Diary of a PMI/Workboat Academy Cadet

Howdy everyone!

For those who don’t know- PMI and their sister school MITAGS offer an excellent program for entry level and experienced mariners to obtain a mate’s license aboard tugs, research vessels, OSV’s, and small cruise ships. The 2 year program alternates classroom training and working aboard vessels in a format that let you get your mate’s license in much less time- and for much less money- than the typical “hawsepipe” system of working your way up the ladder. More information can be found at www.workboatacademy.com

This is the first post in a series- detailing my experiences as a cadet at Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle Washington. My hope is to give those considering becoming a cadet some insight into what it’s like being a cadet. I will try to post as often as my tight schedule of school, studying, and working a night job allows. Feel free to PM or email me with any questions you may have-Anthony

Today was my my first day as a cadet in the “workboat academy” cadet program at pacific Maritime Institute-Seattle Washington. Just last Friday I was sitting at my computer back home in Colorado. I got a message from gcaptain.com forum member “danzante”- whose alter ego is Jill Russell, PMI’s operations manager. She asked If I wanted to be in the program. I responded-absolutely!:slight_smile: Then she asked if I could be in Seattle, ready to go first thing Monday morning!:eek: PMI- and Jill and Marjah in particular- bent over backwards to help me get in on short notice- thanks!

I’ve worked on ships since 2006- starting as a dishwasher and moving up to deckhand. All that while I’d been looking for a way to get the training I need to become a mate-then captain-without going to a 4 year academy.

In life opportunities are often available for only a minute. I didn’t have have money for tuition, a ticket to Seattle, or a place to stay. What I did have was a STRONG desire to succeed- whatever the price.

I had enough money for my ticket, and a few night at the hostel- which I bought immediately. After making a few calls and selling a few of my things- I had my first quarter’s tuition and living expenses. (Raised an additional $1500 today as well:)) I found a free bunk near PMI by trading work for lodging at a hostel- as did another of our cadets. I packed my bags and set off for Seattle…

My first morning I awoke at 6 am and walked past Pike’s Place Market, past the bristling ferry depot, and South along Seattle’s waterfront to PMI’s facility adjacent the US Coast Guard.

After meeting with Jill and Marjah, two of PMI’s high trained experienced staff) I met the rest of the PMI Workboat Academy-class of March 2010. There are 6 others- 5 male and 1 female. Most have have some maritime experience, but not all. Ages range from early 20’s to 40’s. The only common denominator is a passion for a career in the maritime industry.

We all seemed a little nervous as we waited for class to begin. The rest of the class had just completed their basic safety training (BST) and spoke highly of the instruction in first aid, cpr, firefighting, water survival, etc. I arrived after the program started so will have to take the class at a later date. We talked until class began.

First up- introductions- the staff and students took turns introducing themselves. I was impressed that the faculty outnumbered students, that all of the staff seemed happy to be there, and by the collective experience of everyone there. We could tell we were in good hands.:slight_smile:

Next we toured the facility. Highlights included-

*Spacious classrooms

*A fully stocked break room

*Several amazing simulators. We were each given an opportunity to steer a dual z drive tug outside Vancouver B.C. Very impressive- it felt like we were actually rocking in the waves!

  • In house IT and simulation departments. We were especially impressed by the way the talented simulation developer was creating a life-like simulation of the Houston Ship Canal. When he is done will be able to experience lifelike scenery, currents, and weather for Houston- all from PMI’s Seattle simulator…

  • A medical lab- complete with skeleton;)

and more…

Next we got first hand advice from the graduating class- what to bring for the sea phases of our program, how to be a good ship mate, what not to do on the boat, etc. The most important advice is pertinent anywhere- work hard, do good job, do more than the minimum, and do it with a smile.

Lastly- we went over the training and assessment manuals for the program. PMI’s strength is that it combines classroom, simulator, and vessel experience into a program that squeezes years of training into a 24 month schedule. A large part of that is because , unlike traditional training, you also perform training ands assessments while aboard your boat or ship.

