Brown water to Blue water

I’m a Steersman working for Kirby Inland Marine. I’ve been out here about 6 years now. I’ve always worked inland from a green deckhand, tankerman, all the way to steersman. I have my Mate Pilot of inland waterways and western rivers and a limited Radar endorsement but haven’t been able to land a Pilots position yet. Is it possible for a guy like me work for a Blue water company as a Mate near coastal without having to starr all over as an OS? Would really appreciate any suggestions. Thanks

Since your license is only good inland, and you didn’t say you hold AB, OS is probably your only option near-coastal. IF you held Master of Towing inland, you could get Mate of Towing near-coastal by passing an exam. See 46 CFR 11.464 .

I do not have my AB. Obtaining my masters is definitely something I could wait for. I haven’t found any schools near Houston that have an AB course scheduled in the near future. I love working on boats. I just can’t stand working a 2 for 1 schedule and for most inland companies that is you’re only option. I’d kill for a day for day job. Even if it was a pay cut. Some things you can’t put a price on. Thank you for the feedback.

Canal Barge is inland and works day for day. A lot of the river companies Ingram etc work day for day I imagine. You will need to add a lot to your license. I would recommend getting the Masters first, as Mr cavo said, its fairly easy to add near coastal if you wanted just through testing.

There is no requirement to take a course for AB. The requirement is for an exam and you can take it an REC. Even if you hold off until you get Master inland, having AB might be useful. Many companies might want you to work on deck before they place you as Mate.

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I would think most would agree with me that self studying and sitting for the ab exam is the way to go. You already hold a deck license and the material for the ab is similar yet easier. Just have to brush up on knots and splices and you should be good to go.


Testing without taking a course to brush up at a local school has always been an intimidating notion. I suppose it’s definitely possible though. I am gonna look into Canal. I’ve seen a few of their boats on the ICWW. Thank you for the help.


I’ll check the web and get some examples of the knots. I’m sure it’s a random selection of knots they choose from. Last I heard they ask for 9. I typically only use 3 or 4 on a daily basis. Hearing from people that have already been there and done that is a confidence booster for sure. Thank You, sir.


I wouldn’t mind working the deck. I wouldn’t mind the pay cut for a few years either. Being 25 gives me a little time to figure these things out. I’m just looking for a good home. My older brother worked for Moran as a Barge Captain for years and loved it. My pop was an inland Boat Captain. I prefer the wheelhouse, but I couldn’t do a 20 days on and 10 days off rotation forever. I’ll do what I have to in order to get sea time and upgrade my liscence. Just wanting to set myself a game plan for the future. Thanks again.


Don’t forget about Deck Seafarer International Endorsement. You may find a harder time finding work as an AB without it.


Will do. Thanks

The knots are listed in the NMC “exam guide.” See page 37.

Will they consider my sea time? I heard inland days don’t apply to AB

AB should be fine. The problem is going to be getting RFPNW, which you’re going to need to work anywhere as an AB.

I need that to get my STCW, right? Everything I’m finding online states I have to have sea time as an OS to obtain that. I don’t understand how people aquire these before they are already out there.

That would be like someone recommending you go get your AB and you asking “I need that to get my USCG, right?”

Disclaimer: I realize that a LOT of people, especially office staff, use this wrong so you have no way of knowing better.

The Standards of Training, Certification, and Watckeeping lays down training guidelines for the issuing of endorsements. To serve as an OS would require you to have STCW endorsements for Basic Training and, at a minimum, Security Awareness but probably Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties.

You have sea time as an OS but you do need some offshore time. You also need to do assessments on equipment your boats might not have and that the officers you work with are almost guaranteed not to be qualified to sign off.

When I first starting working in this industry, you didn’t even need anything from the Coast Guard to find work. Now it’s getting hard to find work if you don’t at least have an AB. There are still companies that will hire you as an OS. The pickings are just getting slimmer. You might be able to find work as a cook/deckhand if you have any cooking experience. In the few outfits I know anything about, that seems to be the job they’re willing to put an OS in. Your advantage is you aren’t green.
For the knots, I recommend, “Morrow’s Book of Knots”, and YouTube. Here’s an example-

Good Luck.

Sounds like a brick wall. I appreciate the input. I’ve learned so much today. It sounds hard, but not impossible.

Most of the seasoned guys I know would agree. Times are changing. I’ll stick with studying my knots and rules of the road and shoot for an AB for now. Thank you

You’re highly experienced on deck, which will make a big difference with you finding work over a normal OS. You can get the AB now and work in the RFPNW one you get hired somewhere.

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