Advice for a not-so-new shellback

So I’ve been at sea for about four years, sloops to schooners to crewboats to cruise ships to salvage ops to yachts to expeditions. Hawsepiper. I love working on deck, but I love navigation more, and I know that I’m capable of directing deck ops rather than just wrangling lines and dangling tools. Degree in science (neuro, but who’s counting?) and looking to get back to school for a big license and more opportunities. Please advise. Note: long-time lurker on these boards, so don’t f-ing just say, “read a prior thread,” because chances are I have. Having said that, I probably haven’t read everything, especially the super-old stuff, i.e., threads on which the last post is 5+ years old. So, fire away… But if you come athwart my hawse, do it with caution, or I’ll fire into you with all cannons, and rake you from stem to stern (I’m looking at you, c.cap).

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How about being less cryptic. Where do you want to be, and what do you want to do, specifically? Don’t worry about c.captain. He rarely chimes in on threads like this anymore.


With all of those conditions, who would want to help you?
But really, fastest way is to go to a Maritime Academy that offers a Master’s degree. Kind of nobrainer, even for dumb people that don’t have a neuro Science degree.

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Oh geez, please spare us the salt spray.


I hear the duckboat company needs a new skipper…


‘Me eyes is stars, me teeth is spars, me hair is hemp and seaweed. And when I spits, I spits tar…’

I don’t have the heart to finish it out of embarrassment for still remembering it. Ha ha


@Dano should can enthusiastically recite it all his bloomin’ life, and the Reisenberg saying, and impress absolutely no one.

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“Shiver me timbers @Dano ” you WAFI Neuro Weenie, <= Terms of endearment. I really liked the post so I’ll bite. Visualized a barquentine cannoning a nice old codger in Puget Sound. Miss his rants and yarns @c.captain

If you found something you like and it’s stable stick with it while you save cash and take courses towards a Turd Mate. Louisania has Delgado, Falck and a bunch of miscellaneous places. If you keep with the yachts MPT in FL has everything you need to get the unlimited and cater to that crowd as well as the average Mariner. Check the NMC approved course list wherever you are and start knocking some stuff out. What rating or limited ticket you actually hold will determine any more worthwhile advice. 100 Ton, OS, AB U/L Special, Sail, Limited, MODU. The SV Oliver Hazzard Perry In RI is a Slick rig and are always posing jobs if that’s where you set course. Maybe take big License courses at Northeast Maritime in Fairhaven MA on downtime.

If you are wicked into book learnin’ @saltyseaman was on the right track. SUNY has a Master program that can be lumped into a USCG License. That depends on if you want to pay for another degree or be stuck under a bridge in NY like a troll.

I went to Mass Maritime so I’m bias to all the other academy’s but if you already have a degree just get the NMC pieces of paper and as many as you can.

Ive worked / been trained up by many Hawsepipers and it’s still possible if you are motivated enough. All what you put into it buddy.

Check the USCG Qualified Assessor List too. It’s a small industry. You might know someone on it willing to help with employment assistance / assessment on larger tonnage vessels.

Good luck. Hope my poor grammar and run on sentences help a little. I’m hitting the rack. Just got off Balls to Noon.


Irish Pennant

C/M UL, USCG QA & Occasional gCaptain Troll

I was born at sea in the teeth of a gale. Lucky Jack Aubrey himself mentored me. Perhaps ye should post your current credentials. It would be most useful to the tars on here.

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irish is right if you are kinda young, otherwise go to the academy like salty said … and if you’re really young you may have a future in writing !!, keep in touch.

I was really feeling the salinity of my bloodstream when I posted–not to mention three well-earned IPAs. I try to keep things brackish at most, but I do love some salt and yar, not that I take it too seriously, unless you’re a “pro” who calls the cap rails “flats” and the galley a “kitchen.” After all, we’re sailors, not shoe-makers, and the lexicon of our trade has its genesis in the very real problem of being understood clearly and concisely when time is of the essence. But sometimes I just like playing the pirate.

I’ve got a 100-Ton N.C. that I got from Wal-Mart like everyone else. What sets me apart is that I know how little that means, and I don’t go around calling myself “captain.” For one, I’m a deckhand, and a damn good one. I take pride in that. The only time I play up the Masters’ ticket is when I’m talking to a shining example of the fairer sex. Then I’m guilty of some creative embellishment.

Where I’d like to be is on research vessels, diving and/or salvage boats, or working in the North Sea oil patch.

How I’d like to get there is of less importance. I have no problem hawsepiping the whole way, but I do worry that that path will leave some holes in my education, and I want to be among the best. This is my calling, the profession I’ve chosen to devote my life to, and I want to do it as well as I possibly can.