That’s all for today- tomorrow is ratings Forming Part of a Navigational watch (RFPNW)

Until Next Time-Anthony:)


I have followed your postings in gCaptain for a year now and would like to congratulate you on being accepted at PMI. My wife and I live on our sailboat on Bainbridge Island, a 30 min. ferry ride from Seattle. If you feel like getting away from school later on, you would be welcomed to visit and have lunch with us some weekend. Let me know if this would interest you.
I work in the GOM on a DSV and commute every other month, currently I am recovering from an injury to my knee :mad: and so will be around for the next two months.


James- thank you for your words of encouragement- and the invitation.:slight_smile: I would love to take you up on your offer. Not sure when it will be as I’m still getting settled in, studying, and looking for a night job to pay the bills.

Sorry to hear about your knee:o I believe every adversity carries within it the seed of an equal benefit- and I hope that in your case that benefit is spending time with family and friends on your beautiful island. (I’ve visited- and am jealous:D)

Wishing you a speedy recovery-Anthony

PS- will try to writ another update on the program for everyone tonight:)

FYI, I posted this to the blog as a YOUblog featured article. Nice work Anthony and good luck!


Wow-cool! Thanks Mikey:)

I guess this means I’m infamous now;)

I’m sure you all get tired of hearing it- but thanks for all the work you, John, Tim, Doug and everyone else do for us- it’s definitely appreciated:)


Day 2…

I’m staying (for now) at the Green Tortoise hostel- next to the world famous Pike Place Fish Market in downtown Seattle. You have to check out the market- it’s a labyrinth of every conceivable type of shop. Here you’ll find flowers stalls, next to screaming men throwing fish, right next to top notch dining- check it out if in town…

The hostel is a great place if you’re on a budget. You get a bunk, a free breakfast, internet access, etc- all for under $30. Clean place-friendly staff. Location is excellent- on the city bus route and walking distance to everything in downtown Seattle- as well as PMI.

Today was RFPNW class for the cadets- as well as a bunch of folks from Crowley who came into join us. For the newbies- RFPNW stands for “Ratings forming Part of a Navigation Watch” Get used to acronyms and abbreviations if you want to work on the water. There’s TWIC, MMD, USCG, BST, OINCW, STCW, QMED, BST, PSC, and if you’re the new guy (or gal) you may even hear…FNG! :wink: It can be confusing when you’re new- but you need to learn these terms if you want to work in the industry…

Our instructor for RFPNW was the ever capable Marjah- a veteran ship’s officer with experience on tugs, cruise ships and more. She’s a good instructor- great mix of common sense, humor, and “command presence” which most officers have. She’s a tough lady- but you always know she has the students best interests at heart.

What do you learn in RFPNW in just one day? Lots! Including-

*Why RFPNW is required under STCW…

*Your duties as a helmsman or lookout…

*How to be an effective lookout- what to do- what not to do…

*What to look, listen, and smell for- such as vessels, lights, obstructions-etc…

  • The right and wrong ways to stand a helm (steering) watch…

*The right and wrong ways to communicate on the bridge…

*Learning how to report vessels and other items via- points, boxing the compass, and relative bearing…

*Helm commands- what they mean, and the proper way to respond

*The effects of variation and deviation when plotting a course- and how to calculate them (this was especially useful to me)

*and more…

Lots of stuff for one day-huh? :slight_smile:

Most was pretty simple to me- but took a little while for some of the new folks.

Marjah did a great job ensuring that everyone understood all the key points. It’s a testament to her ability that we all passed.

Most of us now have- “RFPNW- lookout duties only” and need seatime and onboard experience to get the “full” RFPNW.

Marjah shook everyone’s hand- and presented us all with our very own diploma:)

What’s next for the PMI cadets? A few things coming up-

*Engine room familiarization with Captain Pete. Pete and I sailed together a few years ago on one of my cruise ships. He’s a great asset to the cadets. Not only is he a captain- he also has a chief engineeer’s license. That’s like being a doctor- and a lawyer- at the same time:eek:

  • We are also excited to be going on a tug boat ride around Seattle with one of our sponsors- Western Towboat. I’m told they have the cleanest, best painted boats around- though I hope to change that once I get to my vessel;)

Until next time- smooth sailing:) Anthony

This is a great read, I look foward to reading more and more of your adventure.Thanks!

