Breaking the 100 Ton glass ceiling

I have a deckhand who is also a captain on dinner boats and sail boats. He is seeking a raise in grade to master 500 tons so he can steer tugs with a TOAR. He already has a 100 ton with sail.

I have seen many people try, my last deckhand was killed in an accident before he could complete this raise in grade.

I am telling him that there is a significant expense in time and money to make this happen, so far I have:

Medical exam $55
basic firefighting $350
advanced firefighting $700
TOAR at a school $1300
First Aid $75
USCG fees $150

This path makes many assumptions ie, he already has a cpr card, he already has the sea time etc. So far he will be close to $3000 without factoring in travel, lodging, and lost wages for school and exam days.

I have already counselled him on the fact that just because you have a license, doesn’t mean anyone is going to hire you, especially as master on a tug and it will certainly not get you any more money in the dinner boat community. I do believe that there is 1 dinner boat in NYC over 100 tons, so in theory it could get you on that,

Am I am missing any training requirements? Does he have to do able seaman and lifeboatman?
Is there a more economical way? I have another co worker on another boat that is going the master 200 tons + TOAR + Apprentice Steersman exam route, and he seems have kind of stalled out. What I do know for sure is that nobody seems to be interested in the just pass the apprentice steersman exam and wait your time route.

Any thoughts?

Never hurts to have the right piece of paper. Maybe he’s sick of working on a fucking dinner boat.


What about radar? I’m assuming he’s Inland, so does not need the STCW. I think he does have to have AB, not sure if it’s Inland.

I had a kid go for AB special/ lifeboat awhile a go. He had to take BT and survival craft to get AB/LB

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Has he ever actually worked on a tug?

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He is decking on my tug now.

Loves dinner boats, just wants more money, like enough to feed his family.

Is anyone at your company a DE? There shouldn’t be any reason to pay for a TOAR class.

Is he going for an inland license?

Why would you discourage him from taking classes if you both work on tugs?

Also. It’s not the 100 ton that’s necessarily the reason the guy gets paid crap. It’s the “dinner” boats. What an absolute joke.

I know guys with 500t and above licenses getting paid shit and guys with 100 and 200 licenses making a reasonable amount, definitely enough to have a comfortable life.

You don’t need AB. That’s another can of worms, leave it alone.

NMC checklist and CFR.

And what is this about? Classes are expensive. No shit. You save up for a while and you go and take them, if the crap company he works for doesn’t pay for the classes…

What kind of engineering opportunities are available on dinner boats? Does the crew get free dinner?

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He would be better off working towards an engine room license. Unless he is a moron, then the deck would be the way to go.


I am not discouraging him at all, just being honest. He intends to invest quite a bit of time and money into a license that will probably not get him a better paying job. Although having a license could get him hired as a deckhand where as someone green wouldn’t get hired, but since he is already decking on a tug I don’t see the point.

No DE here but I know a few. There is a possibility of him sailing for a ham sandwich to get some signatures.

He is after Near Coastal.

He needs to have the license in order to ever get a job as mate. There might not be an opening now but you never know when the opening will happen and if he doesn’t already have the license he has ZERO chance at the job.

Then he needs all the STCW classes as well. That makes things significantly more expensive…

If just gets a 200 ton near coastal then apprentice mate , he can skip the stcw bs

Ok I gotcha…
Well, I follow two rules:

• if you want to have a job, you will find a job

• get everything you can, while you can, as soon as you can (regarding endorsements, ratings, licenses)

I personally know guys, both masters, sort of representing both of those points.
First guy just went for it (he actually keeps telling me about that first “rule” over and over) and has a nice job. The guy’s set. He could go further, but he doesn’t need to.

The other guy, his good buddy, never followed the “rule” number 2 and is still bound near coastal and on larger tugs he’s just a deckhand…

Do you like taking sewage pumps apart to look for treasure??

Sometime they feed you, but you probably won’t want to eat it since you know where it came from.

I worked on a dinner boat for 6 years.

My favorite sound is an electric snake motor bogging down after hitting a clog.

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He should have a medical certificate, it is good until it expires, so this is not a cost to upgrade.

The TOAR can, and probably should be done on a towing vessel. He should look for a job on deck on a boat whose Captain is an approved Designated Examiner. That way he can them do the TOAR at no cost, and gets the deck experience most companies will want before hiring him as a mate.

He already took first aid, he doesn’t need it again unless he also needs STCW (see below).

He will need AB and Lifeboatman or Lifeboatman-Limited if he is going for Master/Mate 500 GRT. If he meets the sea time for 500 GRT, he will be good on the time for AB and shouldn’t need another exam.

For 500 GRT, he will need basic and advanced firefighting.

If he doesn’t already have Radar Observer, he needs that.

If he is looking near-coastal or oceans, it will be extremely more involved and expensive. There will be a lot of STCW requirements that will b needed. He might have avoided this by starting a year or so earlier, but now that the grandfathering for STCW has passed, there will be a lot more needed, they should be listed on the NMC checklist for Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW).

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I assume that he has taken celestial navigation courses since he already has a 100T sailing endorsement. Otherwise, that will be a major expense. I have had an Unlimited Radar Observer, and AB special with lifeboatman endorsement, and both of those can also be expensive. However, obtaining an AB ticket with lifeboatman doesn’t really pose a problem. Some of my things were grandfathered in because of my sea time. The old saying that you have to pay to play still applies whenever anyone upgrades any license. It is far better to have the proper credentials that employers are looking for instead of not having them. Good luck to him!

You don’t need celestial nav to get a 100 gt sailing endorsement.

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