This is my first post here on gCaptain, following some deliberation. You will forgive the brief background. I am a recent high school graduate in landlocked Idaho, who has some idea that he wants to become a merchant mariner. I did my senior project on the increasing access in the Arctic area, and toddled over to Tacoma to tour one of TOTE’s newer Arctic-conditioned cargo ships and some Foss vessels. I’ve done my best to network with some master mariners and potential employers, toured Cal. Maritime with the definite intentions of applying (after wrapping up community college) and now I sit, twiddling my thumbs.
With the rigor of education and training, lifestyle change that comes with the a sea-going career and general unfamiliarity with the maritime world, I am rather unprepared. Everyone aboard a vessel is expected to know their job and be able to do it well, as I once read “the master mariner is he who cannot only deliver a ship safely, but on time”. No doubt prowess and confidence comes from training, experience and mistakes. But what can I do now with the aim of preparing, or at least becoming more knowledgeable about anything and everything maritime?
Actual hands-on experience where I am does not seem possible, being as how there isn’t even a puddle deep enough to soak in. But if there are organizations I should know, terms, laws, universal procedures, various flags, nautical measurements or whether or not I need to know how to tie some absurd knot, any advice or warnings from mariners, at the helm or down below, would be greatly appreciated.
Also, I’m curious if there are specific work opportunities, shipping companies and maritime unions that anyone has had a positive experience with. Or, if circumstance finds me wanting to work before I acquire a license, where to look and what to expect for someone starting at the bottom of the hawespipe.
Thank you for your time, I appreciate it.