How to become a Coxswain

Coxswains manage the operation of small commercial marine vessels, such as fishing boats, ferries, water taxis, jet boats, yachts, catamarans and tourist craft.

Personal requirements of a Coxswain

  • willing to spend time at sea
  • able to lead and manage a crew
  • commitment to safety
  • pass an eye test and have normal colour vision
  • good health and able to pass a medical examination.

Duties & Tasks of a Coxswain

Coxswains may perform the following tasks:

  • manoeuvre and navigate small vessels
  • consult weather authorities before planning a voyage
  • give instructions to the crew
  • communicate with passengers
  • update vessel logbooks
  • assist with mooring and unmooring vessels
  • monitor condition and seaworthiness of vessels
  • transmit and receive information by marine radio or telephone
  • respond to emergency situations
  • use navigational information and techniques to conduct a safe passage
  • service propulsion systems, low-voltage electrical systems and auxiliary systems
  • operate pumping systems, and outboard and inboard diesel engines.

Working conditions for a Coxswain

Coxswains may operate vessels up to 12 metres in length in sheltered waters. Those who wish to operate larger vessels further from the coast will need to gain additional qualifications.


Fishing Charter Operator

A fishing charter operator manages a fishing charter business, which may include work as a coxswain.

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