Starting over with a 100 Master & 200 Mates & AB. What would you do?

I’m looking to get into a different industry. I have a west coast commercial fishing background and have a 100 Master, 200 Mate, AB Unlimited. I have never needed/used these except to get slightly better insurance rates for my fish boats. I have a college degree and will not be going to an academy.

I’ll be starting at the bottom anywhere I go. I’m curious to hear opinions on what you would do if you were in my shoes.

There are a lot of crewboat/mini supply boat companies in the gulf hiring 100 t/200t deck officers. Some non-dp too. Downside of that is, not sure what kind of longevity you would get going that route.

ABs are in high demand right now. You didn’t mention if you have all the stcw stuff to go with it. If you do, you could do tugs, osvs or ships depending on how long you want to be gone and what your ultimate goal is. Most tug companies don’t require the stcw endorsements because they are under 200 grt.

Plenty of tug companies on the west coast. Get an AB spot then work on getting your mate of tow. Plenty of threads on here about the various paths. May be good to sail as an AB, upgrade your deck license then have a quicker path to the wheelhouse. Lots of options out there these days, but if i was you i would avoid the 100 ton boats and use your AB somewhere because that will open more doors down the road and provide longevity for your career.


I’d second that. Get an AB job on a tug and work towards getting your TOAR. AB pay is pretty good these days and no shortage of opportunities. Sky is really the limit from there…

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Thank you for the reply. I have signed up for an STCW course.
Your gulf boat tip is something that was not on my radar. But like you mentioned- I am leaning towards a path using the AB and upgrading.
Tugs seems to be the way. I know a couple people that enjoy being on OSV’s so just doing some looking before I leap. Anything else I should consider?

Thanks for the input fellow fish picker!

Lol, the good old days. Man, do I miss fishing sometimes…sometimes. Someone else said it better but getting your TOAR and time on tugs is such a great insurance policy. Having that in your back pocket and then going to explore the Gulf seems to make sense. When things slow down, you’ll always have that to fall back on as opposed to trying to go from Gulf to Tugs. Regardless of what you decide, its a great time to get into the industry…

If I were starting over, I’d go to nursing school, or another medical trade like respiratory therapy.

I hear ya! Fished my whole life. High highs and low lows. But my hands and lower back feel similarly about both scenarios. A bit curious about alternatives to being the skipper, engineer, shipwright combo. Almost all of the fisherman I know who switched it up go tugging…

Fair enough! Probably a smart move. But I’m not that smart. Barely survived college the first time :slight_smile:

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What do you want do you? What are your goals? Good thing about OSVs, you’ll be getting bigger tonnage if you decide you want to go for a bigger license. Depending on the OSV, could be tonnage towards an unlimited license.

Generally OSVs are more comfortable. Depending on the tug company, a lot of the boats are older and not as comfortable. Since you are coming from fishing, comfort may not be that big of a deal to you.

Tugs are the most obvious choice, but not the best st the moment. To move up fast for a license on tugs you need at least a 500 ton license.

OSVs and Factory Trawlers are probably the best places to get higher tonnage seatime. You’ll need the STCW for OSVs.

In the current job market, you might walk right in to an AB job on a Great Lakes ship. No STCW required.

Once you have STCW Able Seafarer- Deck, you should talk to the SUP (Sailors Union of the Pacific ) and the SIU and consider shipping out deep sea.

Another year of big tonnage seatime would probably get you to Third Mate Unlimited.

If you sail deep sea, it won’t take you too long to get Mate 500. With 30 days of tug time and TOAR you get Mate of Towing. Then sailing mate on a tug would be a good choice.

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I do appreciate the radical tug/barge handling in tight quarters I’ve witnessed in Southeast, AK- specifically Ketchikan (hats off to you skippers if you read this). So that’s a consideration- including pros/cons.

I can rough it, but comfort is a factor. Having operated from 29’ to 100’, the difference is night and day. Which makes larger vessels in the long term, attractive- even if it is a slower process.

Is there a definitive thread or source for tonnage x time = licensing? It is still abstract to me. Wondering if there is a resource to demystify it. Thanks again for your replies.

Thank you for the reply. Do the STCW’s you refer to fall within the week long course I see advertised or is there some more definitive name for what I need to be getting?

You need to get STCW Able Seafarer - Deck. I’m not sure off the top off my head what the STCW code is for Able Seafarer - Deck

You’ll need at least the week long Basic Training Course. Perhaps more.

I’m not sure what is required now for RFPNW. You’ll have take a one day course for VPDSD (vessel security).

One of the better schools, like Crawford or MPT , or a union can tell you what you need. Or you can dissect the checklists on the USCG NMC website.

You would not need anything more than what you have to work on the Coastal Transportation Freighters because they are technically considered fishing vessels. However, they’ve are only 499 tons.

The Great Lakes is exempt from STCW, but GL seatime counts toward STCW and Oceans licenses.

Vessels under 200 GRT are generally exempt from STCW.

AB Unlimited is a good rating to have that will open a lot of doors.

Any STCW courses that you might need to take for Able Seafarer, you’ll also need to get 500 ton Mate with the corresponding STCW.

If you value your time and want to be efficient, MITAGS unlimited license apprenticeship program. Go big or go home.

Which one?

Assessments. See NVIC 06-14

Generally, if someone says they “have STCW” or took an “STCW course”, it’s Basic Training only.

I’m aware of that. I was trying to encourage him to read the curse description for himself so he’ll see that.

Just looked at the description, and they do not specify. It is a 5 day course.