Horrible Packer and Anxious

Hi forum, I was hired by MSC as a Third Officer in April. I went through all the new employment processes and am now heading to NEO end of this month. I am usually good at packing for 1 month to 3 month tours out to sea, but MSC says to pack for 6 months.

My question is: what do I really need to pack? I’ve read a thread on here that said I can send extra stuff back home if I need to in Virginia. But what is essentially for these long months out to sea?

Also, what are the watches like for a new Third Officer? And I really don’t want anyone trying to convince me to change careers now while I still have the chance because I’m young and naive. My ex just broke up with me because of my career choice. But I know what I want and will work hard to prove him wrong. Thank you and any other information or advice would be greatly appreciated.

You have a washer and dryer, why would you pack different for six months than for three?

Take at least three uniforms, real ones, khaki, not some cut offs. One pair of blue genes, some shorts, shirts, a decent coat ( water proof), enough boxers and socks for a week, and some work out clothes. You may also toss in some decent trousers and a dress shirt. I always had a rule, if it does not fit in one bag it does not go with me. You may also bring some professional items with you. ( perhaps some " how to" notes for azimuth etc if needed, you don’t want to be a bozo on your first ship and get a name as a dead head)

Watches: you will most likely get the 8-12 and 2000-0000, this is so the capt can keep an eye on you. After the other third mate departs you may get the 1200-1600. In port you will stand various day and night watches. The 2nd mate makes the watch bill and the chief mate signs it.

When you get to the ship look sharp, be interested, do your best job, be a " go to " officer. Get known as someone that can be relied on. If you do this you’ll get a good rep soon enough, if you don’t you’ll get a bad rep soon enough. . People talk, and msc is a small organization.

Oh yea, don’t lie or bs the captain. If you don’t know say so. ( most ask questions to answers they already know just to see what your reaction will be).

Good luck… :slight_smile:

Thanks xmsccapt. Btw I’m a woman so I do not think I’ll be needing any boxers :slight_smile:

But this helps. I’m just anxious to start. Thanks for the info.

Outside of the excellent advice the good captain provides above, I would add a laptop. Government computers are sketchy and you’ll want to access wi-fi ashore whenever you can. Also, 6 months of any prescription meds. On another note: your watch-standers will see how far they can push you right out of the gate. Don’t be shy or intimidated by their age or experience. Establish and maintain your authority early. Soon enough, you’ll be able to identify the reliable old dogs and when you do, learn from them. Welcome aboard!

Oops, ok,… No boxers then. Mainly you can always buy what you need in port after you get there. I would always opt to travel light. As time goes by you’ll get better in taking only what you need. Most people when they begin world travel pack way too much…

Good point about the computer. An iPad would be ideal for travel too. If you don’t have either one can be had at a navy exchange for a decent price after you get your gov Id card.

A further word about watches and watch standers, While the Fat man makes some good points, you need to be firm and fair. You don’t demand respect with the uniform you earn it. Same rule applies for your watch as the rule for captan and crew. Take care of them, earn their respect and they will take care of you. Don’t be a pushover but then don’t be a snob either. There is a fine line and a blend that you have to locate. Be consistent, don’t play favorites.

I would add 2 wrist watches, you never know when one will break or have the battery die. Also a few small note books to keep track of times and log book entries. Plus if its your first time sailing I would bring your celestial note book to reference. And I usually bring an air freshener for the room (not sure if the Guy before you smoked in there) few magazines knife flashlight one bathing suit if your lucky to go some place nice a water bottle that I keep on the bridge and a coffee Thermos

You will be ok as long as you don’t pack your feelings!! Leave those at home! To many touchy feeling mariner around already.

Haha thanks. I promise to keep those in check

Well said, Captain

" ( most ask questions to answers they already know just to see what your reaction will be). "

Yes and be confident (not cocky!) with the answers you do know. I’ve learned that as Captain you don’t even need to know the answers to gauge someone’s competence, you can ask anything related to their job and note their reaction and (especially) the reactions of others around them.

