Man! Did this post bring back a flood of memories!
Got my USCG pilot lic. when I was 18 (didn't hurt to have a neighbor who was tug boat Captain and three of my letters of rec. were from local Pilots with any tonnage/any waters "tickets."
Most fun part was when I finished basic training and it came out towards the end of CG basic training that I had a valid (13th District) set of "Captains papers." Became the 'fair haired' boy from Canada asap. But God the questions they would ask me to see if I knew my stuff. Fav. one from a Chief BM was to the tune of 'how would you fight a poison gas fire aboard ship?'
Actually, easy answer, but it was a function of where the fire was located: above or below decks.