Is it really that bad out there right now? I really must be out of touch with reality. I just remember the days when I could not get any time off because I did not have a relief or I would have to come back early because someone could not stay away from their girlfriend or momma more than a couple of days at a time. Seriously!! 18 months of actively searching for employment with your qualifications. It was always the deck guys that could work over as much as they wanted. Even after I got my license I could work as much as I wanted. I could have seriously stayed at work for 365 days a year if I wanted. The company would have allowed it. I remember working for John E. Graham and Sons. I would drive that carry-all back to Bayou La Batre from Louisiana. I would go inside to chat with old man Willy and have a cup of coffee with him before I went home and he would be like Lee I have a deckhand that did not show up for crew change on the Betty G or the Celestine G on the Ms. Pam, would you be interested in working extra? Then I would get back in the same carry-all and drive back to Morgan City or Intercoastal or Fourchon or Venice. I remember it like yesterday. I must have been insane!!
I guess there is just an overwhelming number of people out there with identical credentials. Once you do get back to work you need to get a license. Once you get that license keep upgrading. Take every school you can, especially the ones that the company will either pay for or provide for you. Each class you take and each upgrade you achieve makes you a more valuable employee and a better mariner. Eventually you will be able to pick and choose jobs, even in a down market because you are qualified for so many different positions. It may not be the job of your dreams, but it will put food on the table. Good luck to you. Expand your search, show up in person and make yourself available for immediate start dates. Anybody can pick up a phone and it is very easy to say no to someone on the phone. It is a lot tougher to do it in person. Especially if you dress nice and have a profesional demeanor when showing up at their doorstep. Stay positive and humble. Make the rounds again. Contact ex employers and expand your search to other areas like drilling rigs, tugs, jack ups. Hire on as a roustabout with a drilling company if you have to. It is money and a good way to get your foot in the door on a drill ship. Once you get there as a roustabout with an AB it won’t take long before you get picked up by the marine department. Starting salary as a roustabout with some drilling companies is over 60K work even time. 70 to 100K for a Bosun with the right company working even time. Have you checked out rigzone. I have seen advertisements for AB’s there occasionally.
I am not questioning you, but it has been a long time since I have been knocking on doors, so I may have lost touch with reality. Just remember the more you know and the more you can do makes you more valuable to employers.