Too old to become a mariner?

Too old to become a mariner? I am 51 years old and pretty much way out of shape. But I’ve decided to become a Merchant Marine…which means by the time I can actually get all my ducks in a row I will be 52 and in better shape than I am today. One of my daughters is all for it - my other daughter thinks I’m a lunatic. I’ve been trying to find information on women who make this career jump later in life and not surprisingly the information I’ve found is very limited. What are your thoughts on older women (did I mention I’m female?) changing course so late in life?

I think that if you want to do it, do it. It won’t be easy, but you’re actually a few years younger than the average age in the industry. Go for it!

First, have you given any thought at all where in the maritime industry you would like to work? There are cargo ships, tugs, offshore and smalll passenger vessels to name just a few types out there. Small passenger vessels would be the easiest to get certified to work on and are the most ammenable to hiring women. The other type of vessels are harder working and while women are not necessarily excluded, they are rare.

Being out of shape is not a hurdle if you are willing to work on reversing that byu exercising. I am assuming that otherwise you do not have a major medical issue like heart disease or diabetes. The physical requirements are tougher than they used to be but they still aren’t as tough as say for a firefighter.

That leads to certification. Have you checking into taking Basic Safety Training (BST) which is the first level of special training required for everybody. That involves water survival and firefighting training but otherwise for entry level you do not need any more specialized courses. All you need is a physical, drug screen, background check, TWIC and BST certificate and you would be good to go.

I would recommend to pursue the small passenger vessel track. Which part of the country do you live?

I say to go for it, but anyway, best of luck in your quest.

1 Like

I agree with c.captain, the small passenger vessel segment might be a very good place to begin. Have a look at Linblad Expeditions and Cruise West. These companies offer seasonal employment that might be a good way to get your feet wet. If you’re looking toward tugboats, that’s a tougher nut to crack. But have a look here for good info.

Best of luck to you!

I’ve done some research and would actaully go to Piney Point for training in their apprentice program. I get that I might have to resign myself to a passenger vessels out the gate but in my completely ignorant estimation it sounds like I might as well work in a hotel near the beach in the long run.

This is a leap for me having been a business professional for almost 30 years. Still I did once get accepted to Helicopter School and in the end couldn’t make the tuition. So I’ve longed for an adventure…is this it?

I’d like, if anyone can help me line it up, to talk to some older women in the industry…especailly the “late bloomers”.

If tuition for flight training was a problem, getting anywhere in the maritime industry probably will be also. Very expensive and time consuming since 2002.

Hi- welcome:)

I think Piney Point may be your best option- if you are worried about the cost.

Free training- and you come out with a guaranteed job- and either an AB, QMED, or whatever certification the galley people get… Piney Point is a nice place- gym, basketball courts, and beautiful grounds…:slight_smile:

Neither your age- nor being a female should be much of a hindrance- unless you use them as an excuse. With companies seeking diversity- you may actually be at an ADVANTAGE.

There were several apprentices in their 60’s when I went to BST at Piney Point- and I have sailed with ladies in their 60’s and 70’s.

Is it an adventure- yes!

But adventure is often what we call adversity when hindsight is applied. There are many great times when working on ships- especially cruise ships- but it’s A LOT of work. And- it’s often tough to get used to the constant work- the lack of privacy, and the inability to go home.

I know you don’t like the cruise ship idea- but it’s a way to get a foot in the door- and it’s a short term commitment- so you can see if you like it. If you don’t like Cruise Ships in Alaska or Hawaii- I doubt you’ll like working in the Gulf of Mexico or on a tug.

Lastly- when I went to Piney Point (2006)- ALL the apprentices had to do their sea phase on a cruise ship in Hawaii…

Good luck:)

Im 54 years old and just finished my 3rd 28 day hitch. I ran and exerzied 3-5 days/ week for three years before heading to the GOM for a boat job. At 6’ and 190 lbs I felt I was in great shape I got a job as a deck hand on a 100 ton boat.

It kicked my ass!

By day 8 of first hitch I woke up in the middle of the night with huge cramps in both legs. Yes, I was drinking a gallon of wate a day and eating lots of bananas.

If youre not in good shape dont kid yourself. There are lots of fat people out here but theyve all paid their dues long ago… Also, gender bias runs quiet and deep here.

You can do anything you want… if you want to bad enough!

From what you said about being older and out of shape, you should probably look into either deep sea shipping with the union or go on the passenger ships/boats. I would think that the tugs are probably going to be too much physically. Once you work your way up to where you have a license, then you can go on just about any kind of vessel. Another thing to look into is dynamic positioning officer (DPO). You can get started in that really quickly. I am pretty sure you can take that class without ever having been onboard a ship before in your life and people will actually hire you!

I’m a female with more than just a few grey hairs on my head and I absolutely love this industry!
Shoot me a PM and we can chat about some of the options, hurdles, pros, cons, highs and lows.

I have worked with several ladies on boats I have had good trips and bad the good trips the ladies left there make up at home and were there to work others were there to sleep and play
One lady Nic was great sailed twice with her on two dif vessels great lady she carried her weight and didn’t want you help unless it was some thing that if a guy was doing it you would offer to help him hope to get in touch with her again she is welcome on my boat any time and she went on to get eng lic so was her plan
Well good luck and not to be stereo typical cook onboard is a great place to start if you can cook good guys will over look other short comings