Yeah, it’s going to be cool to follow your progress. I hope you don’t get burned out on blogging. I also hope you will still find time to participate in the job leads thread. I’m not currently looking for work, but I have found your input there informative and I know you’ve been helpful to quite a few people. Good luck.


I enjoyed your posting in what I know will be a very long thread spanning at least a couple of years.

I am looking forward to following your progress.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Thanks again everyone- I appreciate all the well wishes and support. Still pinching myself at my good luck- especially when I know many people out there who are FAR BETTER deckhands, mates and captains than I- and are out of work:o

Jthomas 1600- I have a personal rule that if a day passes without my learning something, giving something, and improving something- I feel I have wasted this gift that is life. I’m blessed that I’ve been able to give a little each day through posting job leads- and will continue to post them as often as I can-work/school permitting- and will have a new one tonight. Feel free to email if you have specific questions:) Anthony


Day 3 of my Workboat Academy voyage…

(Wow- can’t believe it’s the 3rd day already…)

Today was a busy day! We watched a safety video from Crowley, got a great engine room familiarization lecture from the talented Captain Pete Pettersen, had a vessel/nautical terminology class… and were the guests of Jeff Schlesinger and Western Towboat. They were kind enough to be our hosts- taking us for a ride on the absolutely spotless tug “Western Titan” as well as giving us some great hands on experience on a tug- on behalf of all the cadets- than you!

My homework tonight is to write an essay on today’s experience with Wester- so that will be at the bottom- That way I can cut, paste, and voila- instant essay!

1st thing today we watched a video from Crowley on towing safety. It helped me as I had never seen a lot of the gear I’d be working with- for me a picture is often “worth a thousand words” and helps me learn faster.

We also received an in depth training book and instruction on vessel/nautical terms- everything for the basic (port/starboard) to lots of stuff I’ve never heard (like lazarette) and benefitted all of us- regardless of prior experience.

Next up- my former Captain (he’s also a chief engineer!:eek:) and all around good guy Pete Pettersen gave a lecture on engine room familiarization. This was especially valuable for me- as I have no engineering experience. I will definitely need to do extra study on this.

Whether you are a deckhand, mate, or captain- you need to know something about the engine room and what’s going on. Your life, vessel and crew depend on your ability to make command decisions- including in relation to what’s happening down below.

Pete mixed sea stories (like the one about the guy who stole a Russian Trawler:D) with knowledge about what you need to check on an engine room watch. He packed a lot in- but a few of the main points were-

*Know your way around the engine room- including exits

*Find out what the acceptable ranges for different readings/machinery are- and report anything out of range to the chief engineer or captain

*Conduct mental “role playing” of different emergency scenarios and look for solutions- now- not when there’s an emergency.

*Be alert- take your watch seriously. Look , listen, and smell for anything out of the ordinary.

*Report even small concerns- most accidents are the result of human error.

It was a good class- alternating clips of bears boxing fishermen with explanations of turbos, heat exchangers, and centrifuges.

Thanks Pete:)

Today was my first experience aboard a tugboat- courtesy of Jeff Schlesinger and the fine folks at Western Towboat. While waiting to meet Captain Schlesinger we able to get a close up view of their new tug- under construction at the yard. It seemed ENORMOUS- as did the nearby z-pods!:eek:

Captain Schlesinger was a very gracious, patient, and knowledgeable host. I think it says a lot about the man- and company- that they would volunteer time, effort, and energy to train cadets who will be working for other companies.:slight_smile:

Western Towboat has a reputation for clean boats- but I was literally SHOCKED at how nice they were- you could see the reflection from the bulkhead walls from 10 feet away! The interiors were even better- spotless, huge head (that’s a bathroom newbies) great galley (kitchen) AMAZING staterooms- with high polished wood trim- and a spotless (literally) engine room and pilot house!

Captain Schlesinger explained that each company does things differently- but was also nice enough to give us a copy of deckhand duties for his boats. There are around 100 items- no wonder their boats look great! I didn’t ask permission to share details- but here’s some idea of some of what you’ll do as a deckhand on a tug-

  • Clean- everything- to a high standard

*Examine, oil, and grease all tools and deckhand equipment- regularly

*Examine the whole vessel- make a list of what needs to be painted, repaired, etc on the next voyage

*Inspect/clean engine room

*Plus- cooking, standing watches, making/breaking tows, conducting drills, loading groceries… it’s a lot of work!

