<P>My backgroud :Early 50s. Worked in corporate world for 20+ years. Got 100-ton near coastal license sailing as a volunteer on “tall ships” five years ago. Have been on boat ever since. Worked as a deckhand, mate and captain on large sailing vessels. Spent 18 months as OICNW on 140 foot motor yacht with every available electronic naviagtional instrument - Med and Caribbean.<br><br>I’m currently waiting for approval to test for 1600-mate oceans.<br><br>My view of the ocean:<br><br>Megayachts - My experiences were great. But they were a bit unusual in that I had captains who had large passenger ship backgrounds and ran the boats professionally. We moved constantly and went to interesting places. Issue: significant age descrimination . Boats seem to be sold every three years or so. Kind of like being in the corporate world always worrying about layoffs and being the “old guy”. <br><br>Passenger Vessels: Small cruise ships are similar to the large yachts. But with more job security and more professional. Very poor pay. No benefits.<br><br>Commercial Vessels; I have never done it. <br><br>I like blue water. I like to instruct. And I like to learn. I like the challenge of boathandling. Ideally I would like OICNW time on on a 200+ ton vessel. <br><br>People say to me “that was really courageous of you to quit your job and pursue your passion!” I respond: " No it would have been courageous if I had done it 10 years earlier. I quit because I was desperate and saw my life wasting away." <br><br>I have paid for every STCW course out of my own pocket and need to start recouping some cash.<br><br>So, do you think the OSV industry would be a good option? I would like to work for another 20 years and fully develop a new career if I had quality down time.</P>
<P>I don’t want to take the romance out of the ocean for you, but to answer your question. The OSV industry is a good option. Either as a 100 ton or 1600 ton Mate. You should get with a company that deals with Deep water rigs, because that is where the future of the Gulf of Mexico lies. Companies like Edison Chouest Offshore, Otto Candies, HOS. These are my picks in that order. Of Course I work for Chouest so I am partial. Where do you live? Can you come in person to talk to people at your own expense? These companies respond better to people sitting right in front of them. You may even be put off over the phone. It is hard to take people seriously when you get 150 phone calls per day from guys just like yourself or more qualified all saying the same things asking the same questions. Of course this is just my opinion. I do not work in th HR dept. Do not expect to get any consolation prize or pat on the back for taking the STCW classes on your own or paying out of pocket for them. Most companies either pay for these classes or offer them for free. The government either subsidizes the expense or offers grants in many cases to help companies train their employees. The pay is pretty good right now and I only see it improving in the future. Benefits are pretty good and I hope they improve, too. Being in your early 50’s you will more than likely be under someone much younger. Most guys your age have been out here for 20-30 years. That is not to say you would not fit in. I know guys that started out here at your age and done exactly what you want to do and they have done well. This is different from the Mega-Yachts. Lots of rules and procedures in place to minimize accidents and raise situational awareness. The environment is structured and the industry is stable. Do you have any idea how many boats are working out here. If not I think you would be amazed. Take a ride down to Fourchon Louisina and spend a week or so on the Bayou talking to companies. In most cases you can walk in and fill out your application and give your resume and talk with someone. You never know. They may say something like, “HOW SOON CAN YOU START” The normal schedules vary. Chouest is primarily a 28 days on and 14 days off company. There are companies that work 14 on and 14 off. GOL, Gulf offshore logistic is a local company and they work 14 and 14. Some companies subsidize travel. Good Luck PMC.</P>
Many thanks for your response. That’s good to know about getting a face-to face meeting with somewhat short notice.<br><br>One more question: During a “typical” 28-day shift, roughly, is there a general average time underway, dockside maintenance, loading/unloading, etc…<br>
Typically a normal supply boat loads up with product and goes to the rig or rigs offshore for roughly a week or so plus or minus a few days and then return to the dock to backload, get tanks cleaned, take on more product, etc and then do it all again. It all depends on the boat, the project, the oil company. Many factors. I pulled 9 1/2 weeks last hitch and I was at the dock for 9 weeks of it in drydock. I am going to pull 9 weeks this time and I will more than likely be offshore for 8 of the 9 weeks. We have internet, XM, Direct TV, Texas Hold’em tournments and various things to make it a little more bearable. One thing we can’t do is fish and it kills me because of all the fish circling the boat. Yellowfins and Mahi Mahi everywhere. It is like chinese torture.
I’ll bite. Why no fishing?
My guess on the “No fishing” :<br><br>Productivity…(or the lack there of)<br><br>and/or safety…the corp. probably does not want a fresh fish brought onboard to be eaten by crew (not USDA inspected)
Man the fish!!! It is a combination of a few things. The main issue was there were a few incidents where people were injured either while fishing or through the fault of fishing. One guy was fishing on the bow of a boat and slipped on the fish slime of the fish he caught. He injured himself and sued the company. A few years went by and the rule was don’t fish, but what it really meant at the time was don’t get caught and don’t get hurt. Well they had a shark hooked and were trying to land it. The guy had the line in his hand trying to lift the shark out of the water. The line broke and recoiled the weight into his eye. He lost sight in that eye. That was the end of it. The only way I can come to terms with it in my head is this, “Is it worth losing my job over?” The answer is no. So, that is how I deal with it. Big game salt water fishing is dangerous, especially if you have very little experience.<br><br>The other reason is the fishing lines were getting caught in the Z-Drives of some boats and caused some significant damage.
I worked on a Malta-flagged boat with contract of four to nine months. Every time a crew member came back to the boat they had to have a new physical and a HIV test. I’m glad they were not as absolute as the no-fishing rule!
I was working for Hornbeck>>Tide-beck>>Tidewater during the 90’s and I remember well the day the “no fishing” ban came down from the office. No one believed it until they came down to a boat and fired the entire crew because there were fish in the freezer and fishing gear on the boat.<br><br>Of course the guys on the rigs kept fishing, usually from the same side as the tie-up lines were at, and more than once I’ve cut a fish hook out of an AB’s hand that had gotten caught in the line and then grabbed the poor AB when we were tying up.
<P>I would agree that the OSV/workboat sector is a great place to start. The larger companies have a very diverse mix of hawsepipers and acadamy people (but mostly hawsepipers). You can work with a wide range of people with all types of different backgrounds and experience. Captain Lee is correct in that you will probably be working under someone younger than yourself. However, you sound like the type of guy that will make the most of his learning opportunities, regardless of who you are assigned to work with. Please do so. Now is a very exciting time (relative term) to get involved with the “oilpatch”. Many companies are building new vessels and, of course, they will need the mariners to man these newbuilds. Working onboard a vessel with DP, Z-drives or CP wheels, automatic monitoring systems, etc. exposes you to the new technology that these vessels are bringing to the workboat arena. With that in mind, try your best to get on with a company that has a large number of these newbuilds, and your chances of being assigned to one of them greatly increases. I would strongly recommend HOS, Otto Candies, or possibly Choest(In that order). There are also quite a few other companies who either have, or will soon be launching, new equipment.</P>
<P>The point here, of course, is to get yourself trained on all of the new equipment and systems that represent the future of the service vessel community. The more qualifications you can get, the more likely you will be a better candidate than the next guy. If you simply want a list of all types of companies dealing with the marine industry (including workboat companies), subscribe to the Marine Yellow Pages(and look under “Marine Transportation”). You can also view them online at:</P>
<P>Whatever choice you make, be sure that you are satisfied that you will be happy with your work environment as well as the office personnel that will be managing you. I can’t stress that enough. Good luck in the future!</P>