Maritime Summer Job 2016

Hello, everyone!
My name is Josh and I am 17 (will be 18 next summer) and I thought it would be great to get a job in a maritime industry next summer. I have no experience in these industries and my research into the subject has returned mixed results, but I did learn it is often long hours and somewhat poor conditions, although I would make a little bit to save for college. It appears that Alaska has the most jobs, with my best bet working at an offshore salmon cannery. My question on here is does this job sound possible to do and what other jobs will be available next summer for someone such as myself, not just in Alaska, but anywhere?

Off the top of my head, there are many Maritime companies that would be glad to offer you an internship (both shoreside and vessel side), or you could work as a deckhand, or in a processing plant as you already mentioned. If I were you, I would make a list of companies/positions you would be interested in so that you can apply come Jan/Feb/March 2016. Even if companies do not post internships, you could always contact them directly and ask, that’s the approach I took (companies often appreciate this approach as you yourself sought them out).

Trident Seafoods among others are always looking for people to work 12 to 16 hour days during their peak season

Washington State, Oregon State, And California all have various maritime companies, be it shipping, shipyards, fishing, tug boats, charter boats (both pleasure and sport fishing)

I am in the Salmon fishing industry in Alaska ,specifically the Cook Inlet salmon & herring fishery.Unless you know somebody already in it ?? the best way is to search craigslist starting around january 1st ,most spots fill up fast !!!
They are going to ask about getting seasick,so have an honest anwser,C.I. can get rather snotty in july and you get beat up rather badly at times .no exactly safe all the time either

the floating fish factories are not the best places to be either,miserable conditions and you are treated like shit ,and getting paid is not always a guarantee either [you have to read the fine print],thats why there are thousands of lawyers that specialize in fishery cases,just look in the seattle phone book

If you are looking for summer work in Alaska you might try Coastal Transportation’s Summer Mariner program.
There is a certain amount written in these forums about CTI. Some of the information is accurate. Some is inaccurate or outdated. Some is just plain disinformation/flaming. If you write a letter to CTI explaining your interest in the Summer Mariner program you’ll be mailed information describing in detail what the company does and how they do it. The Good, the Bad, The Ugly. Including a 78-page graphic novel describing a single voyage from start to finish. The idea is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision, not to sell you on the job. We’re picky about who we hire. The pay for entry level people without maritime experience is $185/day. Transportation is paid for. You don’t need a MMC or TWIC card. The voyages are about 24-days long. You can see more about the company at

It is hard work physically and mentally, though different than what some "experts" have written in these forums. But what is true is that the work ethic is fierce. That being said, CTI hires only about 8-10 people a year, and most of these are only for the "summer rush" when the company tries to ensure their regular people get their all-important summer vacations, as scheduled. The Summer Mariner program brings in young people for two to three 24-day trips from May to September. Usually Maine Maritime Academy/1600-ton program students, or the college-age sons and daughters of regular crew members. Sometimes others are selected, such as yourself.

The program is not for the faint of heart, or the lazy. You need to be self-motivated. As part of the program, you'd go through training meant to turn you into a reasonable facsimile of a mariner. You'd spend about three weeks working and training in Seattle and on the Salish Sea before being placed on an Aleutian freighter. It's hard, rigorous training designed get you ready for a hard, rigorous job. In Seattle, Monday to Friday, you spend 8 hours/day as a beginning dockworker at $14/hour, picking up the fundamentals of cargo operation, as well as 3 to 4 hours/day on seamanship training: knot tying, ship's terminology, etc. (The training part of the day is paid at $11/hour). When possible they send you on weekend "boomerang trips": you go out on an outbound freighter on Friday afternoon, transferring at sea to an inbound freighter returning back to the Seattle dock on Sunday or Monday. The 2-day boomerang trips give you experience in cargo lashing and mooring-line operations. Those days are paid at $185/day. Evenings and some weekends are up to you. For the period of training you live on the training boat. You would be responsible for your own food during training, except during the the training voyage.

 The training usually includes a 9-day voyage on the Salish Sea on the company's 65' steel-hulled training boat [I]Curlew[/I], learning watchstanding, steering, maintenance, etc. As usual, hard work is involved. The voyage usually has a small-boat expedition associated with it. The [I]Curlew[/I] brings along an old-school lifeboat: oars and sails and some limited supplies. No GPS. They put the trainees in the lifeboat (with an experienced trainer). The lifeboat crew then has to pilot the lifeboat for 3 to 5 days from point X to point Z using old-school navigation skills. No engines. No support from the outside. 19th century stuff. Again, the company is toughening you, and turning you into a thorough seaman, not a one-trick pony.

