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post #1 of 7 Old 10-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Advice Needed from Older Sailors

I often browse the forums but have decided to sign up hoping to get advice from some of the older sailors on this board.

I am a twenty years old and currently in the process of looking for the right path in life right now. My dream is to one day own a boat of my own to cruise as I like but I realize that is a long way off and will take dedication and hard work to achieve but I know it is something worth living for.

The past two years I spent on and off doing general studies at a university due to a short term scholarship. I learned what I did not want to spend my life doing in the time and was able to even do some solo travel across the Atlantic. It was off the southern coast of France watching all the beautiful sails in the Mediterranean when I realized what I wanted.

Ideally I am starting the search for a good boating/sailing city to get a start in. I know times are difficult for many but there has to be demand out there for young and intelligent men who want to start learning a trade that can be useful in maritime. I would love to find a more technical school that deals with small boats that could help me get a foot in a door at a marina and eventually onto a deck. I am from the gulf coast so I have considered looking into either Texas or Florida. If anyone knows of a good region with a nearby school it would help me tremendously. Similar experiences or advice is welcome as well! Thanks.
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post #2 of 7 Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Advice Needed from Older Sailors

I guess I qualify as one of those.." Older" sailors.

So, I'll give it a try. My 1st thought, is to suggest that you continue your studies and keep working toward getting at least a bachelors degree. I anticipate that some folks may tell you that you can make just as good a living learning a trade. Rather than debate that, I'll simply suggest that a college degree will never hurt you. And that you can have both..a degree and a trade. While going to school you could work at a marina or in the boating industry and begin your networking in that world. Establishing your work ethic and reliability, building relationships and networking as much as you can will pay dividends..down the road.

There are lots of ways to get into the boating industry..but since you said that you want to be on the " deck" Have You considered the Coast Guard..the Naval..or the Merchant Marine Academies...? Very competitive but something worth considering.

You can also enlist and learn a skill/trade that way, getting paid as you go.

If you want to be in the marine industry: Schools: Maritime Schools

If the services are not your cup of tea, I'd start finding a way to get on boats learning and gaining sea time and start working toward licensure.

As far as other trades...there are almost too many to mention. Diesel mechanics, electrical, sailmakers, welding, diving, etc etc.

Noaa often posts civilian jobs on ships for qualified individuals as does the park services etc etc.

Life has a way of unfolding..despite our best plans. I think the best advice I can give you is to obtain the best education you can in the field you choose, network, build a solid professional reputation, build and maintain relationships...and opportunities will present themselves...

Best of luck, in whatever you decide..
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post #3 of 7 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Advice Needed from Older Sailors

I too am an "old" guy and would suggest that you get out there and do it....

I will offer some ideas next, but wanted to tell you why I say that. Life has a way of it's own, and some times it includes you, and sometimes it excludes my life I have started over 6 or 7 times from nothing/nada/zero. At 18 was going to be a pro football player, was actually pretty good...until playing a pickup game and at 20 years old shattered my right knee...3rd year electrical apprenticeship down the toilet - could no longer insure me, car gone, apt gone - my mom let me move back in till I healed and learned to walk did not speak to me for almost a year.
start #1

Started a new job in computers, was great, then got typhoid traveling for work.
Start #2

And so on till 2008, #7 I think...disabled at 54...nothing I did caused it, just the great karma gods saw me and said...

Anyway lost the boat we had bought and were living aboard and pretty much everything else, again.

So back to your OP.....while you are young, no real responsibilities, no kids, no drama....get out there and do it....You can offer your self as an apprentice in exchange for room and board or a small stipend...there are even give away boats in almost every place near the water.

As the others mentioned there are the normal ways of getting aboard. But were I you, and I was at that age...I would offer to crew the next marion/newport to bermuda race, transit the Panama canal as a line handler, offer to l help a delivery ...won't pay but you will get a room and a meal, while you are learning....and you won't have $10's of thousands in student loans when you discover what you want to really do for a living.

Down sides are you may meet a girl/guy, you may get a real job offer, you may be hungry or tired or dirty....but you will be living on your own terms....just don't forget to enjoy it and don't avoid decisions to be made or doors that are opened to you....

Best of luck

Last edited by kd3pc; 10-25-2012 at 09:13 AM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 10-25-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Advice Needed from Older Sailors

I agree that any opportunity for higher education should never be passed up but to go from my associates level to bachelors would require another two years or so and would end with me being in debt in a field of study I do not enjoy (linguistics).

I am spending some time to visit family between Louisiana and Texas before I take the next step of moving to a coastal community. Right now I am trying to decide whether Florida or Texas would be a better location to live in for getting more time out on the water with sailboats. Once I have lived in either of those states for a year or so I should be able to push for residency and gain in-state tuition to the universities or technical colleges. By then I will hopefully have a better idea of what I want to do and can start narrowing down my education path.

Thanks for the encouragement so far!
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post #5 of 7 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Advice Needed from Older Sailors

From the pratical side, you may be able to find work as a yard grunt and learn from the ground up, but going to a technical school that has a reputation for deisel mechanics, transmissions, learning to do fiberglass repairs, even trying to get an apprentis position in a sail loft may give you the opportunity you are looking for. Also would give a marketable skill if you cruise. The question is where to get the training. U.S. Navy might be one option but not with out risks, particularly not getting your choice career. Upside is $$$$ while you learn.
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post #6 of 7 Old 10-25-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Advice Needed from Older Sailors

Yeah, I am scouring the internet for what is available in each city. I will take a road trip soon to try and get a feel for each of the places and hopefully make some contacts along the way. I know a little more about the Corpus Christi to Galveston stretch but if I could start clocking more dives in I might be more marketable to work in a dive shop in Florida while I look for a school/marina. Though I really have not been further south than the Pensacola area and that was a long time ago.

As for the services my background in language study (especially Arabic) really makes it more practical that I would go into a linguist position. I would prefer to be in a more technical and hands on field on the water. But if I commit to the military I would do it for the needs of the service and not my own wants. The last thing I want is for thousands of dollars of public money to be spent on me to head off to the language institute and not to have any heart in it.
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post #7 of 7 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Advice Needed from Older Sailors

There is a school in Daytona, FL that specializes in the skills you are contemplating: WyoTech Daytona - What You Should Know
Their main campus is in Wyoming, I believe.
A friend of mine has a son about your age who has spent a few years studying diesel mechanics with WyoTech and is now in Daytona.

I'd still keep the linguistics and Arabic as a strong fall back position. I'd bet that some branch of the US military would consider your skills as a "hot property". Learn Urdu and a few other dialects and you could probably "write your own ticket", so to speak.

I wish I had learned more languages AND learned diesel mechanics as well as welding. It is nice to have skills that can't be "out sourced" to someone on another continent.

"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen

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