Before embarking we gathered for a safety meeting with the boat’s employees. Western takes safety seriously- as was obvious in the meeting. We went over- the reason behind and importance of safety meetings, how they came about and the benefits they have- especially ensuring that all team members understand the tasks required of them- and are capable of completing them safely.

Safety meting are important- especially before handling lines, making or breaking tows, and in adverse conditions. I hope every company I work for has them.

Next we received some instructions in handling /throwing mooring lines. It’s been a while since I’ve used them and am rusty- it was good to get some practice!

Some things to remember-

*protect your back when moving/pulling/throwing lines

*Always be vigilant of your surroundings, tension on the like, vessel motion, the location of other team members, etc.

*Watch your fingers! Put lines on in a way that your fingers can’t get trapped/pinched

*Be sure to consider the lead (direction) of th line and whether it may rise- take this into account when securing line on bitts, cleats, etc.

Next part was fun- going through the locks!

We all helped securing and releasing the vessel- using what we’d learned to work together- for the 1st time.

Next we explored the vessel- once again- it was NICE!

Our next "class: was the proper way to use the capstan- the right way to wrap the line, where to stand to be safe, etc. We all practiced while our instructor watched closely. This helped because we got a taste of how to prepare and re-coil the towing wire/gear.

One thing that was drilled into us- stay vigilant- and out of the bight of lines and cables. Stay out of danger zones. Watch and listen. Any time you are aft (behind) the winch or capstan- be especially careful. Look for escape routes and take a mental picture of the deck.

Next we climbed the ladder to the next deck as the Western Titan Crew got everything ready to hook up to a barge loaded with around 350 containers, several vehicles, and a small bulldozer. The crew worked fast and withing minutes was ready.

We all benefited from this- a lot. Why? Because- all of a sudden the terms we had been learning- such as “Swede Wire” “Safety Strap” “Pee Vee” became clear.

We saw-

*How the deckhand climbs the “pigeon holes” to the barge…

  • How the Swede wire and safety wire are used to transfer the tow bridle pigtail to the tug

*How the safety strap holds the pigtail in place while the Swede wire is removed from the pigtail- and replaced with the tow wire

  • How the shackle, bolt, nut, and kotter pis connect the “d” socket to the pigtail

  • how the wire is placed securely between the pins, and safety strap

*and so forth

It was time to say goodbye to the tug- and crew. The tug “flopped” alongside the barge- and was quickly secured. We wished the crew a safe voyage to Alaska and climbed over to the barge- then the dock.

Except for a few of the students who came from the towing industry- we aren’t towboaters yet. But we now have a little familiarity- and hands on experience. I’m grateful to get it now- before getting on my first tug as a deckhand.

From the 2010 Workboat Mate Program - to Captain Jeff Schlesinger, The crew of the Western Titan, and to all of Western Towboat Company- Thank you- and smooth sailing:)


Anthony - I really think this a great idea with you posting daily. I feel this is a wonderful first hand account of what PMI offers and what one can expect if they so chose to attend the school. Hmm, possible endorsement possibilities for you? lol, just kidding Jill. Keep up the great work. Hell, one day they might actually give me a boat and I would be honored to have you and Pete (another PMI guy) on the bridge team.

LOL Brian. I gave him a PMI coffee cup. Does that count as an endorsement opportunity?

And you should all know that Anthony is writing these posts of his own volition. Several PMI cadets have blogged about their 2 year journey, however, Anthony has, without a doubt, the largest following. He came into my office this morning and asked if it was OK that he started this log on gCaptain. I said absolutely it was OK. My only request to Anthony was that if he had an issue with PMI, one of our instructors or anything in regards to his company, that he gives me an opportunity to address it before he posts anything about it. We both thought that was fair.

I’m as excited as each of you are to read upcoming installments in his journey and wish Anthony nothing but fair winds and following seas!

:rolleyes: Not just a coffee cup (for each of the cadets) but also- donuts on Friday!:smiley: If you’re in Seattle and considering getting training- stop in and share- just don’t take all the Boston Creme’s!

