What attracts/repels mariners to a certain sector?

What do you feel are the key attractions (or repellants) to different branches of the maritime industry? Some examples:

Luxury yacht (I’m guessing on this one)
+fantastic ports of call
+good daily pay
-low or no benefits

Alaska crab boats
+crazy day pay
-miserable working conditions

Coastal tug boats
+short hitches (weeks)
+all year long work

Washington State Ferry
+home every night

Drill ships
+good pay
+short hitches (weeks)
-job instability

I’ve guessed on the above. Just wondering what others think of their respective niches.

I know someone who has worked as an engineer on luxury yachts and there are almost no down sides, he gets paid a very big salary and gets lots of perks. Some of the perks he has told me about are just incredible.

But I have heard that conditions are very variable within the luxury yacht industry with some having not such good conditions, I heard the hardest ones to work on are the ones that are chartered out to different rich people, if you work on one that is owned by a very rich person and they don’t charter it out then they often have the best conditions.

I’ve also heard that engineers have a much easier job that deck people on luxury yachts, engineers are hidden away and rarely come in contact with the owner and passengers, whereas deck people are more visible and have to put more effort into their appearance and work harder, as they are hidden away engineers might be able to take more breaks and browse the web on their phone, but deck people are more visible to the owner and passengers so always have to be seen to be working otherwise they might get sacked for being lazy.

It is a bit ableist but I have also heard that in many cases you need to be good looking to work on the deck side on a luxury yacht, owners have been known to fire or not hire people just because they don’t like their face, that’s why you need to put a picture of yourself on your CV if applying for a job on the yachts. As engineers are hidden away their level of attractiveness is not so important, less attractive people can work in the engine room without fear of being fired because of their looks.


Have never worked on anything but inland pushers and coastal unit, can only answer one of the questions you ask… I liked my last job the best later on working ATB’s, Deep notch, and the larger oil barges. They rode better, equal time, decent pay, and less problems than working wire in heavy weather. That the newer units omitted putting tow winches on them, a mistake in my opinion. But then again, the newbies wouldn’t have an easy time stretching out if they had to, they have rarely or never done it. Hats off to the people who worked wire boats before ATB"s. Belcher comes to mind regarding things going to shit. Most modern units are pretty decent.


Most of my experience is with tugs and osvs. I prefer osvs because they are more comfortable. I wish before i started a family i would have gotten some deep sea shipping time.

I’ve learned over the last few years from being laid off and dodging lay offs (from non-gom oilfield) that nothing lasts forever and some jobs are more stable than others…also nowhere is completely safe.

What attracts me now and my current lifestyle, I want an even time rotation (30-ish days at the most) and a good, affordable benefits package. Highest pay hasn’t been my bottom line for a long time, i kinda grew out of that.


Well said Ctony. Good benefits with chance for retainng your job and /or advancement will most always outdistance current pay. Pounding that into my 2 young boys heads forever, no matter where they work… Equal time rules as well.

I did 14/7 for a long time, did 28/14 too. I really hope i won’t have to again.


Did almost every shift known to tug guys early on… Nothing beats equal time for married guys with family. 3 and 3 was best for me. Ready to come home after 3, ready to leave home after 3 with little jet lag. A good profession when everything clicks to answer Deck Apes question.


im’d you

I started out on cruise ships as a young man. There was nothing bad about that job. Regular work schedule, twelve weeks on, six weeks off. It was almost three years before I spent a full twenty-four hours underway. Hundreds of shipmates. Parties every night with something for everyone - sex, gambling, alcohol, drugs, gyms, beaches and a bunch of side jobs for extra cash. Whatever your poison, it was there. And the money was damn good. 9/11 ended that.

Years later I took a relief job on another cruise ship. Not the same. Maybe I was too old for it. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves at least. I thought about going back to it but never did. That life is for young folks.

Not a good place to learn seamanship. The life offers too many temptations that can lead to bad things. Too many opportunities to spend your earnings.

That said, cruise ships are a good way to lure young folks into a maritime career. Fun first, then move to ‘real shipping’ later.


Having sailed for many years (on year 44 in the industry- about 13 Years ashore) The US Deep sea industry has changed quite a bit with regards to retention, time off, great companies, horrible companies…- hell even port time is much different.