I’ve used this trick on the drill floor often and in assessing new medics, 3rd party contractors, and many book smart 3rd mates. Ask enough basic questions and you’ll get a feel for someone regardless of the answers they give you.

Thank you all for the great advice. I purchased a NorthFace base camp duffel, so I think that should be enough with a backpack. Do the Third Officers do a lot of celestial? I feel like a cadet again.

It depends on the Captain. At the lest, expect to do a daily azimuth, amplitude and LAN.

Don’t forget dental floss. Seriously, I went to Antarctica recently and it was the ONE thing I forgot. I honestly had enough stuff to hike to the south pole solo… TWICE. Since I am a native Floridian I kind of overpacked for the Antarctic Winter. Good luck on your first job!

-When you have chow relief from 1700-1730 take a few minutes and calculate sunset the old fashioned way with the almanac. When the Navigator comes back from dinner you will look like an all-star. Don’t be lazy and just get the sunset time off the GPS.
-Read your log at least 3 times before commiting it, cut-and-paste has made many new 3/Ms look foolish.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you are still a cadet. A brand new third mate is a babe in the woods. I’d certainly be up on celestial, some captains require it. I always appreciated a third mate that took the initiative to shoot a sun line and do LAN. Any idiot can write down lat and long from a gps. Also, be up on how to operate the Ecdis and radar ( arpa). Learn how to change the status in the AIS. Know your bridge equipment! There is much more to standing watch than " standing " there with the AB. Also with Msc you are going to deal with the USN. This is a job in itself. Unless you did cadet time on an Msc ship there is another language you need to learn to be of any use on the bridge. Pim, move rep, unitsitrep etc are just a few. Also, you may need to maneuver the ship in company with the USN. Not done as much these days, but most certainly you will set the ship in position for unrep. The captain enjoys a watch officer that can get things ready so he does not have to come up and do the basics for you. You have a lot to learn, hit the ground running.

True, Captains may also ask a question to a question they don’t have an answer to. I once when departing port blew an extra long blast when passing another moored Msc ship. I asked the watch officers on the bridge why I did that. I got all sorts of interesting answers like " uh, international rules for being within one mile of the breakwater" and other delightfull insights without merritt. I then explained that I simply knew the captain was hung over from the night before and I wanted to wake him up and nothing more. I got a lot of odd answers from watch officers trying desperately to impress me. None said " I don’t know captain". I would have respected someone that simply said they didn’t know.

Very good point! If you do use gps to get time of sunrise / sunset… Guess what… That’s sunset where you are now, not where you will be when the sun actually sets. I’ve been amazed at how many times I’d ask a third mate when sunset was and they simply walk to the gps and push a button. This does not mean you always need to use the almanac. Use a nav program ( iPad has some great celestial programs), use a nav calculator, but don’t go push a button on gps at noon and proudly tell the captain when sunset is going to occur. ( think you may move between noon and 1800? )

Good thing I was a navigator for 90 days aboard my training ship last summer. Things are still fresh and I know how to work all bridge equipment (from a training ship that is over 50 years old with ancient equipment XD ). I do not need to bring my case of plotting equipment, correct?

And has anyone done Surface Rescue Swimmer? I want to apply, but I’m afraid that I won’t match up with all the men who think they are Michael phelps. I’m a strong swimmer and strong athlete and I understand that it puts more money in your pocket. But it also puts more time on if you want relief from a ship. I just want to know if it’s worth it. I’d really like to apply.

And I took a lot of advice and bought the extra wrist watches, searched my piles of college notes for my celestial notes from license, and trying to pack lighter. (I am at least a woman and we pack so much for no reason, I can understand it). I start packing and the next minute I look down and my duffel is halfway full of nothing. I told myself that I need something and it’s not essential for now, I can always buy it in port or at the NEX. Correct?