*****How you can pass PPCDL Practical Handling Test (Powered Pleasure Craft Driving Licence) first time?

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Yes! I got my PPCDL licence on my first attempt yesterday!

First attempt pass for the theory test (which I got 29 out of 30 marks) & yes, first attempt pass for the infamous PPCDL Practical Handling Test. Of course, this could not have happened without the guidance of instructors over at METS1, Marina Country Club & especially Captain Zul with whom I took my 2 refresher sessions just 2 days before my actual test date.

Time taken: Duration of just 50 days
25-26 Aug 2011 Attended PPCDL Course at Marina Country Club
4 Oct 2011 Passed PPCDL Theory Test (29/30)
15 Oct 2011 Passed PPCDL Practical Handling Test

After I completed the 2-days course over at MCC, I straightaway booked my theory test (http://www.sp.edu.sg/wps/portal/vp-spws/spws.cet.shortcourses.cselisting.csedetails/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/wps/wcm/connect/Lib-SPWS/site-spwebsite/lifelong+learners/short+courses/powered+pleasure+craft+driving+licence+%28ppcdl+english+theory+test%29%28short+courses+-+powered+pleasure+craft+driving+licence+%28ppcdl+english+theory+test%29%29) & practical handling test (http://www.sp.edu.sg/wps/portal/vp-spws/spws.cet.shortcourses.cselisting.csedetails/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/wps/wcm/connect/Lib-SPWS/site-spwebsite/lifelong+learners/short+courses/powered+pleasure+craft+driving+licence+%28ppcdl+handling+assessment%29%28short+courses+-+powered+pleasure+craft+driving+licence+%28ppcdl+handling+assessment%29%29) altogether. Of course, I was very confident that I would pass my theory test on first try. (Will share how I did it soon)

At the same time, I started to google about PPCDL on the internet in order to find “clues” & “tips” on how to pass my PPCDL test, especially the practical. But on the contrary & to my horror, all I found was “I failed 6-7 times”, “really hard to pass”, “3 tries already”, “re-take Again”, “quota”, “so difficult to pass one ah!”etc, especially relating to the practical test! This really didn’t boost one’s morale…

Power of Declaration (Making up your mind)

Undeterred, I told myself that I MUST pass on my first attempt. This was also because I told my wife that I would give her a present on her birthday (which falls exactly on my test-date!), that is, my boating licence ☺ It was kind of like a declaration that I definitely can do it. If not, a bit embarrassing ya! I also told a few of my family and friends of my test date & I would sure get the licence. Of course, I also requested them to help pray for me. It worked, as always.

I firmly believe that most of the people didn’t pass on their first attempt because they NEVER really made up their mind! Some would even have the “try-try” mentality, “if not, next time!” so they say… There is truly a difference between wanting and wanting it BADLY. Of course, some may say that’s too stressful… Well, that’s why having the right preparation is critical.

Finding success story(stories)

After deciding that I want to make it on my first test, I literally combed the internet for people who have done it before. And yes, there it was, one young 20+ years old lady, passed her practical on her first attempt, & together with her friend some more! “If she can do it, so can I.” And one thing I learnt from her was to make sure we took refresher sessions before the practical. As it always is, success leaves clues…

Quality Preparation:

(Stated below are the various steps I undertake for my preparation. I believe quality is more important than quantity. Because most of us are busy with our career and family. We certainly cannot afford to take a month off from every other thing just to pass the PPCDL!)

1. Know the Test Environment (1-2 weeks before your test date; I went on 1st Oct 2011)

I cannot imagine anyone could just show up for the PPCDL Practical Test and that is actually also their first time at Poly Marina! It’s like going to war without even knowing where the battlefield is! Truly amazing!

What you can do first is simply find the location on the Google Map.

Then go to test site. Probably during one of the weekends when you are near the area. The test site is at Poly Marina, not RSYC (Republic of Singapore Yacht Club), though these two venues are just next to one another.

I had the realization that the test boat is slightly different from the boat used during the PPCDL course. Even engines are slightly different!

• *Go survey the Poly Marina when there is actually a test going-on. (PPCDL Practical Handling Assessment is conducted on Saturdays (except public holidays) at 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm at Poly Marina, 50 West Coast Ferry Road) Might be a test also at 11am/12pm timing.
• **On hindsight, view the people taking the test from the stone slipway of RSYC, ie the place RSYC members launch their boats into the water
• If test is at 130pm, usually one tester will mark attendance and brief the people for about half hour. Actual going unto the boat will be about 2pm.

2. Take the Refresher Session One (Preferably within a week of your test date. Some people book 2 hours straight. I prefer to split it into two 1-hour sessions. My first refresher session was on 13th Oct 2011.)

Call up your course instructor to ask him how to book your refresher session. Else you can call Yi Fan @ 65644866 to arrange.

In my experience, you should take the refresher session at RSYC. Why? A refresher session is equivalent to your “mock” test. It is like taking your 10-year series theory questions, closed book. For me, refresher session one is like taking your 10-year series “mock” test, open book. I deemed session #2 as more like closed book. This is why I book two 1-hour sessions instead of one 2-hour session. Another reason is also I can be exposed to 2 different sets of weather conditions, wind directions, current situations and boat movements.

Taking my refresher session at RSYC helps me in the following 12 ways:
(a) I learnt that many boats going in and out of the West Coast Ferry Terminal just to the left of RSYC

(b) This created swells, which rock the jetties (which you might be asked by tester to berth) up & down
(c) Let me see where I could be asked by tester to berth, and actually doing it there!
(d) Get close to the test boat to view it more closely
(e) Realise that there are 3 moor lines to each test boat (bow, beam, stern)

(f) Get familiar with the wind direction, especially from the various flags on the RSYC jetty

(g) Let me do my MOB drill in the actual location of test
(h) See the danger zone (stone slipway of RSYC marked by 2 yellow & blue poles)

(i) Understand that there are 2 different lengths for inner berths

(j) Know that, after unberthing and going astern, which part to start making 3-point turn and head out to sea
(k) Help me visualize the whole process
(l) Know that there are 3 chimneys out there (which the tester might ask you to head in the direction of the chimneys) & lateral/directional buoys (which the tester might ask you whether you should pass the buoy on the port side or starboard side. I was asked that question while piloting the boat during the practical test!)

* To fully utilize the $100/hour refresher sessions, I recommend writing down any questions that you have and ask the instructor. Remember, the refresher session is not the course! You already attended the course!

3. Take Refresher Session Two (like the test, closed book; I took mine on 14th Oct 2011, a day before the actual test)
During this session, treat it as though you are actually taking the test. Ask the instructor to “test” you on the following 5 areas:
a. Overall Hull & 12-Equipment Check
b. Checks before starting engine & Actual Unberthing
c. Man-over-board Drill
d. Berthing
e. Oral Test

The Actual Test

1. Reach 15minutes early (in case of traffic jams etc)
Tester marked attendance. Shared about the 5 different areas to be tested on, namely:
a. Overall Hull & Equipment Check
b. Unberthing
c. Man-over-board Drill
d. Berthing
e. Oral Test

2. Relax
Easier said than done. I still felt the butterflies in my stomach! But then I told myself that I have done the best preparation I could, so just relax, take DEEP breaths and do my best.

3. How many on each boat?
Depending on the total number of people taking the test, you might have one or two more people taking the test accompanying you on the same boat. Usually it’s just two.

4. First or Second?
Some testers may ask ALL onboard to run through Check test together before getting one to unberth. Other tester will go through all areas for one person before changing to the next one.

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