What Do Mariners Do When We Retire?

@injunear @tengineer1 @Tugs

I’ve read your guys comments about being retired from sailing & was hoping you could share some wisdom with us poor working saps. I think about retiring every day & I’m always reading a retirement or financial book or have one on my to-read list. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard about a book for mariners concerning what we should do after we stop shipping out. As you know, our lifestyles aren’t the typical Ward & June Cleaver routine. So here are a few things I’m curious about…

  1. Do you get a part time job or volunteer somewhere to stay busy? Being retired seems like a long time off & usually after a couple of months at home I kind of don’t mind being aboard for the first few days to do something different.

  2. Did any of you take any temporary spot jobs sailing after retiring. 2 weeks to a month sailing is about the same amount of money that a part-time WalMart greeter will make in a year.

  3. How bad do you miss the traveling? I’ve spent more than half of my adult life traveling outside the US. I’ve been in the maritime industry since I was 18. I wonder how it’s going to be with seeing & talking mostly with Americans & staying forever on land stateside?

  4. How did/does your wives take it with you being home all the time? I’ve been happily married for 13 years but we’ve only lived together for 50% of that time. I love my wife but I suspect it will be weird living together forever without any breaks. I think the time apart is one of the things that keeps us so fresh. It’s both of ours 1st marriage & it will be new to us since we never experienced anything else. Do you guys stay together all year long or do you vacation & travel separately sometimes?

  5. How hard was the adjustment to switching to a fixed, set income after making substantially more while sailing?

  6. Have you ever been able to sleep late again? I like waking up early but wouldn’t mind sleeping until 9am a couple of days a week if I could.

I’ll probably have more questions later but those are a good start? I know no one will have time to write a book answering all 5 questions but anything you feel like sharing will be enlightening. For any other mariners who’s retired, please respond as well if you want.


It’s 0530 hrs. got the coffee on, fire started, crew is up and fed (1 cat 1 dog).


Retirement is easy. You can take the time to visit places in other countries you only stopped in before. Once away from ports they are all nicer.
With proper planning you won’t notice a loss of income. Everything is paid for and you’re no longer saving for retirement :slightly_smiling_face:
I do a little contract consulting and could do more but I am retired.
You won’t notice the change of pace if you start slowing down your last few years of employment. You can even further speak your mind too. Lots of people will celebrate your retirement. Have fun !


I’m still adjusting after 8 years. It’s a big change. Right after I retired, we bought land in the country. I missed being around water and after a few years we relocated to an island and bought a boat.

I’m up before dawn and find plenty to do. I volunteer for a nonprofit dolphin research organization, help run a sailing school for kids in the summer, do an occasional boat delivery, serve on a couple of boards, use my boat to help maintain our harbor or go fishing or take a sunset cruise with friends or family, take the dogs for a run on the beach (they run, not me).

I do the boat deliveries more for the diversion than the money so I can afford to pick and choose the ones that interest me


We have separate interests and that can go either way but definitely a big adjustment.

Owning my own time: priceless

It’s rare for me to sleep more than 6 hours at a stretch, but on the plus side I can nap whenever I feel like it.

Overall, it’s been a liberating experience and if I feel like it, I can spend the time to write a long answer to a question like yours on this forum. :slightly_smiling_face:


There was an adjustment from sailing captain running world-wide.

I felt a lot more in the loop. Golden Ace? Talked to a river pilot in Brunswick. China? Just got back from hitting three ports over there. Middle East, just took a military load through the Straits of Hormuz, talked to the Iran Navy on VHF, and so forth,

Now? I just another guy, going quietly about my business, nobody cares what I’m doing, except my wife, maybe.

Occhiloism has set in.


n. the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.


When did you retire?

Spring 2019.

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Thanks for the insight about retired life guys. I’ve been concentrating on the financial part of it since I started working. But a few months ago we sat down to crunch the numbers, look at birthdays, graduations, balances & saving rates & put a date on the once vague dream. 68 more months. With the finish line being in sight I started to be curious about what people in our profession do once the race is over.

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Yes, one gets a bit of humility upon retirement.
I was still working and as I was flying off across the country to another country as I was looking down on all the houses and cities below the airplane which contained millions of people I started thinking. Yes, I had a job that paid me a lot of money and commanded respect from a relatively small group of people in a small industry. Most people have no idea what we do and cannot relate our job to anything in their experience. As I looked down from 20,000+ feet it suddenly occurred to me that if I died 99.99% of those people would neither miss me nor know what I accomplished. It was a humbling thought and made me realize that what we accomplish in life depends on how we treat our family and fellow man not some title or how much money we made for when we come to the end of our life it will be all we have to look back on and all those who knew us remember.


My dad built a couple sailboats after he retired. Swears he’ll drop dead if he just sits around all day and does nothing

My dad built (from kits) 27 harpsichords, all but one after he retired. But he was shoreside, worked on things having to do with submarines most of his career.

The only trouble I have since retiring is with landlubbers. Very few of the sons of bitches have the decency to address me as Captain. :face_with_monocle:


Probably if you wore your uniform more. The nice one, not the boiler suit. :slight_smile:


That reminds me of the retired captain who got furious when street paver workers didnot get up and stood at attention when he passed…

  1. I have “doin nothin” down to a science. If you need any pointers, lemme know.

  2. When I took “early normal” retirement, I had to sign a disclaimer that I would leave the maritime industry. It seems many were taking early retirement and going to work for the non-union competition. They lightened up on the restriction. I was called back a few times for emergency relief for a few days. Worked out well for me when I needed a new dock and bulkhead. Locally for the area shrimpers, I splice cable, mechanic work and electronic repair. I prefer payment in shrimp. (will work for food)

  3. I do not miss traveling after 39 years in the business.

  4. This was my main concern when I retired. For 22 years my wife had to put up with me 28/28 most of the time. It has worked out very well. The only vacation we’ve taken apart was when she and my granddaughters took a 5 day cruise.

  5. Was not hard at all as we had no debt for several years before retiring. Drawing 50% of our base pay and excellent insurance coverage.

  6. I still wake up at 0500 every morning but nap any time I choose. I remember when naps were punishment!!


Being really married 24/7, 365 days a year together is tied for the #1 concern for me. My wife & I talk about it often & she is more optimistic than me. I’ve always wanted to finish section hiking the Appalachian Trail or start section hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. I tell her that I’ll work the AT & PCT on a 14/28 day rotation if I start driving her too crazy in retirement. If others can do it I guess we’ll figure it out too.

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Working at most 6months a year is semi-retired to me.

My answer may not be that relevant, but are sailors around the world really that different?

My father retired early at 55 after a nearly 40-year career at sea; I was still living at home at that time. Now that I see it, it took him almost a decade of adjusting: he still sailed occasionally, either for relief or just when they needed an “old-style deckhand” who had the skills and patience required to do basic maintenance work properly, but also spent more time at the shore and sometimes even took up jobs touch-up painting harbor cranes etc. (they are not entirely unlike ships in that respect) for some extra income that could then be invested to holiday travels. It took some time for mom to adjust as well as she had become accustomed to dad being away for every other month. About five years ago, he finally decided he’d had enough of the modern maritime world (also, most of the sailors from his generation had also retired), burned all his certificates in the fireplace, got a dog and settled down at the family cabin. He still wakes up before six every morning and dislikes having too many trees blocking his view to the sea. I’ve never asked if he misses the time at sea, but I can see that sometimes he does.

Now that I’m working in the shipbuilding industry, I sometimes come across people who ask if I’m related to that one guy with a memorable last name they remember from their time at sea.


Toughest part. Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder was probably a sailor.