I should stress that the company is very selective about who they hire. Frankly most people don't like the work and a lot of people are incapable of doing it, so the company has a vetting process to weed out people who would not do well, saving everyone, including yourself, a lot of trouble.  Before you're selected you have to go through psychological screening, criminal background check, reference check and drug testing. The training program costs the company real money. We don't want to start training you just to have you quit after a few days. The company has their pick of applicants. They're not going through all the effort for your benefit. They're do it to keep up the quality of people in the Fleet. If you work out well after one Aleutian trip they offer you another. If you don't work out well, or don't want to sail again,or you fail training, which can happen, they give you a plane ticket home. If you work out well one Summer you can sail the next, but without the training part. 

The address is:
Summer Mariner Program
Coastal Transportation Inc.
4025 13th Ave. W.
Seattle WA 98119

You’ll be sent a postcard or email saying they have received your application. If they’re interested in you they’ll contact you in January saying you’re being considered. The final decision is made in April.

By the way, if you’re researching maritime jobs in general a great resource is [I]Shipping Out as a Merchant Seaman[/I] by Capt. Jonathan Allen. You can get it at Amazon. Read it if you haven’t already. It will answer most of your general questions about the career and the entire industry. Good luck to you.

Coastal sounds like it’d be a good job for someone that doesn’t mind working. I put in some long hours up there, didn’t make much money but I learned a lot.

Some years ago, in Ballard, I had a cup of coffee with the C/M from one of Coastal’s ship. He had just gotten back from a trip and I was just getting ready to leave. He told me that on his trip the anchor windlass had failed with the anchor down and described to me how he’d recovered the anchor and chain using the cargo gear.

On my next trip, anchoring in Sand Point, we tweaked our anchor windlass and we couldn’t heave in the anchor. The captain wanted to buoy the chain off and cut it but I told him I could get the anchor and chain back and properly stowed without having to cut it. I told him the plan but I made it sound like it was my idea. The captain called the office and told them of our plan recover the anchor and chain but made it sound like it was his idea.

Anyway, we got the chain and anchor back without too much problem and got the windlass fixed the next time in Seattle. Last I checked that C/M was still working at Coastal, no longer C/M of course, don’t know if he still is.


I am very pleased to hear that Coastal Transportation is offering this excellent program for new Mariners. Very impressive.

That sounds like an absolutely terrific opportunity. I will definitely have to look more closely at this. It sounds worth it even if it wasn’t paid training.

the floating fish factories are not the best places to be either,miserable conditions and you are treated like shit ,and getting paid is not always a guarantee either [you have to read the fine print],thats why there are thousands of lawyers that specialize in fishery cases,just look in the seattle phone book[/QUOTE]

Are you saying that the processors are engaged in outright wage thief? My guess is that those lawyers in the phone book are mostly doing injury cases.

It’s been a while but my recollection is that the situation was that workers were getting paid but if they did not finish their contract they had the cost of transportation taken out of their pay.

I have worked on a factory trawler for the past 4 years off and on in the processing factory. We do a minimum 75 day contract and earn crew share. If the boat isn’t catching fish, your not getting paid. In my experience, you always catch fish, just might make for longer trips sometimes. A round trip flight from Dutch harbor to anchorage can run over 2000 dollars which is deducted from the employees pay who do not finish their contracts. I’ve seen probably 100 people quit the first trip and end up owing the company money. For the most part I loved the job. It’s dirty, smelly, physical, and breeds savages.

The big factory processors usually are full of migrant workers who have work visas most make enough money for the trip here and usually get off shift for enough time to explore the USA from what I have been told. Some outfits run some Shotty business practices a friend of mine worked on a popular old Seattle tender in Alaska for 90 days and it took the owner 6mo for him to settle up with him his owed wages.

There use to be a lot of problems with payment of crew shares, improper deductions etc. I have not heard much about it lately. The contracts are full of blatantly illegal and unfair provisions. Lawyers usually won’t take unpaid crew share or seamen’s wage cases, unless they can represent an entire crew against a solvent company.

Nonetheless, fishing can be very good money, but the guys certainly earn it.