Staring out in the late 70’s was no party- with American Export, Pacific far East, States Line and a few others trimming their fleets and later going bankrupt- jobs, especially for 3 A/E and 2 A/E were sparse- we generally shipped on 4 month jobs… Later when the bottom fell out- a lot of us went to MSC, where conditions were quite bad and the hitches were generally not less than 7-9 months- with a month or two off between jobs- sometimes we were thankful- to be employed- but always looked to go back commercial. I stacked up roughly10.5 months sea time a year for nearly ten years… Made it to C/E by age 30.

The older US Flag ships had spartan quarters- on the older steamships- we made out with lots of OT until the mid 80’s when USL went under- I was lucky; went back commercial in 88 and never looked back- the MSP European built ships were a joy- nice quarters, decent runs- but very little time in port and LOTS of repair and overhaul work.

Today, MSC runs their vessels (IMHO) like near prison ships- I have been hearing stories about 10+ months without getting relieved, Gangway Up orders- some really draconian crap- My sources are also stating that there is a mass exodus- even within the unlicensed ranks- something pretty much unheard of previously…

Retaining people? pretty hard to do in this day and age unless someone has it in their mind to stay for the long haul Yachts? No Thank You. Tugs & Tows- not really either Ill still take my 80 on 80 off commercial liner run any day.


Yeah, I have to agree. I need to have at least 2 months home to feel like I’ve been home at all and to forget the previous 2 months I spent at sea. Then I can start the cycle all over again, relatively sane.


Credentialing is what attracted me to the non fishing side (tugs). I like the fact that there is correlation to license/credentials and pay. Granted the system is flawed in a lot of ways but on a generalized level, more credentials equals higher pay. Any shoreside job I’ve had there is always an element of selling yourself and your skills once you get past degrees and stuff like that. From my experience, the people that have licenses tend to have more experience and knowledge than those that don’t. I also like the fact that it is easier to be rewarded for being motivated (ie attending school, self studying, etc) and earning those credentials, however that may be.


Last outfit I worked for rewarded mariners to upgrade their licenses and credentials, and helped pay for it.Not only did you get a nice bonus for acquiring pilotage, they paid you extra for each trip you used it. Certainly not equal to the pilot charges, but a nice little addition to your pay if you were on the bridge anyway. It helped more than a few of my former shipmates that were hired into the respective pilot groups/associations later on. No regrets.

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Performance/politics diagonal

Politics? We all go to sea to put bread on the table. Get the most while we are away from home. Some don’t take advantage of however small the opportunities are within their prefered occupation/employer. Many of my pals did… That’s their problem if they didn’t.

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You just had to trigger those Belcher memories. . . .


Cmakin,I’m truly sorry if I awakened your nightmare working for that horrible outfit and badly designed equipment…Was not on purpose to perk your mind. Only time I broke a cable on a light barge, a 250 class, north of Key West. Was not the only one who broke a cable. As I stated before, was in the same storm not too far away from them when it met it’s demise. It was a really nasty Northwester in February if I remember correctly . Many vessels had trouble those few days. Our company ended up buying the 400k barrel barge from Belcher (minus the tug/unit that is on the bottom in GOM) and used it for lightering after finding another more suitable piece of junk to drive it. You have my greatest respect sir. I sailed with one of the engineers that was employed by them on those units… Sharp dude that was glad to be out of there. Eventually became one of our port engineers. Will always wonder where we had a Lone Star together. Again, to answer Deck Apes question, would do it all over again, the good with the bad.

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Well, I am using just a tad of sarcasm. . . and I wasn’t on the TAMPA. We had enough issues with the PORT EVERGLADES over the six months or so that I was there. . .It was a most interesting experience. . oh, as was the SEA SKIMMER. Who knew that the ITB concept would be as viable as it is today. In all honesty? I really enjoyed my time on string boats as the only engineer. No one to blame but me, and no one to screw up but me. . . not that I didn’t do it my share of times. Especially considering I was just a punk kid at the time. . . . even with those adventures out on deck during weather. . . .


Miss the sea? Get one of these:


Saw this on another site I follow, hilarious. Two other sets of rocker feet at 45’s would complete the creation.