From your credential list you’ll be coming out as an ordinary or able seaman initially, but you didn’t say what your aspirations are. If you want to work your way up as a deck officer you have more interesting options. If you decided to work toward an engineer license you would come out on OSVs primarily. But I’ll assume you want to continue on deck.
Crewboats, technical subchapter T, small passenger vessels, offer rapid advancement for you. You will have to test for Near Coastal Master 100T, but you can do so in only 60 days. Technically it’s 90 days, but working 12 hours shifts on oilfield boats you get 1.5 days for each day you work, so it accumulates quicker.
Crewboats are loads of fun. They are massively overpowered, relatively fast and very maneuverable. The people you will work with on crewboats have strong scoundrel dendencies however. You’ll see a lot of drug and alcohol rule breaking on them too. They are not particularly comfortable boats in poor weather, but in good weather they are fine. From a career standpoint you’ll learn a lot of good stuff. Boat handling is very important in our business, and crewboats offer a lot of wheel time and good experience. After a year or so you can upgrade to 500T Master and move up to bigger boats if you like. You will almost certainly be stuck working 2 for 1 schedules on crewboats.
Utility boats are not as sexy and not nearly as much fun, but they offer good boat handling experience too. They are generally powered at or below what they need and the smaller the boat the less power you’ll have to work with. So it’s good good training in boat handling, more comfortable ride, the accomodations depend on the age of the boat. The new “mini-suppliers,” really just oversized utility boats, have some nice cabin appointments.
OSVs offer nicer rides and bigger accomodation spaces, but more actual work, depending on the company and the condition of the boat. The guys on OSVs are more professional than on the smaller boats, have bigger licenses, more at stake, etc, so they tend to be a little more careful. But there are still plenty of people drinking and smoking on OSVs.
Personally I prefer the crewboat captain as training grounds for bigger boats, but there are lots of people who say big steel boats are too different from crewboats. In reality, the physics are exactly the same, but the big boats do have some additional toys (bank suction, squat, etc) to deal with.
While it’s good advice to bring your own bedding and such, I’m not sure it will go far in making an impression on the crew. But it’s good for you to do so for your own benefit. I’d say bring some good gloves, good sunglasses, and a decent pair of safety glasses. Also bring some reading material or whatever you like to keep busy. Leave the electronic toys at home…
I’d browse some web sites and read up on the boats and try and decide what direction you might like. If you’re not sure try to get on with a big outfit that has a variety, Seacor or Edison Cheoust, and Rigdon/Gulfmark are the only three I would recommend in that catagory, but Seacor and Rigdon are probably still hiring.
I started on crewboats and it was loads of fun. I upgraded to OSVs two years ago to get away from the riff raff and I’ve been happy with that move, though I do miss the boats themselves. I got promoted to captain here a year ago, but that was quicker than you should expect to move up on OSVs.
In general I’d say bring the little things that will make you comfy and safe, and do offer any super strong opinions to the folks you will work with. I never met an illiterate person until I came to south Louisiana, so it was a shocker. There are plenty of very good folks out here, but you may be initially surprised when you get here. Just take it easy and give it some time; the people here are like everyone else, but the state has some major broken pieces (roads, schools, and this was also the first place I ever came where they said don’t drink the water).
If you decide you want to work on an OSV for lift boat give us a call at Aries Marine. It’s a great outfit. I’m not sure if we’re hiring this minute, but we do periodically hire deck personnel. (and if you don’t smoke I can give you the name of our boat)
And I also give this advice. Don’t go to coast guard approved license schools to get your 100T master or 500T mate, whatever you go for. Study and go to the Coast guard and take their exams. It’s good practice for moving up later when you will have no choice but to exam at the REC
Hope some of this is helpful. Good luck.