Nope- no endorsement deal.

I enjoy writing- especially if I’m in a position to write something of benefit to others. I met a cadet from PMI few years ago and had lots of questions about the program. He was a good guy- but couldn’t tell me anything about the way it worked. So- I’m writing hoping that someone reading finds some benefit.

I haven’t had any negative experiences with PMI. If I do- Jill will be the first person to hear. That being said- I’m of the old school train of thought- “if you don’t have anything nice to say- don’t say anything at all” Or- at least express it as " I would have preferred it if…"

One thing I would like to say- they call it the workboat academy for a reason. I’ve been writing positive updates because that’s what I’ve experienced. It is however- a lot of work, study, and financial commitment. It’s not for everyone- and neither is working on ships.

Our attitudes serve as filter to the way we interpret our day to day experiences. I’m sure that a negative person could complain about a lot of things- tough classes, tough instructors, tough finances- etc. But at the end of the day- these are PERSONAL things- and have nothing to do with PMI. I haven’t had any negative experiences- and I don’t expect any. Challenges? Yes. But not problems.

If you meet me in person- you’ll see that I’m an extremely “no nonsense” person. I don’t give praise where it’s not due- and I’m not easy to impress. I am genuinely impressed by what I’ve seen and excited to be part of the program.

That’s it- stepping down from my soapbox (gotta go study…)

Jill- If I have anything negative- I’ll come see you first. I will ,however, make sure I remember to embarrass you with your penguin story from earlier today. No need for thanks- we sailors watch out for one another;)

Day 4- the end of my 1st week at PMI:)

I’m amazed at how much the school packs in each day. I learn a lot but sometimes have to scramble to keep up- or study extra at night…

Today was a full day- even though I got out early. It was nice to have a few hours off- I’ve been working from 6 am to 10pm for the last few days…

First up- Captain Pete was nice enough to come in and give us some additional engine room familiarization via a powerpoint. I was VERY happy to see this as the engine side of vessels is a week point for me. We got the short version of a course which normally takes 35 hours. I’m hoping to come back at some point and take the full class.

Even in an hour- I was able to get about 10 pages of notes and diagrams- by writing NONSTOP. There’s no way anyone would confuse me for an engineer but I now have a grasp of the differences between 2stroke and 4stroke engines, different speeds and types of engines, differences between turbines, azipods,z pods, and other propulsion systems- and a heck of a lot more:) I plan on finding some books and websites on the subject this weekend. If you have any suggestions on easy to read material - please share!

One of the things I like a lot is that other PMI instructors, and current/former students drop in to share knowledge- every day. (I haven’t told anyone other than the staff about my blog- so haven’t shared student names-in general)

Today we had Jill (danzante) and PMI’s first female workboat cadet- who is currently studying for her upcoming test.

Jill dropped in early and entertained us with a few stories. She has a background on research vessels. She made it clear thather door is always open- and to come to her for advice on research vessels vessels (which 3 of the cadets will be aboard)

Then she says- “sorry all you towing people- I have no tug experience!” “Never liked the idea of having something following me around” Kinda creepy" Which was good for a laugh… Then she tells us about how she once worked on a research ship in Antarctica- and felt bad for the the penguins she was tracking via antenna…

I have this mental picture of a penguin waddling along… looking over it’s shoulder- and seeing Jill… Jill looking off to the side-pretending not to be following… and the poor penguin feeling all self conscious. Like Jill said- gotta be awkward for the penguin!:smiley:

Lots of great stories like this from the instructors- and cadets…

Speaking of cadets- a great feature of the program is that you can speak to cadets- who were recently in your shoes- about issues that may you have. They know what you’re going through- have lots of tips-and (especially helpful) have worked for the same companies (usually) you’ll be working for.

Our cadet speaker today gave a safety talk (you’ll get a lot of these) and added some new stuff, She did a great job of mixing seriousness with jokes. A couple of points she made-

  • ALWAYS carry a knife
    *Carry electric tape- comes in handy
    *Bring sunblock, ear plugs, and polarized sunglasses

She also gave a good/real life example of why situational awareness is important. Thanks for the tips!