I’ve considered returning to school, specifically Maine Maritime or SUNY. Maine because of its location and the content and caliber of the courses offered. However, I’d only consider the MTO program–not interested in the Master & Commander route as it’s much too much of an investment for a license that I’ve almost already got–but that would mean getting a second bachelors’ degree. Which also means no more loans, which means I can’t afford it.

SUNY sounds like a shithole, and I’m not interested in supply chain management or logistics, so a good deal of the coursework would be onerous to me. However, I would be able to get loans as it’s a grad program, so it’s doable.

If I was independently wealthy, it’d be Maine, hands down.

Anyone have any alternative options?

You don’t need school because you already know everything there is to know. And your attitude is going to get you far in life. You’d end up with a 3rd mate unlimited from SUNY and connections to some very key facets of the industry. But you’re too smart for that, and it’s a shithole apparently.


If you will be hawsepiping your best course would be getting your ab with all the bells and whistles and getting seatime on that…however there are under 100 grt research vessels and dive/salvage vessels out there somewhere probably…
Pretty sure north sea oil patch vessels are most if not all foreign flagged, so good luck with that.
Maybe one of our resident Norwegians can forward your resume if you ask nicely?


Ahhh @Dano! Excellent. Something to work with. Also every License is a License to learn no matter the size. So keep bumping it up!

Showing openings for GVA’s, AB’s and Fisher(persons). <= politically correct. is showing several deckhand and tender operators. River stuff. Not that sexy. USACE.

American Queen, river stuff. Seems a little sexier. Upgrade to a big National License. No STCW required.

Woods hole has nothing in that wheelhouse right now but might be worth a general application. Had a friend who doggiepaddled out to the Alvin sub during recovery’s. Said it was a fun job.

Hope you stumble on a decent gig. Best keep those Nordic dreams on the back burner till you get an U/L License. Even then you might need to learn the language and shack up with a 6 ft blonde Scandi babe. Not the worst thing that could happen.

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Cheers and thanks for the advice, Irish. I do indeed have a stable gig–evidenced by the lag-time between my posts–and I enjoy it. However, I had the pleasure of working with a 2nd Mate recently who knew his shit from stem to stern, and it inspired me to go and continue my education. I love learning from experience, but I think that hawsepiping all the way into the wheelhouse might leave some gaps in my knowledge that I’d only be able to fill by making a concerted study of topics germane to the seafarer. I read plenty of books about this stuff in my down-time, but just haphazardly reading when I can grab some rack time is much different than studying as a full-time occupation.

For the time being I’m going to continue my long voyage up the hawsepipe. I’m getting my AB ticket on my days off, and am going to stack endorsements onto it one by one. Probably ECDIS or RFPNW first, then ARPA, then… Any recommendations?

Speaking of Captain Reisenberg, his introduction to Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service is famous, but I haven’t had the chance to read it. Anyone have a link to it?

Are you in it for the end goal (the license) or in it for the journey? Everybody has different desires, but it’s usually wisest to take the most efficient path. Grad Degree with License at SUNY is probably the most efficient avenue.


ECDIS and ARPA aren’t rating endorsements, don’t waste your money. Your AB will be useless without RFPNW so get that ASAP, maybe even before the AB itself.

You won’t learn as much at an academy as you seem to think. Take the STCW classes at a decent school and take terrestrial and celestial navigation courses and you’ll get the same information.

you seem to have a lot of experience, in fact, multiple experiences on some of the ship types you mention.
In fact, I’d say that 4 years is not in SEA DAYS which makes me wonder why you jump around so much?

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I used the plural in my original post because I like sibilance. Sloop (5) and schooner (2) sailing was before embarking on my professional career. In four years I’ve worked on one crew-boat, one cruise ship, for one salvage company (temporary contract as a rescue-boat coxswain), three yachts, and now small expeditionary cruises. Starting out, I wanted to get a feel for the different sectors of the industry. And I’m a Gen-X-er, I don’t have the blind loyalty to my employer which characterizes the Baby Boomers, nor do I think I’m entitled to all the good things in life like the Millennials. I like to work, and I’m fucking smart and capable, but only for people who respect and reward those qualities. Unfortunately, it’s been my experience that maritime employers’ attitudes haven’t changed much since Richard Henry Dana wrote “Two Years Before The Mast”. In other words, “burn 'em and turn 'em.” I’m still looking for a company with which to build my career, but I’ve been having a good time and more than making ends meet by jumping ship when the bullshit quotient gets too high. I’m not a lazy, job-hopping slob who moves on after getting fired for being a worthless fuck. Nor am I going to stick around to be fucked in the ass. In the words of an AB I knew, “I don’t give respect. I loan it. I want it back.”