First and foremost, any Waiver Holder or Charter Captain must have the proper certificate of competency and training (ECDIS, MEDs, SEN, GMDSS) appropriate to the vessel's tonnage, and a valid Transport Canada Marine Medical. Additionally, care should be taken to ensure that the requested PPA Waiver Holder has approval for working in any or all of the 5 specified "Compulsory Pilotage Areas" (https://ppa.gc.ca/compulsory-pilotage-areas). Not having the right certification for the vessel could cause issues with the vessel's insurer. Confirm that the candidate has a valid and correct certificate of competency, valid TC Marine Medical, and is approved by the PPA to work in the intended areas for the voyage before agreeing to a hiring contract.
Beyond certification, the Waiver Holder or Charter Captain should be able to demonstrate his level of local knowledge either through some form of resume or by providing copies of his or hers sea going testimonials (as approved by Transport Canada). Local knowledge includes a thorough understanding of the complexities of the BC coast, including, but not limited to, specific tidal and current conditions for the proposed routing, local weather phenomenons, passage planning including all Calling-In Points (CIPs) and ETAs, MCTS/VTS traffic separation and routing schemes, and clearances in and out of Canada.
Professional Coastal Experience
Professional coastal experience can best be demonstrated by a combination of experience on large vessels and local knowledge of the areas the vessel will be cruising in. There is a significant difference between experience on smaller coastal vessels (such as tugs and fishing boats) and larger vessels that require more handling expertise, greater technical (systems) knowledge, and limitations as to anchorages and berths. It is generally accepted that a Waiver Holder or Charter Captain with significant professional coastal experience has the skills and knowledge to safely and comfortably navigate any large vessel anywhere along the BC coast from Washington State to Alaska, and from the Gulf Islands through the Inside Passage to Haida Gwaii.
Strength of Character
Navigators by nature must have the safety of those onboard as their paramount responsibility. Often this means taking a position on safety and standing by it. Ideally, an experienced Waiver Holder or Charter Captain has the skill set and background to fully appreciate the level of risk associated with navigating a very complex coastline and understanding the balance necessary for creating a safe and reasonable passage plan. The ability to make sound, practical decisions as part of a comprehensive passage plan is the mark of a professional navigator.
In addition to being a navigator, Waiver Holders and Charter Captains need to have a solid grasp of customer service relationships. Often times a Waiver Holder or Charter Captain will need to act as a concierge, hiking, diving, fishing and mountain bike guide, naturalist, and local historian. It also means having a substantial contact list to assist the vessel in procuring or arranging goods and services up and down the coast on short notice.