Must you work a 12 month schedule with no gaps, also job openings these days?

Hi Guys and Gals,

This is my first post, so please don’t beat me up too badly. :smiley:

I have been reading here a lot over the past year, I think I picked the right category for my questions? Here is a little about us.

My husband is looking to enter the maritime world. He/we are most definitely not newbies to boats and boat life. We have a 45’ sailboat, many others before it for both of us. Around boats that size he probably has 200+ days sea time. Not certain that can count or not?

We live aboard her most of the time and cruise 2-3 months a year on her. His background is in custom home construction and restoring boats (cars too) since he was a kid. He bought and restored his first non running powerboat at 12 years old. These days he is basically an independent shipwright for the past 4 or 5 years: mechanic, systems, rigging, woodwork, painting, hull fairing etc., with a of couple big engine repowers under his belt.

He is an excellent helmsman, and I am pretty opinionated and a decent sailor myself (singlehanded and double) so that’s saying something, lol. He is very smart, quick to learn and find mistakes, excellent in operating, maneuvering and navigation. He would make a great professional captain one day if he wanted the responsibility.

He is about to apply for his TWIC and MMC. We are in Northern California. A tug captain we met at a boat yard, we were hauled out doing our own work, that saw how well he diagnosed and fixed our engine issues and his overall kick ass boat restoration and work ethic said he would be a great deck engineer at his tug company and said to get his TWIC and apply. We said he would in a few months. We left him our digits but never heard from him, maybe he lost the piece of paper, idk?

We keep reading on here that jobs are drying up. Still true? Does he really need to go to the engine room to find work? Or can he head for the deck? With what you have heard, what might be a first time position for him? What might that first year look like? Pay? He will go where the jobs are but California would be best, after all we can move our home practically next door to any port.

Lastly, we don’t have kids and I can handle him gone weeks at a time. I was hoping with this career we could commuter cruise. In the sailing community that means work 3-6 months, then fly down to your boat and cruise it for 3-6 months.
Is this possible? Or would he be bound to working 28 on/off 14/7 with no gaps for 12 months?

Thanks for reading all my blabbing.

Cheers guys!

Welcome! I would suggest emailing the National Maritime to clarify the sea time question, but I don’t think that boat is big enough for sea time towards an AB or QMED. Here’s the page with the contact info-
Just my opinion, but once he has his credentials, companies/contacts will take him more seriously. Apply everywhere. Once he gets his foot in the door, he will be getting sea time towards his Able Seaman, and also learning about different companies and their schedules. I would suggest he be willing to take whatever he can get at first. The important thing is to get that sea time! I don’t know about jobs in California. I suppose he could look for companies going in and out of the ports like San Francisco etc., but a lot of people in this industry commute to work. One of the great things (for many of us) about our jobs is we can live or go pretty much where we want on our off time. One guy I work with lives in the Dominican Republic. I’ve worked with 2 guys who were living in Baja. Good luck!

Thank you CookingatSea! Appreciate the link and advice. I have read links here saying they heard of some seatime on personal vessels being accepted even of this size but I haven’t read of someone personally on here saying it worked for them. Maybe I have not searched hard enough?

Yes, friends like yours spending their off time in those locations is just what we’re talking about. Money is not the top priority here, a balanced lifestyle enabling us to live outside the US on off time (possibly me most of the year) and to prevent burnout is the top priority, for me especially where there is cheaper healthcare/treatments.

Those examples, are you saying they do, or can, work, for example, Jan-April, then go to wherever for May-July, then back again? Or more like they work 28 then fly there for 28 days (okay 26 more like) then fly back?

Every company will have different schedules. There are a couple tug outfits in Alaska that work one long rotation March to October ish. Or they used to… Alaska Logistics and I think AML. Then sometimes a company will say 45 on 45 off but once he is there awhile your husband might be able to arrange something with his relief. As I said before, even if the schedule isn’t to your liking, its going to be easier to have job options once he has his AB. Until then I encourage you guys to be uncomfortable for a little while and get his sea time requirements done wherever he can

You should know, even after he gets his AB, that’s just showing that he’s serious. He’s still, most likely, gonna have to work as a deckhand at first.

Yes, I hope the original poster understands, I was just saying having an AB makes you a more attractive hire than being an ordinary. If you have an AB more doors are likely to open to companies who only hire AB’s for the deck, This is why I was suggesting take any job to start.