Next- and this was another big one for me- cooking! YES- if you are on tugs you will be cooking. I have worked in several ship’s galleys- but have very little cooking experience- so this helped a lot. Marja (who loves cooking) was nice enough to give me and a few others extra help after class- which was appreciated.

Food is a big deal on any ship- and especially on tugs. Good,tasty, healthy food keeps your energy up- and is VERY important for morale.Most boats and ships take good care of the crews- and keep them well fed.

Some important points (there are a LOT more)

  • Being a tug cook is hard- you have to think ahead, prep food in advance, improvise, and be careful? Why? Because you are also working on deck, cleaning, painting, working on the bridge, doing engine room rounds, participating in drills- and studying for school.

*On a tug- prep food in advance- and always have something made in advance for emergencies.

  • get up early- and show up early on crew change day to make sure you have good meals made- and everything stowed.

  • Try to find out what people like/don’t like and be accommodating- to a degree.You want to be a good cook- but you have other work to do- so it’s important to keep things fairly simple.

*Always have cookies made :slight_smile:

  • Prep when you have extra time- and good weather/seas

  • You have to adapt to being on the boat- secure cabinets and fridge- and make sure you secure food being cooked- so it doesn’t spill. We got several good tips for this

*Buy 3-4 ingredient cookbooks…

There’s actually a LOT more to this- such as taking inventory… Again- I will be buying books for extra study…

We wished fair winds and following seas to a fellow cadet who is shipping out to Taiwan. It’s his first hitch at sea- and he gets to go to Taiwan- I am totally jealous! Stay safe amigo…

After everyone else left Marjah drove me to meet with my new port captain- Scott Manley from Harley Marine. (A port captain handles shoreside operations- as do Port Engineers)

My first impression of my sponsor company- Harley Marine? I’m IMPRESSED! Beautiful offices- including an awesome in wall aquarium full of multicolored tropical fish. VERY professional looking operation. I’m new to tugs- and very impressed with the quality of all of the crews I’ve met, their boats, and facilities.

Captain Manley came out and introduced himself with a smile- liked him immediately. Very friendly- very good at putting you at ease (I was a bit nervous coming in) We followed him to the conference room- which was huge- had high ceilings, wall to wall windows, and a table large enough for several dozen people.

I felt the meeting went well. I liked the attention Captain Manley gave to explaining the company’s commitment to safety and training. He described the boats and barges that I’ll be working on- as well as a new barge they have coming out soon. I had a few questions about gear and schedule- and he filled me in. Through it all he was very friendly and was a great firs t impression for the company.

I have to thank Marjah for asking a question I forgot to… Harley is putting me on as a cadet- and I’ll be an observer for a while. This is good for me- as I can learn without being thrown blind into the work. Nothing is harder than being new- wanting to do a good job/fit in- but being clueless. It can also be dangerous. I’ve been on ships where you’re new- and told to “observe” and not jump in to work- the have other people yell at you for not working.

It’s a tough spot to be in- if you work- someone is mad- if you don’t work- someone is mad. In my case- it screwed up my confidence for several weeks- I was scared to do anything. Marjah confirmed that I was to observe for a while- until everyone was comfortable with me working on deck. When the captain wants me to work on deck- they will tell me.

That’s really important- because a of the time- nobody tells you when you’re supposed to stop watching- and start working. I will be working though- cleaning, painting, cooking, getting things ready for everyone- and am excited to get on deck!

It can be tough having an extra person onboard- especially if they are new. I think it’s indicative of Harley’s level commitment to safety, training and quality that they let me observe first- and it’s a relief to me.

Once again- thanks Marjah for all the extra help today.

And a special thanks to Port Captain Scott Manley and Harley for sponsoring me:)

This weekend is pretty full for me- I have to go buy rain gear, boots, another knife, books, flashlight- etc.

I will be studying- cooking, trigonometry (for upcoming navigation classes) terrestial navigation, engineering/propulsion principles, plus some AB stuff for next week.

Hope this has benefited someone.

Feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions.

Until Monday- smooth sailing-Anthony

Wow seems like a lot of stuff, but I’m glad to see that your excited about it.

