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Yachting vs. Merchant Mariners
Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 4:51 PM
Joined: 09/09/2015
Posts: 2

I know we're all here to talk about the yachting industry, but I'm looking for people who know both the yachting industry AND the commercial (merchant mariner) industry.
I have worked in the yachting industry and I'm familiar enough with it. It's been several years since I've worked on a boat now, and I'm taking some new classes and looking for work again. I recently starting reading some things about merchant mariner jobs and how they can sometimes offer more time off (2 wks on, 2 off, for example), potentially better pay, etc. I've been researching a lot lately trying to understand that industry better (because I knew NOTHING about it a week ago) and I have learned quite a bit. I know the lowest rank to be Ordinary Seaman, but I have some experience and sea time, so I'd like to maybe go in as Ordinary Seaman and then get on to Able Seaman as soon as possible. I'm already enrolled in the class, just need a bit more sea time toward it. But I started looking around and it seems there aren't very many jobs out there for Ordinary Seamans, and this worries me. Should I jump int the yachting industry and build more sea time, get my AB, and THEN go into that industry? Ultimately, I'd like to work up the ladder building my captains licenses and perhaps be a mate or captain in the future. 
For pay, it seems Ordinary Seaman don't make great money, but I'm trying to compare it to the yachting industry. Is one really better than the other in regard to pay? Let's EXCLUDE busy charter boats for a moment and get down to base salary. I read an expired listing yesterday for an Able Seaman that was two weeks on and two weeks off that paid just under $3000/mo, and while that seems like entry level pay in the yachting industry, it's only half the month! And you're building time and a half sea time quick too. I'm thinking it's probably easier to advance in your licenses being on boats like that too because you're constantly offshore building sea time. 
For the long run, or even for a 2-3 year run, which one is probably going to be the better when it comes to getting more time off and making good money? I'm all for working long, hard hours, but having two weeks off a month and making the same as a deckhand on a yacht that only gets weekends off is pretty good incentive. 
Also, I'm female. Is it going to be troublesome looking for entry level work on a big gnarly ship like that? Yachting is slightly more cush in that regard. I just don't know about these big tanker ship things...
Does anyone have any advice or input on this? Thanks for your helping advance!

Posted: Friday, September 11, 2015 6:55 PM
Joined: 09/09/2008
Posts: 78

You worked in yachting, but not for a few years. How old are U? Getting a job in the deck department on a commercial vessel is probably going to be hard. Generally those are positions for young men due to the physical nature of things, and generally not a lot of available positions as it is, and when something opens up, I would assume someone in the business is going to have a friend or relative in line, my thought anyway. When you worked on yachts, what was your position? Did you work the deck in other capacities than handing lines, and helping wash? Can you operate a tender? So many things to consider, its tough for a male, harder for a female, just the fact, can be done though.
Numpty Sailor
Posted: Friday, September 11, 2015 8:20 PM
Joined: 06/08/2014
Posts: 23

Why not look a it from the employers point of view ? How much experience have you got ? What kind of experience have you got ? What can you do for them ? Are you worth $3,000 pm ? 
You see, employers do not see their ships as 'training grounds' for wannabee's (No offence meant or implied). They want people who can "do the job". 
So how do you learn ? ...... Start at the bottom on small boats; get some quality seafaring experience; go get some quality qualifications and then throw your hat in the ring. 
Forget the commercial route - it's tough, hard work with long, long trips. It's no place to start unless you go down the Cadet/Apprentice route which will take years. I'm not aware of any commercial deck hands on 1:1 ratio except for those experienced, hard men in the oil and gas industry. With oil prices through the floor and likely to stay there for a while this is not an opening you should even be thinking about.  Good luck.

Posted: Friday, September 11, 2015 10:30 PM
Stay on yachts for your deck time untill you can get some sort of mate's ticket. I am a female in the merchant marines and it is a very rough world. I did yachts for a bit but always went back to commercial because the money is better. The money is not worth it. If you start out in commercial as a deck officer from the beginning you will have a much easier time. If you are certain you want commercial right away and you want a schedule like that, I would recommend Crowley tugs, any tug company in the Pacific Northwest/ Alaska and definetly the Alaska Marine Highway, NOAA or any research vessels. The last three options being the best. I am an unlimited engineer, working on a tug 2 weeks on, weeks off. I am the only woman who works on vessels in this company period. The only reason I am having a slightly better time than my last company is because I wear a wedding ring and tell everyone I am married. The hostility does not stop though, and I get little respect for my license. I end up answering to the deckhand about my daily activities and whereabouts.  Stay on yachts or go to research or ferries untill you get your license.
Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 10:08 AM
Joined: 13/07/2008
Posts: 32

I am a living example of commercial Captain graduated Maritime University and worked my way towards the yachting industry. After serving 6 years on commercial (container carrier) ships I tried to enter into the yachting industry and was answered my commercial experience is irrelevant to the yachting industry specifics which I understood. Then got an advice by yacht manning agency to try put my foot on a passenger ship as a step towards getting more relevant experience to the yachting. I did so - after 6 years commercial OOW (stand-alone watch-keeping on big commercial ships i.e. 200m+) I joined my first passenger ship in 2006 back down in rank (new industry) to work my way towards the yachts, then got another Ro-Ro Pax ship contract after which I managed to put my foot on my first Motor Yacht (Voila!).

To me commercial fleet gave me a clear way to build up my certificate from OOW (back then it was 3rd Officer then 2nd Officer of Watch) up through Chief Officer to commercial Captain's unlimited license.

Ever since I found yachting industry more attractive to me in many ways and stayed in it. So in short it took me 8 years to build up my ticket from commercial OOW up to Master's license. Even passed MCA UKLAP (Maritime Law) before MCA Inspector in Antibes to get my MCA CeC (acknowledgement of my Master's license under UK flags).

So it took me a long way, money and efforts to get into the yachting industry and captain a Mega Motor Yacht now. My Master's degree in Navigation and commercial experience gave me a lot of confidence to find out a fraction of my commercial level knowledge and experience was needed in my yachting captaincy. Nevertheless I have been in both and can confidently say I would never come back to commercial ships.

I observe a big inflow from commercial (passenger) ships into the yachting industry, never the opposite - I never knew a single friend or colleague of mine going the other way: from yachting to commercial (for many reasons).

Also believe me being a female in commercial fleet (other than passenger ships) is very hard task for a few reasons: most cases you will appear to be alone among wolves and also as mentioned above physically hard job and isolation on those long (trans-Pacific) voyages is harder for women to withstand.

My advice is to avoid learning from a bitter experience and stay in yachting industry which i more suitable for females and much more rewarding in many aspects.

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