Older fool looking to go to sea

Wow all these rigorous personality tests and studies going on!

Now, back to my book about gaining self-confidence through neuro linguistic programming.


To be fair, I’m not saying our personality analyst is wrong…

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Well, you should know

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Deckhands starting out where I work are making 300, almost 400 with an AB, working out of Staten Island. Honestly not a hard job, theres deckhands from 18-70. Tugs arent a bad route if you wanted to stay somewhat local, equal time schedule.

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I just reread your first post and realized you’re NYC based. There’s plenty of people in the area hiring. Weeks, Miller Launch, McAllister, heck even NYC Ferry, Statue Cruises, the ferries to NJ, or the local diner boats. If you can wait out the civil service process there’s also Staten Island Ferry and the Dept of Sanitation ships, and Army Corps of Engineers. Like any industry some of those companies are better then others, some I wouldn’t even recommend, other then as a place to get your feet wet. Pretty much any of those options will get your foot in the door so you can understand what you’re dealing with and where you want to go, some don’t even require MMC. I work in NYC, feel free to message me for more info.


Those are rather poor AB wages: $300 to $400 for a high cost city in 2023.

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At 68 just passed orals and received 150 ton masters. Allows for 500 ton sheltered and inland. Never gonna use it but the mind exercise is useful. Go for it !..did cost several thousand though…

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Thanks for your responses. Someone mentioned above it takes about a year to get your AB on a tug. This sounds a lot faster than the unlimited rout with SIU requiring 1080 days. Do you know why that is? Is it hard to find jobs in tugs with an OS/Wiper rating?

A good idea, I very well might hit you up.

If you really wish to work in this industry, I would suggest you start by getting your MMC. If you haven’t visited the USCG NMC website do so. To get an entry level MMC you’ll need to get your TWIC, Physical (form 719K), DOT Drug Test, fill out and submit an application (form 719B).

It is all here: Merchant Mariner Credential NMC

AB Special requires 360 days.
AB Limited requires 540 days.
AB Unlimited requires 1080 days.

Time on tugs and OSVs will almost certainly be 12 hour days and thus count at 1.5:1 so you accrue time faster.

You do not need AB Unlimited to work deep sea ships.

It’s generally easier to find OS work on tugs than on ships. Very few ships have OS billets.

I already applied for the TWIC AND was admitted to Piney Point. Just not sure if it is a good idea to devote a year to a job I’ve never really had a taste of. Then again their program is a good deal, makes it much easier to get an AB with deep sea in a shorter amount of time.

Only YOU can decide that, but I’d set yourself up to be more employable by getting your MMC. It’s such a low cost and it demonstrates that you have some gumption to fill out some paperwork and you can figure things out on your own. You’re also a substitute teacher so you have time and flexibility. Walk down to hornblower and get a job. See what it’s like to work on the water and go from there. What you’re really getting at are the barriers to entry in this industry, and lucky for you, there are virtually none. Piney Point isn’t going anywhere and working locally in NYC for a little bit will give someone with no experience some realistic expectations and will not set you back one bit. When I was starting out I did any and everything I could to accumulate seatime towards an AB, ferries, dinner cruises, fishing, etc. It is easy to do and you can get time quickly doing a variety of work. Those experiences taught a me a lot, mainly that i had no interest in being gone for more than a few weeks at a time. But you won’t know until you try it… You can do it all in your own if you do some research and keep the end goal in focus.

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Interesting. So, I’m assuming the time accrued getting an AB special is not going to help you with an AB unlimited, or no? If you wanted to work on ships of unlimited tunnage, you’d have to start all over getting that time?


No. People that work on unlimited ships also get AB Special as their first AB rating.

Really…so you could start on a schooner, go to a tug, then go to a ferry, and all this time would count toward an AB unlimited?

Yes. Also, any of that time on vessels over 100 GRT counts towards 3rd mate Unlimited.

If it were me from experience, I sure the heck would not put a college degree on my resume. You’re better off putting a DWI. I went back in my late 40’s after 22 years ashore. I just needed a little time to upgrade, and I did, but most of the unlicensed mopes would love to needle a college-boy doing manual labor. BOL, BTW, it can be done!

You can get jobs on small tugs and other small vessels with absolutely no documents at all. None.

As a practical matter as @Chief_Seadog said: go get your USCG physical (from any doctor, but you may find it advantageous to use Concentra, because many boat companies do), and

apply for your MMC with the endorsements OS, Wiper ands Foodhandler.

Also apply for your TWIC card. You must have a TWIC, or at least a TWIC application pending, to apply for an MMC. TWIC includes TSA Pre-Check.

You need 180 days of seatime (only 120 - 12 hour days) to get AB OSV and AB Fishing. Technically, AB OSV is only valid on OSVs, but a lot of tug companies don’t seem to know that. Many just don’t care and are willing to risk a fine in order to keep their boats crewed and working.

Once you have AB OSV, you’ll never need to take another exam to upgrade all the way to AB Unlimited.

To clarify, this is only applicable on tugs and OSVs and isn’t a blanket rule about 12 hour days.