Wish they had this when I first started working in the Gulf. They started the Workboat Academy right as I got my 100 ton license and the thought of going back to deck for another 2 years is not appealing to me.

Aloha! Had a good weekend- bought some gear/knives/boots-etc.

Not going to post about class until later.

Just wanted to stop by to say thanks to Jill, John and a few other at PMI- for job VERY well done.:slight_smile:

A fellow PMI student- in a another class (not a cadet) had a heart attack in the bathroom. Jill and John -whom I saw respond- and the other staff- who I didn’t see- followed their training and were able to use the AED within a minute or two of the incident.

The Seattle Fire Department/EMS were also great- and on the scene VERY quickly.

Thanks to their efforts- he made it out alive.

Without rapid action- the situation could have been much worse:o

All the cadets are hoping for a full recovery- and thinking of our fellow mariner.

Again- good job!:slight_smile:

Anthony, here is wishing for a full recovery !

Bravo Zulu Jill…

Day 1 of Week 2 at PMI.

This week is Able Bodied Seaman Class (sorry- Able Bodied Seafarer)

This class includes a lot of topics- so we’ll be in here since Friday.

Teaching AB class is new (to us) instructor- SUNY Maritime graduate Christine Klimkowski. Jill has a wide range of vessel experience- including MSC contract work and Ro-Ros. Ro-Ro stands for roll on- roll off vessel. For example- a vessel transporting bulldozers. (Christine had a great sea story about a bulldozer coming loose in a hold- and piercing the hull- which she used to illustrate the importance of properly securing, inspecting, and re-securing cargo.)

All the cadets like Christine- she’s knowledgeable, easygoing, and is great at illustrating concepts in an easy to understand manner. She will also be teaching our upcoming terrestrial navigation class.

We were also joined by 2 non cadets. One is Coast Guard-works on a buoy tender. The other runs crewboats out of Port Angeles. They are both very knowledgeable and a great asset to the cadets:)

PMI gave us a large AB book to use as a study aid. I’ve seen other AB guides- from other schools- this one definitely has more info. It’s more in depth than I expected- which is a good thing. The one thing that I felt could be better so far- the sections on buoys and rules of the road is black and white. Very in depth- but color would be good.:slight_smile: The powerpoint slides are in color though- so you can label the entries in the book. Also- PMI loaned us all copies of “Rules of the Road” which shows us the different lights- in color. Lastly- they gave us a link to the Rules online- I’ll look for the address and post later:)

We went through a lot today. In brief-

The duties and responsibilities of an AB.

Types of AB- and seatime/tonnage requirements-


(No mention was made of AB sail/fishing/MODU- I will recommend this tomorrow)

The Two written tests and 1 knots test we’ll need to pass. (If you pass the AB test you don’t have to test with the Coast Guard)

Vessel construction nomenclature- the names of all the different structural elements.

Freeboard, draft, and depth. Lots of other terminology- some I knew- but learned a lot too.:slight_smile:

Taking draft measurements-correctly.

Different motions of the vessel- such as pitch, roll, yaw, heave-etc.

Dangerous situations to get into- like broach and pitchpoling- one of our cadets was pitchpoled on a sailboat- said it “felt like getting catapulted”!:smiley:

Next up was aids to navigation (atons) such as buoys , ranges, daybeacons, lighthouses.

This was especially beneficial to me personally.

Lots of info in this part- types of aids to navigation, how to decipher the color, shape, markings, lights etc. Knowing this info helps you tell where the preferred or secondary channels are, where isolated dangers are, and generally- where you need to steer.

Then it was on to rules of the road- again pretty in depth.

We learned a little history of the Rules- then moved on to International VS Inland Rules, the rules themselves,classes of vessel- such as sail, CBD, RAM,etc- lights, flags and day shapes for various types of vessels, give way vs stand on vessels, the hierarchy of right of way for different types of vessels (everybody was impressed with the WIG)

Next we discussed the Rules in head on, overtaking, and crossing situations. Lastly- we did sound and emergency signals- indicating when you are altering (or intend to alter) course, danger signals, signals in restricted visibility for different situations and vessels, and distress signals.

Lights and signals are important- if you know what to look/listen for you can tell what type of vessel you’re looking at, it’s size, heading, etc. They can also keep you from colliding/alliding with a vessel- and vice versa. But only with vigilance and knowledge.

