What attracts/repels mariners to a certain sector?

Tonnage - bigger is better.

Speed - faster is better.

Pay - higher is better.

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Type of people you work for.

Type of people in the crew.

Excessive/fewer stupid rules and bullshit/no bullshit.

Quality of vessels.

Profitability/unprofitability of companies in the sector.

Job stability/instability.

Opportunities for advancement.

Is the work enjoyable?

Location and schedule.


In retrospect in the shipping business Iwas quite happy on some pretty crappy ships that respected the work I did, fed me well and paid me on time. I was most unhappy making mid six figure income and being subjected to endless meetings espousing BS and being told I had to meet some quarterly profit goal that was impossible without pushing an ever decreasing number of qualified people beyond their capabilities and resources.


When I was sailing I was fine with making it home once or twice a year. I think MSC would of been fine with me but being confined to ship or ashore someplace ‘unsafe’ would be hard to take too often. being at sea is one thing but being aboard within sight of land for very long was another. Kinda hard to explain i guess.

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I would amend this to say “good annual pay”
Also add:

-work year round with very little time off.
-being “the help” to entitled rich people.

(AFAIK, Only a few of the biggest and fanciest have rotations.)

That should be:
-paid based on catch so can be really good can be zero.

You’re paid by share so you can make a lot of a little for essentially the same work. I’ve work with numerous former crabbers and fishermen who traded the potential for really high pay for a steady day rate.

Totally. Long refits in a yard is the pits

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When I started sailing (in 1959) the contract period was 18 mths. (2 years if the ship was trading in the Far East only) Although you could sign off (and get free travel home) after 1 year, provided the ship called at a N.European port.

Pay was only for time onboard. No paid leave, or agreed leave period. When you were bored, (or broke, which ever came first) you reported to the mustering office to apply for job on whichever ship was hiring. (Usually plenty of jobs available)

Very different for Norwegian seamen today, with permanent employment with a company, Even time on/off and payment runs 12 mths/yr.

Of course with free travel to/from the vessel, anywhere in the world and to/from wherever you call home. Rotation on ships in worldwide trade is mostly 2/2 mths. (Some may have 3/3)

Rotation on OSVs in the North Sea is mostly 3/3 weeks (5/5 weeks if operating outside Europe)
On some CSVs and on Drilling rigs, FSO/FPSO etc. the rotation is 2 weeks on/4 weeks off.

Klaveness or Kraken may correct me here, since I may not be fully informed.

ombugge, you started lots sooner than I (1999) but you describe what i always thought it would be like. ((I spent many years in aerospace machining and also retired army some of which explains why I ''took to water"" pretty well … just started later but it was the absolute best thing i ever did.

gawd!!!, I can’t think of anyone who ever thinks going …there, is good. Except for MAYBE the krap that is ‘‘going to get fixed’’ but seems to remain much the same or worse , ha ha.
it was usually so bad I had ‘forgotten’ all about it … it did co-incide with my chance for time off which I utilized but having the theives aboard and limited meals and etc. etc. was … what it was, i suppose some eng. here found it not so bad but i never met one yet. can’t wait for a response to this.

Long shipyard periods sucked.

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shallow water marine surveyor, oceanographer, hydrographer, marine biologist

  • playing in small boats in places most vessels/mariners cannot even get close
  • on good days you couldn’t believe you were actually getting paid to be there
  • camarederie with colleagues
  • boating around the west coast of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides etc
  • being your own boss whilst working away
  • no costs whilst working away, all transport, accomm, food and drink provided
  • foreign travel
  • working out of different ports and harbours, home and abroad, coming back to shore each night for rest and a beer
  • being in at the very start of a marine project eg surveying for cable landfalls, windfarms, outfall pipes etc


  • working away, very weather dependent, never could be sure when you’d complete the job cos of weather delays
  • long daily hours to make the most of good weather, or working full tidal cycles plus mob and demob either side
  • pay, not great compared to other marine professions
  • working away, strain on relationships, missing birthdays, weddings, births, funerals, other social occasions
  • weather and sea conditions in autumn and winter can be difficult and miserable on a small boat

I never gave much thought to what attracted/repelled other mariners to certain sectors but have been curious by those who work in one specific sector/vessel their whole careers. I think it is geography, education & opportunity that attracts people to their first sector and probably the same reasons that gets them to stay? I’ve worked inland pushboat, seismograph, OSV, tugs(wire), ATB’s, AHTS, construction, hotel vessel, cargo & research. I even helped a friend deliver a yatch once. All sectors were best suited for me at that particular time in my life & I moved along shortly after it stop being so. I like research, tugs & ATB the best but would go back to any of them if the money, schedule & working conditions were okay.

As for pros & cons, what one mariner sees as a “pro” others see as a “con” but for me it’s been about atmosphere, schedule, salary & job dependability in that order. Higher salary is important but time off is equally important IMO.


You forgot the dredging industry!
Trailing suction hopper dredges (not cutterhead or bucket dredges) are almost all unlimited tonnage, equal rotations (21-21 or 28-28), good to excellent pay, paid travel, and most importantly steady work. I have been dredging since 1995 and only had one year that was slow in all that time. I’ve had guys bail when the oilfield was paying stupid money, get laid off and when they finally got back on a dredge say that it was basically a wash, as the huge day rate got averaged in with months of layoff’s. One downside is some Mate’s use dredges as a stepping stone for becoming a pilot (an obvious track), good for them, but that means we have to train another Mate!


A few of my pals worked dredge rigs. Most stayed with it, a very good point sir. Did you ever run into a former door gunner in Nam, last name Decker from Pearl River, LA? The locals near Piney Point jumped him for getting some attention from a gal that liked him more than them… Went to his truck, got an axe handle, and beat the fuck out of all three of them.President of SIU Mike Sacco had his arm around his shoulders a few weeks later at a meeting which I cannot remember the subject. Last time I saw George was on an early flight to New Orleans from Norfolk., They dragged anchor in heavy Outer Banks weather and damaged Oregon Inlet Bridge. His hands were full. Damn good fellow who left us too soon. He also worked for Dixie Carriers on the “Rebel”.

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Years ago I had a friend who sailed in the oil industry. She would join the ship in California, sail up to Valdez to load, head down to Barbers Point to discharge to a buoy, then go back to California. One hundred and twenty days later she stepped off the ship. I thought it was atrocious. The whole time she was gangway up before gangway up became a term. To her it was just the job. She loved it.

Now, if you ask an MSC guy to do that they lose their shit. But an MSC guy will be months overdue and take that in stride. They’ll go home for a month and head back for another six. That’s something my friend would’t have tolerated.

So, does the square peg find a square hole? Or does the fluid take the shape of its container?

That’s why I asked the question about what attracts or repels mariners to a certain sector. Why are some people okay with the abhorrent while others will quit at the first opportunity? What are the trade-offs that make a sector okay?


Most people just fit better doing what they know. They have already adjusted their attitudes to it and organized their lives around it. Change can be difficult.


Haven’t seen any of them lately. Are there any left?

Yes there are, but nowhere near as many as in the “Golden Age” of Norwegian shipping (1960/70s) when there were >60000 active seamen in Norway, mostly on ships under Norwegian flag.

Today there are far fewer and many are working on ships under foreign flag, while many ships flying Norwegian flag (NIS) has no Norwegians on board.