Any Navy or other military occupations that have helped you prepare for living aboard - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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Almost any branch of service should help. If you've slept in a hole in the ground, or shared stink with 50 other people, it'll help with the closeness of a boat.

Whatever you choose, you will certainly appreciate it more after you've finished than while you were there.
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post #12 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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I was an AGE mechanic in the Air Force, went to school for diesel, gasoline, and turbine engines, electronics, electrical, heating, ac, hydraulics, etc... We worked on all the equipment used on the airplanes while on the ground. All those helped me a lot when we bought a boat to fix things that went wrong. My dad had been a master plumber so he taught me carpentry and plumbing which also came in very handing. Any trade you learn will help you prepare to own a boat and live aboard.
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post #13 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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US Navy Submarine Force

I was a crewmember on a fast attack submarine for 4.5 years in the '80s.

I don't liveaboard, but the Submarine Service qualification and the tour of duty that followed was a huge lesson and great preparation for cruising and living aboard. There is a limited crew of about 100 people on a 'fast boat' so everyone has to do everything. Although my training was in computers, I drove the boat, painted the boat and served as a line handler (and later foredeck supervisor) during arrival and departure.

The SS qual program requires every crewmember to understand every major and moderate system onboard. Reactor; back-up diesel; batteries; hydraulics; O2 generator; CO2 scrubber; trash disposal (hey, it's a 10" through hull fitting; it might become very important ); HP air; LP air; HVAC; everything.

I was pretty proud the day I got my own pair of submarine 'dolphins'!

Afterward, my watch station was in the control room, so I got to learn all about big boat handling (When the guy in the bridge yells, "All back emergency!" it really piques your curiousity.)

Toward the end of my tenure (after the sailing bug had bitten me) I started to qualify as Quartermaster of the Watch. I was never going to actually get qualified (I liked my bunk too much to take on extra work) but I wanted to know about navigation, so I went through the program and then started to drag my feet on the last 2 or 3 items. Once I had less than 6 months left onboard, they stopped pushing me to finish.

The poster above is correct; I hated just about everything about the Navy, but when I got out with that training and that experience, I was set for life.
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post #14 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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I was a medic in the Navy from 69 - 72 and spent 6 months on a guided missile frigate. I learned to live in small spaces. I was also a cabinet maker years later so I learned skills on how to fix things.
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post #15 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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If I had my life to do over again knowing what I know now. I probably would have joined either the Navy, and tried to be assigned to a smaller ship, (as an engine or radar tech). Or join the Coast Guard where you can just about guarantee it.

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post #16 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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S'true. In addition to steering a 210' cutter, I learned to handle boats from 19'-95', sometimes in shallow water, sometimes at sea.
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post #17 of 44 Old 10-20-2011 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Royal Canadian Artillery helped me with learning self discipline and introduced me to maps and cartography. Charts are still a passion; I collect antique charts of some of the areas I have been on the water.
what is the best place for charts. i looked some yesterday and it seems like the internet is becoming full of bull. hard to distinguish whats real and whats fake. i watched a 2 minute video of how to read a chart. I figure updated accurate charts are very important for not hitting the ground, eh? even in the waters im familiar with, i would be very nervous sailing a sailboat due to the increase in draft requirements.
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post #18 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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what is the best place for charts. i looked some yesterday and it seems like the internet is becoming full of bull. hard to distinguish whats real and whats fake. i watched a 2 minute video of how to read a chart. I figure updated accurate charts are very important for not hitting the ground, eh? even in the waters im familiar with, i would be very nervous sailing a sailboat due to the increase in draft requirements.
I assume you mean current / up to date charts. If you are in the US, NOAA offers charts free of charge and OpenCPN is a good open source chart reader.

I would also suggest taking a navigation course. The ones I teach are 8 3-hour sessions.

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post #19 of 44 Old 10-20-2011
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I took a different approach. As a kid, and now, I was nuts about being over, on, in, and under the water on anything that would float (and sometimes not).

I went to school, earned an Electrical Engineering degree and pursued anything on the water. Since then, I've logged 15,000 sea miles, mostly on Navy destroyers and cruisers as a civilian contractor. I love my job and wouldn't trade it for the world. But my observation as a lifelong sailor is that the current Navy is woefully unaware of the sea. They have virtually no feel for the water, their line handling is poor, and you may find one person on a ship that can tie a basic french spiral (woo hoo). Commercial vessels do not hold their Navy brethern's skills in high regard for a variety of valid reasons. The Navy runs ships like a bus line with firm departure and arrival dates plowing through whatever gets in the way. In other words, they're power-boaters.

There are virtually no jobs in the Navy that will prepare you for living aboard a boat (living on a destroyer is no way like living on a boat - I know). Of necessity, the Navy is all about data, computers, and weaponry. That's what they do; the sea is road upon which they travel to whatever mission they are assigned. My suggestion is to enlist, go to school, learn a job that is marketable (I'd add Fire-controlman, Radar Technician, Cryptologic tech), get out, and buy a boat that you can afford to sail. The glamor of living on a boat for pennies is a myth unless you live on a wreck (San Diego Harbor and Ala Moana Harbor in Honolulu are full of them). Even then, slip rental is still expensive.

Use the military to get an education and be proud of your service in the meantime.

Understand that I love and have high regard for the Navy, their technical ability, and ethos. But the days of rugged seamen with seaweed in their teeth are over. These are impressions of a life on the water and just my $0.02 'cause you asked.

PS. I just realized that 75% of the crew in my avatar followed the path I prescribed above. Most own their own boats or crew on others.

Sabre 38 "Victoria"

Last edited by Sabreman; 10-20-2011 at 08:04 PM.
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post #20 of 44 Old 10-22-2011
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I spent 24 yrs in the Army -- my branch was infantry, but I also did a fair amount of intel and diplomatic work when not in ground units.

I think that serving in any uniformed service could be beneficial, depending on your personality. You will gain experience in problem solving, making do in less than optimal conditions, getting along with others with whom you likely have little in common, etc, etc. You will likely gain a butt load of self confidence and learn a bunch of skills that may or may not come in handy later in life.

However, if you have a problem with others running and making decisions about your life then you probably aren't going to have the best time of it.

Given your stated goals, I think that the Coast Guard would be the best fit. You'll learn small boat handling and navigation, onboard maintenance, plus all the other stuff above.

Good luck with your decision.
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