We did a little bit of marlinspike seamanship (knots/splicing) and called it a day.

We still have to do-

anchor operations

mooring- and a bunch more.

Whew- there’s a reason they call this the “Workboat Academy” and we’re not even on a boat yet:D


Things seem to be going faster and faster each day. The other cadets will be shipping out after AB class- and I’m hoping to join them. I may be delayed for a few weeks since I got started later than the other cadets- and missed bst. My bst is still valid (till next year) and isn’t required by USCG or my company- but is required by the program. I’m happy to refresh my training- just hoping it can be a little later- anxious to get aboard my boat! Ran into another cadet the other day- who also works for Harley. He gave me some great info- and I’m now even more stoked to be working for Harley.

I’m a lucky guy:)


it’s day 2 of AB class. Before getting into PMI I had planned on skipping AB class and just taking the test- in order to save money. It’s a good thing I didn’t. I had a decent grasp of knots, rules of the road/, aids to navigation- etc. But- I would have likely failed several areas. To be honest- I had no idea the following were a big part of AB class- different types of block and tackle, computing safe working load with different types of line, parts of yard and stay gear, etc.

What we learned today-

*We had a practical assesssment- a powerpoint of different light configurations for rules of the road- did pretty well on this. To quote a fellow cadet- “the trick to knowing the safe side of a dredge based on day shapes- stay away from balls!” (The class had a good laugh at that one:D)

  • Spent a good amount of time discussing block and tackle, different types, construction, determining mechanical advantage, etc.

*Went over lines and mooring- safety-danger zones, determining where/when snapback is a danger, the purpose of various mooring lines, line maintenance and more.

  • Had familiarization training in other gear- shackles, topping lifts, yard and stay, hooks and so forth…

*Went over wire rope (You rarely call rope-rope unless it’s wire. On a ship- rope is line.)

  • Practiced knots and splicing (marlinspike seamanship)- plus whipping, using a marlinspike, selecting a knife- and so on.

Knots-there are 16 knots the instructor can choose to test you on- you have to do 7 or better out of 10. I know most of them- but had never run into a barrel hitch and a few others.

You also have to be able to splice 3 strand- most of us will be doing an eye splice- but you can also do a short splice.

As far as knots-

If you’re a beginner- I highly recommend www.animatedknots.com to learn- it’s free and easy to understand. There are thousands of knots and splices out there. You don’t use all the knots- and the ones you do use will vary by what type of ship/boat you work on.

If you’re completely new to ships-I think everyone should learn-at a bare minimum-

*Clove Hitch
*Round turn and two Half Hitches
*Overhand knot
*Sheet Bend/Becket bend
*Eye splice (in 3 strand line)

You will learn other knots- but if you show up able to tie these- it’s a good start. Work on tying these with both hands, above your head, etc. Often you have to tie a knot in an awkward position- and it helps if you’ve practiced.

The next part definitely surprised me with it’s complexity- pollution. I expected that this would come later on. The class goes over (in detail) different anti pollution laws Such as Marpol, their history, reasoning, and the legal ramifications behind them.

We spent a lot of time examining the affect of maritime pollution on sea life, the Great Pacific Trash Patch etc.

I felt I benefitted from the class.

One thing you should know if you’re new- pollution and trash control are huge deals on ships. Many ships require you to sort trash by type- metal/glass, paper, plastic, food, etc. On the big cruise ships there is an entire ship’s department for this. You absolutely can’t let any oil or plastic get in the water. There are also procedures when taking trash off. Some can be incinerated- some must be taken off, etc. There are policies , procedures, and laws governing thi- and you need to know them.

Anyway- enough talking trash!:stuck_out_tongue:

Still have a lot more to go over for AB- that’s coming up.

We have to do 2 50 question exams on Friday.

For those ready to get an AB-

Unless you know the difference between a garboard strake and a bilge strake- take the class! Don’t know The lights/flashing sequence for preferred channel buoys? Take the class! Unsure what a 3fold purchase block (at advantage) is- you know the rest:)

If you do take it and need help- shoot me a message.

Until next time-Anthony