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Merchant Marine switching into yachts?
Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 11:47 PM
Joined: 08/06/2011
Posts: 1

  After a year and a half of working on two seperates yachts as a deckhand and a cook I have decided to enroll at Cal Maritime and become a merchant marine.  I am curious if this will make me marketable or not if I ever decide to make the switch from commercial to privately owned 60m and larger yachts in the future?  I will graduate with a 3rd mate unlimited and after 5-7 years or so will have a Masters unlimited.  I've decided to go this route because I feel it gives me more options, rather than just working my way up the ladder on yachts.  I will be able to work on cruise ships, oil tankers, tug boats... I could even try and become a harbor pilot if I felt compelled to devote years to studying and networking towards that goal.

  I want to keep the option of coming back to the yachting world open, however.  I know from reading this forum that this is a stigma attached to commercial captains making the transition into yachts.  I'd rather not get into a discussion of the pros and cons of working under a captain who was previously in the merchant marines, I just would like to know will my experience and certifications make me marketable?  And would it be realistic to think that after spending some time as a captain of say a container ship, could I then come back into the yachting industry and secure a position as captain on a 60m or larger vessel?

Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 3:43 AM
First, there is no such person as a merchant marine, it is a merchant mariner. Marines fight wars. Mariners bring the marines their gear to fight those wars. Second, Cal Maritime is an OK state school, but not really known for a high caliber professional mariner. The best option is to apply for a congressional appointment to the US Merchant Marine Academy. But being a service academy like West Point and Annapolis, it only accepts the top 1% of the nation's students. The next best options are SUNY Maritime and/or Maine Maritime. After that, Mass, Texas, and California. Great Lakes has a school, but that is aimed at work in that area. Another recommendation would be to search the alumni directories of those schools and see who is working in the yachting industry. Ask their graduates directly. In South Florida, there is a large maritime alumni network. They meet monthly in Fort Lauderdale. You should try to attend that and ask questions. Third, you may want to revise your timeline there for obtaining your Master's license. Unless you are sailing every day without a break and perfectly timing your upgrade school training, plus week-long license exams, you should plan on 8-10 years before topping out. So your option would be a minimum of 12 years (school included) before obtaining your Master's license and then a few years until sailing on it, depending on the company you work for. Keep in mind that if you sail on yachts upon graduation with your 3/M license, you need to be on a yacht above 3000 GT for 360 days to upgrade your license to the next level. Lastly, whichever school you choose, if you want to make the sea your career, there is no better route to become a professional. There are some top-notch yachties that did it the hard way. They deserve a ton of credit, but even they will admit that a maritime college provides a solid baseline from which to build. Good luck.
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 12:04 PM
Joined: 12/07/2010
Posts: 57

They way the market is today it will be time , energy and moneys well spent , go for it.
Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011 1:36 AM
Joined: 30/08/2010
Posts: 3

I've been sailing as a ships officer in the merchant marines for tweny-eight years (finishing the last twelve as master) and I am now starting the process of sailing on yachts. Anonymous is wrong in stating that the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy puts out the best sailors. Ask anyone who has gone to sea for awhile. California Maritime puts out some good officers as does the other maritime academies, the difference being that Kings Point (the U.S. Maritime Academy) teaches their cadets to think only of themselves and snitch on their classmates, while the state schools that I'm familiar with (Maine, Mass., New York & California) instill in their cadets the value of working as shipmates and pulling together. Anonymous is correct in that it will take much longer than what you're saying to get your masters license. Although I'm new to yachting, I do know about the U.S. Merchant Marines. If you want a seagoing carreer, you're on the right track. Good Luck.
Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011 3:04 AM
BGosselin, it's unfortunate to see your anamosity towards Kings Point come through in your advice. Such generalization is useless for an up and coming cadet. Really, everyone from KP is a snitch? Come on. One could say the same about a student from any maritime school, union school, or hawsepiper. Grads from each school have their best and worst people. In addition, the poster never said that Kings Point puts out the best sailor, but is the best option. If a student can get a full scholarship versus paying tuition at a state school, why not try? I hope your stereotyping is not expressed on your crew. Good luck to them.
Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011 3:45 PM
Joined: 12/06/2011
Posts: 3

Phenominal decision!  California Maritime's structure represents the industry far better than Kings Point.  The days of marching and up-tight officers are over.  You will love the place.  If you do love yachting though, don't let them brain wash you into believing that Yachtsmen and just "Yachty Pricks"-- Bosun Allen.  I did my time there, did some time on a tankers and am now back into yachting.  With the yachting industry shifting into larger commercial status yachts, your education will set you up to be a leader in the industry.  Don't forget, the giga yachts need the unlimited liscenses.   

