A few questions about getting a start offshore

Hey everyone, I’m hoping to get a start offshore (bad timing, I know) and just have a few questions, and could use a little feedback on if you think the route I plan to take is best, or if there is a better way of doing things. To give you a brief background on myself: I’m a younger guy, and have worked on a dinner cruise boat for the last 8 years, starting in an entry level food and beverage position, and then climbing my way up from deckhand through captain. I have my 100 ton NC, and was promoted to captain 2 years ago. I eventually realized a few things: 1) It’s really a small market, not a lot of jobs in it. 2) The money I was making would pretty much be about the most I would make if I stayed in that type of work. 3) There is really no chance of ever upgrading your license, and it doesn’t really qualify you for to many other jobs.

With that said, I need to make a change. My first choice is going offshore. Tugs and inland waterways is another option, but I’ve been focusing on offshore thus far. Of course, being captain on a dinner cruise that goes in the same loops every night doesn’t compare to going offshore, and I get that. My intentions are to get in somewhere at an entry level as an OS, and work my way up, taking STCW courses and other endorsement classes along the way. On to the questions:

  1. What do you think is a better route to go? Start with a bigger company and possibly end up on larger vessels with more positions to go into and seatime at a greater tonnage…or work for a mom and pop crew boat company, with the potential to slip into a captains position if something opens up after you gain experience offshore? This question is a matter of opinion I suppose, but would love to hear them.

  2. If you get called to go out to a boat, or decide to take a trip and start knocking on doors, what would you pack? I assume plenty of work clothes, steel toed boots, a book or two for downtime, toiletries, etc. But what else? Is any applicable safety gear (ear plugs, hard hats, etc) generally provided if needed?

  3. Is there a standard for travel pay? I’ve been looking around online, and it seems a lot of places pay travel, a few specifically say they aren’t live on positions and need to be nearby, and others say nothing. Just having a little difficulty gauging what is most common.

  4. Do headhunter agencies give you that much greater of a chance at a job? I filled out an application for seaport marine, but didn’t like the way the contract sounded at all. I looked up information about them through the forums here, and right away ripped up the application tossed it. But are any of them worth it?

I thought I had a lot more questions on my mind, but I suppose that’s it for now. I appreciate any answers, opinions, feedback etc!

Good questions. Bad answers!

Yes, this is a tough time to find a new job. But, not impossible! To clarify, there are 6 main categories of work. In order from best paid to least IMHO!: a. Deep sea (ships, almost all Union) b. Tugboats, Coastwise US (Union and Non union) c oil field supply in the Gulf of Mexico (almost all non union… matter of fact, I can’t think on one Union company in the bunch) d. Tugboats inland (almost all non union) e. Cruise/ dinner industry (you’ve already done that!) f. Small Support vessels around the country, in each harbor, doing oil spill, oil cleanup, oil pollution prevention, safety, security, launch service, food and lube delivery, supplies.

You seem to be asking about the GOM oil field support industry If so, I will try to give you my insite on how it works.

  1. Either way is fine. You have to realize that if you are being ‘pigeon holed’ and held back you will have to move on. Your work ethic and ability will speak for themselves. If you are recognized as an asset then in all likelihood you will get a shot at running mate. (Then maybe Capt if you work out.) My best advice: If you feel you are being held up it is for one of two reasons. Either you aren’t seen as capable, and won’t be promoted, or you have pissed off the skipper and he won’t recommend you for promotion.Either way don’t waste time hanging around if you get on someones bad side. Fix the perception, and move on. (or realize if you can fix the reason) You already have a 100 ton license. On most small crew boats that’s all you need!
  2. Bring enough clothes for a week. if the boat don’t have a washer and dryer you will probably be leaving anyway! ( I would!)Hard hats are generally provided, but I HATE to wear someone elses sweat soaked hard hat on my noggin’ Ask before you go! Ear protection is a must. Bring some ear muffs. spend a 100 bucks and get a GOOD pair/ Your ears will thank you for that.
  3. Travel pay is hard to pin down. most southern companies that work uneven schedules pay trans. By uneven schedules i mean, 2 weeks on, 1 off. or 1 month on 2 weeks off. or 2 months on, one month off. get the picture? Some of the even time companies pay travel but only in a limited amount, or within a geographic area.Typically Union companies pay travel , but again they vary.
    4 The headhunters are filling jobs at companies who ‘burn thru’ employees and don’t have a stream of replacements (who want’s to work there anyways?)

Tweak, Cappy208 gave you good advise. Two more things though. Don’t turn any jobs down in this market. You may not get another call. Also check into the Great Lakes. Most companies are union and pay travel . That said, they pay travel for deckhands (O/S’s) but they usually only hire O/S’s who live somewhere near the Great Lakes. They won’t fly an O/S from Florida for instance. The ships are all unlimited tonnage and all have O/S positions. Good luck. PM me and I’ll be more specific.

[QUOTE=Tweak;45613]Hey everyone, I’m hoping to get a start offshore (bad timing, I know) [snip]…[/QUOTE]

Bad timing is all you need to know right now if you are talking about the oilfied. If you wait until the Gulf starts moving again, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting on a crew or utility boat as a mate. Your chances right now would be slim and none.

i sound like a broken record when i reply to these kind of questions but…work the phones and email like its your job and soon enough you will find one. call everybody and follow up with an email or so it the other way around. if you want you can drop me an emailo, for that mater anyone can, and ill send you the huge list of companies (all with phone numbers some wit emails) that i have (20+ pages), just start at the top and work your way down.

I like this guy. Worked his way up on his side of the industry, and doesn’t feel entitled. Keep your good attitude bro and you can do whatever you want. Like chgonyer said, work the email and phone. I would throw in to add whatever endorsements, etc. that you have time, and can afford to do. Making the drive to apply in person isn’t a bad idea as long as you can swing it as a trip that you expect to come home from, with a small chance at getting lucky. If you are crunched right now, save the $$$. Good luck man!

I would recommend you get your AB and STCW. With your dinner boat time,you can qualify for an AB-Special and if you want to go offshore,most companies want you to have STCW. With endorsements,you become more employable. There is a lot of competition for jobs. I f you have an AB,there is much better chance of getting hired over someone with an OS. The AB shows you have skill and experience working on boats and will give the HR person a reason to take a closer look at your resume over someone with only an OS. Good luck,hope you find something.

Hey everyone, thanks for the responses. I pretty much took the hint that jobs in the GoM were gonna be hard to find for a while, after one of the bigger companies emailed me back “Obama has the gulf shut down. We do NOT expect to hire any time soon”. I just keep applying to whatever I see out there, which lately is more inland work, but I’ll take whatever pops up in this job market, until something comes along my way that is more in line with what I’m looking for.

I plan on adding all the endorsements I can as I go along, but not something I’m really in the position to be doing right now, same with making the trip out there if the chances are still pretty slim currently. I’ll be working the email and phone for sure, seems like the most economical option right now. Chgonyer, I’ll email you here in a few minutes about that list, I’d appreciate it. Had a small spreadsheet from a friend where I went down the list contacting them, more places to look into would be great! Thnaks again for the advice and feedback everyone!

You didn’t mention whether you have an inland or NC license as that dinner boat rarely goes out of the bay. I presume NC. That will make a difference. If you go the AB or OS route then it won’t.

Yeah it’s a NC, I think it was mentioned in original post. I don’t anticipate it making a difference right away, because I assume it will be much easier getting a start as an OS, than trying to get a captains gig right off the bat with no offshore experience.