celestial, I decided, regretfully, to change my route from oceans to near coastal.

That knocks two modules off my exam and makes a couple of others a bit easier.

Shortly after making the decision, I printed, signed, scanned and emailed a letter to the National Maritime Center asking for an amendment to my approval to test. That was at about 1030. At around 1400, I had the amended letter in my inbox.

Apparently you only have to call your congressman once to get continued stellar customer service.

I'll have covered enough by the end of this course that I believe I can probably swing celestial with just a little long-distance tutoring. Or maybe a lot of long-distance tutoring. We'll see.

The only reason I think it's possible, much less probable, is because our instructor is crazy good at this stuff.

He's not only good at algebra and trig, but really good at translating abstract ideas into actionable tools to solve problems.

And he's a fun guy, as are the other two mariners taking the course. Good thing, since we're all staying in the same house we're studying in, and the studying is averaging about 14 hours a day.

As you might expect, there have been a couple of study breaks.

One of the coolest things about this experience, for me, is the opportunity to get to know Galveston a little better.

I had a South Texan's prejudices about the city -- I still think the beaches are pretty crappy -- and have been happily surprised to find it endlessly fascinating. It's a tiny, old, very urban city.

I guess its history would point to that, but seeing it first-hand (other than driving in our out for work, or during a quick weekend visit) is something else.

Anyhow, that's the report from the waterfront. I'm underway making way this week.