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2011 2:36 PM
LOL. The loudest critics about Kings Point are the ones that quit or the ones that could not get in. If you want to become the best Army officer, you go to West Point. Naval Officer? Annapolis. AF officer? Colorado Springs. Coastie? New London. Merchant Mariner? Kings Point. Enough said.
Posted: Monday, June 13, 2011 11:46 PM
Joined: 12/06/2011
Posts: 3


I would hope that that response was not directed towards me.  I'm sure it wasn't though.  A proper Merchant Marine Officer knows never to make false assumtions on a  a topic.  As for myself I never applied to K.P. nor did I ever want to.  As for getting in, I come from a very connected family so the letter of appointment would not have been an issue.  I also graduated top of my class at Cal so making the cut would not have been an issue either.

I like to teach my newbie's that assuming things will only fault you in the future.  You either know or you dont.  There is nothing wrong with not knowing.  To be a true leader one must be able to know when they need more information. 

P.S. For someone with such a large opinion on this matter, I am very surprised that you hide behind the name Anonymous. 

Capt. Jon

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2011 11:55 PM
The critics of Kings Point are usually professional ships officers or crew with many years of experience who have sailed with grads or cadets from this academy. The argument that if you want a top notch professional in the Army or Navy they only come out of the federal academies is nonsense. Colin Powell and others comes to mind. I came out of a state maritime academy and many of us never heard of Kings Point untill our second year, and many people still have never heard of this school, so the statement that people are angry that they did not get in is another good one. I agree with bgosselin that the majority of grads from this school think only of themselves, not all are "snitches". However, ratting on your classmates is encouraged. This usually does not make for a good shipmate. If you want to be a part of this type of schooling, even if it's free, good luck to you. My experiense is that state maritime academies grads make better shipmates and sailors than the Federal Maritime Academy.
Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 5:16 PM
Joined: 30/08/2010
Posts: 3

Anonymous, You twisted my words. I did not say that everyone from Kings Point is a snitch. How did you come up with that? The culture at this academy is if you see someone breaking the rules, it's your duty as a cadet to report this to your superior. We had a slogan, "cooperation leads to graduation", and it works. Our whole class graduated with our licenses. You list your "next best option" in category after Kings Point are SUNY and Maine, followed by Mass., Texas and California. This sounds like a list of what you think are in order of quality rather than "options". To the person that started this blog, your going in the right direction, Cal Maritime is a terrific school.
Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 10:36 PM
[Comment deleted by moderator]

Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 3:22 PM
Joined: 30/08/2010
Posts: 3

[Comment deleted by moderator] Nothing was said about lieing, cheating, stealing, or breaking rules. Our moto: "cooperation leads to graduation" refers to pulling together as a class to help those that are having difficulty in a subject or thier license preperation. And I did not attend California Maritime as you suggest. After tenty-two years of sailing with ships officers from all the U.S. seagoing maritime academies, I'd take a California grad any day over a Kings Pointer. This is the opinion of many ships captains. My original comments were to help and encourage the person who posted the question.
[Above comments edited by moderator]

Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 4:20 PM
[Comment deleted by moderator. Please adhere to forum guidelines]

Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 9:22 PM
After this discussion, I'ld definately go with a state academy.
Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:41 AM
Why would anyone pursue a career at sea? It's a waste of time. Soon there will be no positions available outside of Jones Act ships and military sealift. 95% of the world's ships are manned by Asian seafarers. If you decide to go to college, become a lawyer or accountant. There will always be a demand for them. Ship officers from the western world are an endangered species.
Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:50 PM
Joined: 19/12/2010
Posts: 5

The best choice that you can do! Try to study hard because the more you now the more powerful you fill as proffesional!!! Only have in mind that life and work at sea is not an easy way but SEA is the biggest school in the world! Go on...

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