Qustions and other inane ramblings

My story is thus:

For as long as I can remember, I passed from class to class, tech school to tech school, and eventually from job to job, never really satisfied with where I was going. This passed year, I moved from place to place, hating the fact that I never truly felt like I was home in any of them. I’ve spent the last two years working a security job I despise, and living in a middle of nowhere town I feel the same disdain for.

I however, recently had a breakthrough of sorts. At the urging of friends and family I took a vacation, and long story short ended up closing out a real dive of a bar in the company of a complete stranger with whom I had been chatting all night. He invited me to accompany him the following day on a fishing/yacht trip, and I have got to say that I’ve never had a better day in my entire life. I felt really and truly at home behind the helm of that monster he called a yacht… and it really got me thinking about the possibility of a career on the water.

This is where, hopefully, you guys can help. I have no idea where to start. Can anyone recommend possibly a heading, a school, or anything else that might help? I’m eager to learn, and don’t mind travel of any kind. I just hope that you guys as a collective community can help me more than my searches on the internet have.

Thanks in advance.

YoungGun - First of all you will have to take a STCW (BST-Basic Safety Training) course. This covers: basic firefighting, firstaid, personal survival techniques, pssr (layman terms-boat etiquette & safety). After completion of BST, you will need to apply for a MMD (Merchant Mariners Document (Z-Card). There are several schools around the US to take the BST class. Or depending on your age, another option is to look at an Academy (Federal or State). The first method I talked about is what is known as the hawsepipe method. Meaning you come up from the bottom. going with an Academy, you will not only learn about the maritime industry, but you will also come away with a 4 yr degree. This forum is very useful, as there are many well versed members on here that can help “put” you in the right direction. I spent 15 years working in an office and I opted for a career change. Something I do not regret at all. Nothing like being on the water. Even though I am in the wheel house (Office) I have a wonderful view of the water and sunrises/sunsets. Do not hesitate to ask ANY questions on this forum. You will get an answer relatively quickly.


YoungGun - There are many different options for you if you want to work on the water. I am not a big believer for paying for classes out of pocket. There are many companies that will cover the cost of training. You can go the small boat route i.e. 100 tons or less where no MMD or STCW is required (although it is recommended to get an MMD at the very least). You can go yachts. Fort Lauderdale has plenty of crewing services down there to choose from or you can just show up down there around September to try and hustle up some work on the docks. OSV’s , dive boats, Tugs. If you choose to come into the Gulf I would suggest going on a small boat under 100 tons with a company that has larger vessels. This way you have a route to elevate yourself off the smaller boats if you so choose. You can also start as a roustabout on an oil rig and work your way up from there. What are you interested in specifically?

Thanks for the replies guys. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what I’m interested in. I think I could do well in an occupation where I’m able to see many different places. Something international, some form of cargo or personnel transportation. I’ve been thinking about attending an academy, but as I’m 22, living paycheck to paycheck, and not exactly financially stable, I question if this is the method for me. Is there a school where while your training your also earning an income, something akin to Job Corps? I really like the idea of having a 4-year degree… however, there is no way I can escape needing an income. Also, am I too old for an academy? I know I’m still relatively young, but it might still be an issue.

Unless you have military service I think you are either too old or only 1 year from being too old for the service academies. I don’t think that non-military maritime schools really care that much how old you are, but unlike the military ones, they don’t pay you while you go to school

Maybe working inshore on the rivers would be a good start. An excellent site that describes working on river push boats, schedule, what a deckhands day is like, etc. is posted on:

The guy that runs this site also lists most of the river boat companies, contact information and company websites.

Working on the River might make for an enjoyable summer for a young man and you might discover if working two weeks on in close quarters is something you are capable of.

Try Pacific Maritime Academy or PMI. I think they still have a workboat program. I don’t know too much about it other than it is a 2 year program and you have to pay for it. The good part is you are placed with a “sponsor” company to work while attending. Check them out on the internet. Also, I think the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY is a four year school that has programs that will cover your tuition/expenses in exchange for some sort of service obligation afterward. Again, I’m not too familiar with their programs but if you contact the school I’m sure you can get all the information you need. Good Luck.

Give PMI a call, though I think that the next couple of classes are already booked. That being said, there is always the chance that some one will drop out. MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE TUITION REIMBURSEMENT DEAL IN WRITING WITH SIGNATURES. I just finished the program and will be looking for work as soon as I pass my exams…some time in mid-May…I hope!

PMI is a great option- with some really talented teachers.
Mr Trunnell at PMI told me the May class was almost full- a month ago. Have you considered Mitags? 2 year program (same as PMI) where you alternate work (tug or OSV) and school. MITAGS is located outside Baltimore Maryland.

A great way to get your mate’s license fast.

Usually you’ll work as a combo deckhand/cook. The only downside is cost-it’s over $20k. They have lots of payment plans- but you need about $4k upfront. You also have to pay for housing and food while onshore. You are paid while working- but initial cadet pay for the first sea phase or two is only $30 day.

If you are interested- PMI website- mates.org
workboat academy website- workboatacademy.com

PMI director Gregg Trunnell- gtrunnell@mates.org

Mitags- Mitags.org
Victor Tufts at Mitags- vtufts@mitags.org


Hi Anthony,
Ideally you sail as a cadet. This doesn’t take away a paying billet from regular crew and you spend more time actually working on your TRB tasks. Our group started out with the understanding that we were getting the cadet wage of 850/month. For a number of reasons this evolved into a better paying situation - but still as a cadet/extra billet. That being said, I did a fair bit of deck maintenance, and helped out with the sanitary when the AB’s wanted or needed a hand.
I sailed with different crews and different boats each sea phase - some times multiple boats & crews. It was a challenge to establish the “program” with each new crew that I sailed with. The company that I was sailing with really isn’t that proactive in educating their mariners about the PMI program, it’s potential benefits to the company, and the arrangement that the company, PMI, and the cadet have to each other. As such, I had some really productive sea phases, and some that were a struggle to get anything done.
The MITAGS program is the natural extension of the PMI program as they are affiliated schools, with both operating on the School Phase/Sea Phase rotation. I think that it is a very good program, and like much in life, is a situation where you will get out of it what you put into it.
Hopefully this is useful info and not just me blathering away!
All the best,
Dave Russell
Whitefish, MT