Washington state ferries

It could be that your company sucks at recruiting new mates. I’ve seen some HR departments that had an uncanny knack for hiring the worst possible recruits.

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Nah, the quality coming out of the schools is on the decline. Large reputable company that’s always hired pretty top notch talent. Many companies are being back their unlicensed to licensed program. We’re not the only ones having problems finding good new mates.

I’ve been working for WSF for ~20 years after ~10 years offshore (mostly tankers). The hiring process is what it is. WSF hires Ordinary Seamen (no matter what license you hold) to fill in for the ~ 600 deck department employees it takes to keep the boats running on a daily basis, that is the need of the organization. I’m a Captain, it took longer than I thought it would to advance but I don’t think the world owes me a living and am thankful for what I have. I chose to come to WSF after my first child was born and had to use savings to make up for the gap in income while I was an on-call ordinary, but I knew that going in. In my case there was a contraction in service that stalled my career but there are no guarantees in life and I felt blessed that I could go to sea with my lunchbox and come home for dinner at the end of the day. If a person is motivated and diligent about getting the necessary pilotage, advancement will be better now than it was for me. If a person is not humble enough to work in an unlicensed capacity and learn the organization from the bottom up then please apply your talents elsewhere.


Be careful. You might be taken for a thorough professional who learned his craft from the keel up, and takes pride not in what he thinks he knows, but in what he has proven he can do. A scarce breed these days.

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Spoken like a true office man.

If someone with a real license (by real, I mean not one with so many limitations that it can only very narrowly applied) takes a job as a wiper or OS then that person is desperate plain and simple. In @Lunchbox_Sailor’s case, it sounds like his desperation was for a job that has him home every night, which is of course his choice to make.

In general, having a setup that intentionally attracts desperate applicants seems less than ideal.


Motivated might be a better word to use than desperate.


Disagree… If that person was motivated but not desperate, then he’d be out beating the bushes to find a licensed job. Once all those avenues have been extinguished, now he’s desperate and will take whatever job he can find (such as entry level)

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I’d say people are motivated to have a home every day job that is stable and reliable. Desperate would imply they can’t find work elsewhere, as opposed to choosing to make the commitment to the homefront.

People popping in and out of the ferry system would be a problem. People getting complacent IN the ferry system is a problem. You can go too far either way.


Fair enough.

In my experience, desperate men take the easiest way out. The WSF process does not seem an easy way to get a job, hence why would a desperate man take it?

Do you have CDL Class-A driver’s license, allowing you to drive the largest size of tractor trailer? No? Well, then your common driver’s license must be ‘un-real’, because it does not allow you to drive the biggest type of vehicle.

Based on your experience of hiring how many mariners?

You are now the sole arbiter of what a person wants and doesn’t want? You decide all motivations, analyze everyones’ intentions, presume to balance the objectives and desires of apx. 165 mililion possible job candidates?

What is your hat size? :rofl:

Can take this with a grain of salt, I’ve never worked for the ferries but my fwiw opinion is deep-sea masters or C/Es are the last people you want on the crew. Gawd they’d be insufferable.

If the ferry system needed a tune-up fix management, training req ect. Maybe stick some deep-sea guys shore-side but don’ t put them on the boats.


Lazy men take the easiest way out. Desperate men take the first (or only) available way out.

Nope. But I also don’t have a driver’s license that limits me only to vehicles less than 2000 GVWR, only can drive during the day during good weather and only with a max if one other person in the car. That type of license wouldn’t make me so marketable now would it?

Not designing your hiring process to intentionally target desperate people seems quite intuitive to me. If your vast experience as an office jockey says otherwise, by all means, make the case.

A little smaller than the asshole in the hiring department whose attitude is ‘if you’re not willing to come here, shovel shit for long hours for shit pay despite your qualifications then you’re not good enough to work with this great company’

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Heyyyyyy. I could sit on a stool As OS and tell the AB’s how to do their job with the best of them. That’s what they’re looking for, right? :grin:

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Good point. You have invested a lot to get to a certain point in your career and to suddenly take several steps back almost to square one is a tough pill to swallow. I agree that starting at the bottom in any organization and being able to walk the walk is valuable.
I posted earlier about passing on a job in the SF ferry system but it was not because of pride. It was because it was financially impossible for me at the time. I made a less financially punishing move later taking a job running survey launches for the COE so I could go home at night and it probably saved my marriage. I acted because I was motivated, not desperate; I could have stayed deep sea. It turned out to be an excellent move.

In either case how does this relate to the WSF hiring process, which at least to me does not seem conducive to hiring lazy or desperate men? What is your thought process here?

Where does marketability come in to the discussion of the WSF hiring process?

I think it would depend on the person and the outfit they came from/experience they’ve had. I’ve worked with academy grads that were very competent on paper but useless in real life, and others that were badass.
Some folks are molded by their systems and some recognize the system for what it is and try to improve it. The latter type can switch industries and be productive quick, the former are generally just loudmouths.

Also, to Hawsepiper:
What is your experience running Washington-state ferries?
What is your experience hiring mariners?
How many mariners have you hired?

This was covered earlier in the thread about my assertion that a person in possession of a license that is marketable in multiple parts of our industry is desperate if he takes an OS job.

Marketability comes in to any discussion about hiring because more marketable people tend to demand and receive the highest return for their labor. WSF’s process short circuits that norm by only hiring people into entry level positions regardless of that person’s qualifications. I feel this policy excludes many talented people from WSF’s pool of available candidates and limits them to people with low marketability (new guys) and desperate people.

As mentioned here, desperation can take many forms. Desperate for any job, desperate to save a marriage, desperate to spend more time with kids, desperate to not miss my favorite show, desperate to not miss taco Tuesday every week… Whatever… To each his own.