To qualify for a Captain's License the Coast Guard requires that you have a minimum number of days experience on the water. The total number of days required is dependent on the license that you wish to earn.
Most license applicants self-certify their days of sea time spent aboard their own boat. Proof of ownership for the boat that you are claiming days of sea time on must accompany your application. If your time was spent on friends or family members boats then you must provide a Sea Service form signed by the owner of the boat you intend to claim time on.
To document your experience on the water use the Small Vessel Sea Service Form CG-7195 and record to the best of your recollection the number of days that you were on the water in any given month and year.
The Coast Guard is not looking for logbooks or official records to certify this time. If you have these documents and records Great! You can use them to reconstruct the time you spent on the water if you do not No worries
One day of Sea time is supposed to be eight hours on the water, however, in many cases the National Maritime Center (NMC) will accept a day as being just four hours when applying for a OUPV/six-pack or 25/50/100 Ton Master License.
A single calendar day can only be counted once. So, if you spent eight hours on your boat and on the same calendar day went out for another eight hours on your friends boat this would count as just one day. A day can never be counted twice whether the time was spent on your boat or any combination of other boats.
Sea service you have acquired while serving in the military may count towards your Captain's License. Generally, military sea time will be creditable at a rate of 60% credit for each qualifying day of military service served onboard a military vessel. To be considered qualifying time, the time must have been served in a capacity relevant to the type of license you are applying for.
You may provide satisfactory evidence of U.S. military service in the form of an official Transcript of Military Sea Service, certified History of Assignments, or certified Statement of Creditable Sea Service (a DD-214 on its own is not generally sufficient evidence of sea service).