Need info from graybeards


better go back a decade…my first post here was in October 2008



What is you goal? To get a license and be an officer or to work on the water as unlicensed? This greatly changes what advice you will receive.

Do you have a college degree?

The US ARMY warrant officer program is great. Do consider it. If you want to go military for a few years and transition to the merchant marine, forget the coast guard or navy.

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Not a Graybeard by any means , but if your looking to make more money than your making now just starting out in the mariner environment , I have to second C capt’s statement . As a newbee your going to be cleaning toilets and working your ass off to prove your worth ( unless your one of the new breed of hires that want to sit around and watch BET

) for a cheaper wage than you will ever make where you are now . take some advise from people that are damn near broke from paying their own way as a hawse piper , and pick a real trade like one of the building trades . Bricklayers and cement finishers are always looking for apprentices , and start out at a good wage . And

they pay for all of your schooling , and tools , and even clothing at times .
Have done both for 20 yrs . Wouldn’t trade any of the experiences gained from each for nothing but , whish I had some of the $$ spent on staying compliant back , just to clean toilets .

I skimmed your novel, it’s too long to be a mere post. It was painful reading.

Seriously, you might want to look into starting out in yachting or commercial fishing. Lots of opportunities and much easier to get your foot in the door. You could learn some good skills, make some money, and the seatime counts towards a USCG license.

You might also want to look into becoming an electrician, EMT or nurse. Those are good paying trades and there is some crossover potential to maritime.

Agree with @ultspud. If anyone did a search of my posts regarding the SIU they would know my oldest son went through the program. They did not have “Phase 5” back then but immediately after his first job he went back to the school and took the FOWT course and upgraded. Pretty much what the school requires now. There were a few slow times but he has been sailing QMED for quite some time now and has his ‘A’ Book. It worked for him as college was not his thing.

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My goal is to be gainfully employed working in or on a giant hunk of metal, with a marketable amount of knowledge and experience to find work elsewhere in the event of unemployment. Hopefully I can fit into the maritime field, I like ships and other huge mechanical operations in general. I also like how maritime jobs are specific in their descriptions and the prospect of working in a smaller group of people for multiple months appeals to how I behave as a person.

I do not have a college degree. I have “some college” if you want me to back as specific as most job websites. I left because I didn’t like learning from people with no actual experience in working other than teaching. Plus I feel better with callouses on my hands. Paid off the debt I incurred working at my current job a year or 3 back, so now I’m pretty free to do what I want but a little apprehensive about taking on new debt. I was pretty complacent with this job until I learned they were gonna try and bend me over.

I’ll look into the US ARMY warrant officer program in about 9 hours when I’m off the clock.

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It wasn’t written to be pleasurable to read, it was written to get information. If that means I gotta put in cringey puns or agitate some of you with my ignorance just enough to get you to reply, so be it. I’ll look into both of those thanks.

My #3 grandson is in the army marine transportation. The progression in rank goes hand in hand with sea time and taking the the required USCG exams. He has over 4 years in, has Unlimited AB and Mate of towing. I assume it’s 200 ton. He’s stationed in Hawaii but back at Ft Eustis for his upgrade. Not a bad deal. His other grandfather ran pushboats and that’s all he wanted to do. He’s talking about doing 10 and 10 in the reserves. Several good options.

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If you’re unhappy because of the work you do, feel like you’re in a dead end job, unrewarded … you’ll probably feel the same no matter what you’re doing. The advisers here are good, most have been right where you are today and your situation is rather old news, listen up. SSG USA Ret. / CME NOAA Ret.

SIU is legit, but SUP is better, you can also try for the large trawlers in Seattle.


Get your documents and take an O/S job on the Great Lakes. No STCW required and we are usually hiring. If you want to go work in the engine room Interlake Steamship hires “rovers” which help the Conveyorman do maintenance. Take either job and you’ll get a good idea if you want to work in the engine room or out on deck. Go out and see what it’s like, put some money in the bank, and then you can decide to hawsepipe it or go to an Academy or go back shoreside. Deep Sea Hawsepiping with all the STCW classes is a major hurdle compared to spending 3.5-4 years at an Academy.

You mean Shellbacks. Not graybeards.

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Not unhappy because of the work I do, it’s pretty cool. Unhappy because the company I work for is trying to back me into a corner wage wise because I can’t go work for another company doing the same work because I signed a noncompete agreement.

Thanks I’ll give it a look when I’m off the clock.

Noted. I’ll remember it for the future.

That sounds of questionable legality.

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That sounds of questionable legality.

Its a common practice in many industries from your mom and pop canvas workshop to the big ole conglomerate. I had to sign one for said mom and pop marine canvas workshop - A condition of my employment was to not work for another canvas workshop in the state for 12 months.