New Potential Mariner With Some Questions About Ship Life

For unlicensed, are you usually doing tasks on your own? And then as a team for larger things (arriving in port, maybe?).

Do folks do a lot of chatting throughout the day, or pretty much isolated heads-down doing your job, going to the next?

Is there a mechanism for folks to text each other/call each other? Not traditional phones, but perhaps wifi ship-only intranet that phones could use for casual comms?

I know this probably all sounds like silly questions, just trying to get a feel for what day-to-day would be like. None of the youtube videos I’ve watched seem to get into enough details/depth to really give me a handle one what life would be like away from home.


Drink coffee, talk shit, complain about the office. With spurts of manual labor sprinkled throughout the day.


you forgot the comma between talk and shit :poop: :poop:


Every segment of the industry is going to be different so there is no simple response here. To your particular question: to communicate with each other aboard ship while on watch/daywork UHF handheld radios are the most common way.

Here is a video that may answer some of your questions about ship life in general, but keep in mind another company/maritime segment is going to be totally different. The pertinent part is at 1:20 to 2:54.

If you are interested in the entry- level engine room side this video segment (00:15 to 3:00) is a good intro to the life, but again keep in mind it is company specific, and other companies will be quite different:


Awesome, thanks for the info!

Most of the talk that comes from our mouths on the deck plates is shit, does that count? It all kind of overlaps…

This is the best, truest response.

Do you have any idea here do you plan to go?

Deep sea vs tugs vs ferry vs OSV…vs…(insert here)…
Each experience will vary wildly.
Can you be be away from home for 180 days? or only 30-60 days? Or not at all?

There are many, many variables. But also many options.

Do you have a friend or family member in the industry? They likely have better advice for your situation than this.

The issue we have here on the gCaptain forum is the weekly onslaught of folks who “wish to sail the seven seas”. They come here, after abandoning or leaving their last profession, with romantic thoughts of adventure and grandeur. Long gone. The amount of “I was a bank teller for 22 years and I need to travel, my uncles brother’s mothers cousin was a USMM, sounds right for me! Where do I sign up?!?!?” posts is nauseating.

There is a vast amount of information in this forum. Soak it up and digest it into some relevant questions once you decide your direction.

Best of luck.

Don’t be another of the folks I described above. Do it.


As far as the end goal, I am still doing research to figure out which environment would work best for me and my family (so not sure, ref deep sea, tugs, etc). For job satisfaction, life satisfaction, etc., I likely won’t know until I’m on the ship working, regardless of the research done.

No family in the industry. My dad was in the AF, I was in the Army, now working gov contracts for the AF. Nothing marine-related at all. I know. I HUGE leap and difference.

The intention is to make the move. I have my TWIC, the medical portion of my MMC application has been approved, but have no idea how long until the MMC is approved/rejected and received by me.

I have definitely been reading everything I can find about the industry and jobs! This site has been great, as has the subreddits and facebook pages.

Thanks for you insight, I really do appreciate it!

Ref Life Aboard as a Wiper, the person says he is a wiper and has been working for 4 years.
Does it take longer than 4 years to be promoted out of being a Wiper? Or is Wiper different that what I’ve seen on other youtube content where it is an entry level Engine department role (like OS for Deck)?

The person in the video has a QMED. But the video is about being a wiper. When making a 15 minute video aimed at entry level people you have to keep things simple, with as little jargon as possible. Hence he uses the term “wiper”, otherwise he’d have to decipher what a QMED is etc.

In reality the difference between wiper and QMED at this company is just pay. The QMED can make twice as much.

Like I said, it will be different at other companies/trades. Hope this helps.


It absolutely does help, thanks for the additional info. Twice is much is pretty nice :slight_smile:

Do you have a degree? Can you read?

What is your end goal…specifically: officer or unlicensed?