I will be the jerk here. I am not convinced that being an excellent sailboat captain or yachtsman translates over to the commercial side evenly. I think your your husband will have to start at square one and work his way up earning respect as he goes. I have no experience in the party or charter boat business so I don’t know how that goes. Best of luck


Lots of great responses thank you!
“Asshole” or jerk feedback…sorry I can’t see the responses while making mine, but hey no problem man we would rather here the reality than the fluff so please do share it! :slight_smile:

Yes, we know he may need to take whatever jobs to gain his AB. Everybody has to pay their dues, no matter their skill set or level. With his experience and aptitude should he move up quickly? and what does that even mean these days?
I like to think so but we also know that’s not always how it works. I bet he will be a stellar Cheif Engineer some day but we know that is many years ahead. But like I have alluded, we/he (in case you can’t tell we believe in partnership) want whats a balanced work/life.

We have already attained the big career, nice cars, real estate and turned a different corner. It is for many but not for all. We are looking for a career that will sustain my health needs/living abroad, in warm weather and affordable living, health care and treatments with an okay paycheck.

My suggestion. Work on your British or Australian accent and a backstory then look for work in the yachting community. The accent is key.

It will achieve all the things you mentioned and your skill set should translate well.


He can self-verify his small boat seatime on the proper USCG form and he can use it toward both a 100 ton Master’s License and AB. He probably has enough time to get AB OSV. He probably cannot use this smallboat seatime toward an engineer license.

You can find more info by searching the gcaptain forum and by googling USCG NMC.

I strongly urge him to hire a license consultant, google USCG license consultants, to help him prepare his application and shepard it through the process. It’s a long process, so he should start right away.

Emphasize extensive experience with steering and Rules of the Road, carpentry and engineering knowledge, skills and ability. Unless going for a sailing vessel job leave it at “small boat owner and operator ____ years” on your Resume.

No blue or brown water vessel hiring official will know or care anything about sail experience. “Few seamen are boatmen and few boatmen are seamen.”

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Your license consultant will help you properly fill out your application and the USCG small boat sea service forms with all the proper magic words. Keep it simple. Don’t confuse the non-mariners on the USCG staff that will review your application.

There are many possible schedules, including no schedule. There is a lot of seasonal work that might suit your husband’s needs. He might want to start out fishing or tending salmon in Alaska.

Thanks guys, you are so helpful!
Damn Yankee, yeah no thanks, to my knowledge no pensions/401k there and have had friends who’ve done. Good for young, singles in their exp.

Civmar - he has had powerboat, large and small (large up to 60’, albeit on a lake) powerboat experience, operating/navigating and ownership. We will focus on that verbiage, really appreciate it.

Tugsailor, well there’s some positive news on the seatime - nice, thanks! So just Google uscg license nmc consultant? Any idea what we should budget for that? Pardon for being a newb here but are you saying do not apply for the MMC and wait for a USCG License to then go job hunting? Or are you saying - go get your TWIC and MMC and while job hunting or working do your uscg licensing application?
Oh and Tugsailor, have any suggestions on where he should start looking for tug work here in Norcal or west coast? He has hoped to work on a tug.

If you search “license consultants” here on gcaptain you should find some. For google try “license consultant” USCG.

Andy Hammond, Jewel Marceau, Holly Chetta, Chuck Kaksuka, Paul McElroy, and a few others Have been mentioned on gcaptain. The fees typically range from $150 to $500. (504) 837-0183

Chuck: (734) 847-1723


Margret strozk-Hayes.

Norleen Schumer.

Oh. I think your husband should apply for his TWIC and talk to a consultant immediately. Based upon what you said, I think he can apply for his MMC with the endorsement AB (OSV).

He can work on a fishing boat or maybe a small tug under 99 tons without any credentials. There will be more opportunities and he is more likely to get hired with the MMC. Although AB (OSV) will not legally qualify him to sail AB on a tug, it will help him get hired and he’ll be able to upgrade to AB without the OSV restriction on seatime without any further exam.

Tugboat jobs are hard to find these days. He might want start by talking to local companies in person.

Thanks Tugsailor!!!
Man, if he could start out with his AB (OSV) that would be ideal. If you had to guess, from submission of TWIC and MMC when do you think he could start knocking on doors?
Also, what’s day pay range these days for deckhand, AB and OS?
Thanks again guys!

The NMC was very slow - several months -, but I hear it’s been much faster lately. For the first MMC, and the TWIC there is also an FBI check that can take two to six weeks. The license consultants that do this every day will know current timeframes.

No reason not to apply for the TWIC today and get the ball rolling.

If your license consultant thinks he has enough seatime for AB-OSV, then he should go take an AB course (which includes the USCG exam) and a STCW BT course. I suggest that it should include lifeboat, not just liferaft. That’s two - 5 day courses totaling about $1600.

He should start networking and knocking on doors now.

AMO has a program to “make engineers”. It’s worth a look

Engineers are born, not made. . . .


Again, many thanks, all the detail are really helpful!