Forging a Path: Crew Training Concerns in a Pandemic

9 September 2020 By Ted Morley
Line on dock cleat

Capt. Ted Morley was raised aboard a schooner and has made a career working on board vessels ranging from superyachts to super tankers. During his tenure at sea, he worked his way up from seaman to master. He currently holds a USCG Master’s License, Unlimited Tonnage as well as several foreign certificates. Capt. Morley actively participates in maritime advisory committees in the U.S. as well as overseas and is involved in regulatory policy review in the U.S.. 

The world has faced tremendous adversity these past six months, and the maritime industry has suffered right alongside. Those of us who make our living on the sea have seen some dramatic changes, including superyachts at the dock rather than chartering, as well as crew who are either furloughed or facing an uncertain future. It’s hard to believe all that’s happened to our industry during the pandemic. A year ago, we never would have dreamed the ensuing impact would exist, and in a year from now, we will likely be in a different place yet again.

I’ve been asked by a lot of mariners to give advice on where they should go, what they should do, and what their path ahead should look like. I do not believe in “should” nor will I “should” on someone — I believe in choice and opportunities.

Success in our careers, and in life, is about dreams, aspirations, and choices. 

Many crew are taking the time to choose what they can do to come out of these times in a better position and as a better crewmember. The French biologist Louis Pasteur, when asked about his serendipitous discoveries and advances in science, said that chance favors the prepared mind. Being prepared for opportunities and educating yourself helps determine the path ahead. Our industry needs crew: Our world is interconnected, oil and commodities will always need to move around it, and people will always want to explore it.

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions and getting advice from others, but only you can determine what path works best for you. Over a year ago, I had an OOW deck candidate talking to me about his life and how it wasn’t going where he wanted it to go. He was the son of a yacht captain and had grown up being expected to follow his dad to the wheelhouse. Only one problem — he was miserable. We talked about what he liked doing and where he gained the most personal joy and satisfaction. Since he loves to cook and always wanted to be a chef, he changed paths, went to culinary school, and is now happily working as a yacht chef.

Identify what path you want to be on and get the training that takes you there. Training is more than just a checkmark in a box or complying with a regulatory need. A good career counselor will help identify training opportunities that will work best for your individual situation.

Success in our careers, and in life, is about dreams, aspirations, and choices. Dream big, make choices that help you actualize those dreams, and enjoy what you do.

This article originally ran in the September 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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