Words for the aspiring sailor


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.


Everything that you have asked has been replied ad infinitum on this forum and is just a search (top right) away. ‘Hawsepipe’ is good term to start searching and educating yourself.

All those questions should have been answered by Cal Maritime which you intend to join anyways.

And, do read the sticky “READ THIS FIRST! If you are looking for a job, includeing you just graduated cadets.” on the employment side of the forum.

you “toddled” you say eh? that would make you a toddler then…

have you thought to be a Sea Scout yet? You might need to wait a few years till you are old and tall enough but it is a fine place for a naive young boy like yourself to become a nasty foul mouthed sarcastic old crust of a seaman…

then comes all the booze, brawls, broads and barbiturates…

you sure you want to be a mariner son?


Learn Celestial Navigation. That way you’ll be a head when you go to school. You should also just go straight into the academy rather than going to CC, IMO anyway.

Also, just out of curiosity, why merchant shipping rather than the Navy or CG. Most young people I know interested in a seagoing career would think of those first.

I second the notion of going straight into the academy. I got my associates before I went in to Texas Maritime, and almost none of my credits transferred. You will save a year or 2 going straight in.

Son, let go of your mother’s hand and figure out your life for yourself. C.Captain’s picture is pretty much how I’m seeing you: a naive, scared shitless little kid.

But…my advise is to spend a year at sea first before you dive into academy life. Pick up your TWIC and MMC and apply like crazy to SIU and SUP with sea bag in hand. After you have a year of sea life under your belt, and if you still feel like these big steel things are cooler than shit, put your ass in an academy, the cheapest one.

What the fuck are you doing in community college anyway? If you want a life at sea, get your ass to sea.

If my words sound harsh, that’s because I grew up in a shitty neighborhood where every dumbfuck was out fighting for a handful of nickles and their mother’s respect. In the marine world, there’s a bunch of assholes just like me. But if you do your job, and do your job well, you have my respect and I’ll back you harder than you could ever imagine. So earn my respect, and the respect of every other mariner on this board by showing us how you can hold your own, how you can take the time to research which direction you want your life to go, and then show us steps you have taken to reach your goals.

cturd Is that a self portrait of your early days

The old b.s. romance of the sea is gone. Ships are in and out of port very quickly

The quick summary:

Advantages: 1. good pay 2. long periods of vacation 3. if you do your job, you don’t have to take anybody’s crap 4. you work with some good people

Disadvantages 1. long hours 2. long periods away from home 3. when you first start, you will have to keep your yap shut 4. you work with some shit heads and cranky old bastards

[QUOTE=knothead;143574]cturd Is that a self portrait of your early days[/QUOTE]

NAW! More like this…

btw, fine username you gots…very fitting imo

If you want to work hard, make solid money and be away from home, great. I enjoy doing my job, can’t really think of too many other things I’d rather do, if I had to work for a living that actually paid worth a fuck. Professional football player or pornstar (only the ones who bang hot women) comes to mind, but that’s about it.

All bullshit aside go to the academy ASAP, or go start as an OS with a gameplan and a mentor to get you on track for a good career. Realty is that if you do either and don’t like it after the first few months, it’s not going to be your thing.

I was in the Navy at your age, mainly to get away from a shitty/boring home life with no job prospects. I didn’t know much about the merchant marine then, and I don’t know if there were many opportunities for me then anyway (I’m female). I didn’t finish college until years later, only to realize that I didn’t care for desk work, either. In between, I worked at shipyards. Now I sail for the government as a civilian.

The military is a commitment of years, not months. You may like it, but if you don’t, you’re stuck. Why not look at the academies now? You should also get your entry level credentials, as others said, so you can work here and there as a deckhand or wiper. You may decide it’s not for you. At least you’ll be able to walk away.

Also, take a look at the SIU program at Piney Point. Another guy here just got accepted.

If you are young and in good health you have loads of options.

Get a job on a dock if you can’t get to the water. If you can’t get a job on a dock get one in a coastal town. That should get you closer.

Go boozing in a waterfront saloon, let some guy buy you a drink and wake up 3 days later and 200 miles offshore.

I was lucky…similar scam happened to one of my cronies but HE woke up in a cheap motel in Canarsie…minus a kidney.

[QUOTE=Bilgeman;143667]Go boozing in a waterfront saloon, let some guy buy you a drink and wake up 3 days later and 200 miles offshore.

I was lucky…similar scam happened to one of my cronies but HE woke up in a cheap motel in Canarsie…minus a kidney.[/QUOTE]

I don’t think he’s old enough to drink :wink:

Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I posted this before I realized I was probably going to get a response saying “search function”, and unfortunately I was too late to see whatever c captain probably had for me. Feel free to message it to me if you have any input of value or just want to tear me a new one.

I don’t know shit and yeah, I’m pretty scared because I don’t want to muck it up the first time. I’m at a community college because I am missing two high school credits I would’ve needed to enter right out of school. So now I need the college equivalent of those credits and additional classes because I’m a transfer student.

I suddenly find a lot of people around me talking about the Coast Guard, any benefit to going private after some time with them?

[QUOTE=catherder;143708]I don’t think he’s old enough to drink ;-)[/QUOTE]

that never stopped me!

[QUOTE=c.captain;143710]that never stopped me![/QUOTE]

Lemme guess…sippy cup with 80 proof orange juice?

Never stopped me either, but the do-gooder nanny state we live in today will give him a citation that will follow him around like an ankle-biting chihuahua!

Of course, he can come work for the government…and drink right on the job like some of these guys do, yeeee haaaa

[QUOTE=catherder;143711]Lemme guess…sippy cup with 80 proof orange juice?[/QUOTE]

FUCK 80 proof…that watered down SHIT is for mewing infants! I am all growed up and wear underpants to bed even!

Now I heard little children
Were supposed to sleep tight
That’s why I got into the vodka one night
My parents got frantic
Didn’t know what to do
But I saw some crazy scenes
Before I came to
Now do you think I was crazy
I may have been only three
But I was swinging

Who did everyone go to work for once they’d gotten their third mate’s? I was once given the figure of 6 months with Shell and $60,000. Then again, if I could work on an icebreaker thatd be pretty cool too. If I can make the money, putt around the world and wear out my body while I’m young, I’ll be all lined to become one of those mean, borderline alcoholic old farts, like you guys :slight_smile: