Career advice - Hawsepipe or MITAGS?

Hi All,

Looking for a little career advice.

First question: I’m in my late 20’s and I currently working as a ferry captain in New York, with a 100 ton license. I’m pretty interested in moving to a sector of the industry with more room for advancement and Tugs seem like a great place to work. I’m wondering what the best route from the deck to the pilothouse is for a person with 5+ years of (inland) seatime? I understand the workboat academy can confer a 1600ton Mate of towing license in 2 years, this seems like a pretty attractive option, but I’m wondering if it’s the best way to make use of the sea time I’ve already logged? Since I live in NY, SUNY Maritime AAS or the Masters program are also options…

Second: I’m thinking about sending out some resumes and seeing if the tug life works for me. I have no experience on a towing vessel and absolutely want to start from the bottom and learn every aspect of the job thoroughly, is it best to apply for positions as an OS or to get my AB special and apply?

Thank you!

Get an AB, then get a job on a tug, then get a 500/1600 ton near coastal, depending on your time it may be easier to go right to master.

I don’t get why more 100-ton people don’t have an AB. They really limit their options for employment where an AB is usually worth more than the 100-ton license. Not a rant directed at you personally, just an observation.

The academy route is only good if you want the degree at this point and need hand-holding on the license. They’re great if you don’t already have sea-time but you should be able to move up in a couple years (2-3) on tugs vs 4 years at an academy plus a year or two as a training bitch on a tug (5-6). Workboat academy doesn’t sound like a bad deal but it would depend on how long you’d have to wait to get in and everything.

I am working my way out of a similar situation.

First, get familiar with the checklists that relate to your situation. If you have been running a boat over 50 tons, you likely qualify for at least a 500 or 1600 ton mates ticket, if not a master 500. Get this credential, and a radar endorsement if you don’t all ready have one. at the very least get the five hundred ton mate, it will open doors a bit later if you decide to pursue a mate of towing. i’ll leave it to you to find out how.

Second, and most likely before you get said 500 ton ticket, get the AB special. For sure. Right now. Commit to it. Immediately. You will also need BST, and lifeboatmen/PSC. Don’t skimp on the STCW side of things and only do the national lifeboatman, you will be screwing yourself hard. Get set up with Rates forming part of a nav watch as well, and you will be on your way to being competitive for an entry level position in the workboat industry.

Understand that you will not be the captain at your new job. Prepare to humble thyself. You will be a hand learning the ropes and treated as such. I hope you haven’t been a dick to your present crew just for the sake of it, because karma is a PITA, and on a tug it comes in the form of needle guns, grinders, clogged heads, and officers that think you can whip up super fancy coffee on a whim using a second rate Bun coffee maker and Chock Full O Nuts coffee. Learn everything you can, as fast as you can, including the coffee thing.

About my situation, and hopefully a little motivation for you to get that ab special; I came out of the small boat business, just like you. I was the captain or senior guy at my outfit for a lot of years. I decided to get serious about making this industry a career. I applied everywhere that I could walk into. After not hearing back from places that were hiring, I asked a manager during an interview what I could do to be more competitive in the local market. He said: “every hotshot that comes through that door has a 100 ton. Get an AB.” So I did, went back in to the same office with the sticker still drying on my credential two months later, and got hired immediately. I’m now working on upgrades for my license while running a boat and decking on tugs when I can.

Get the AB special, it’s the door opener you need. good luck!