Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
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Re: Quit life, go sail?
Working on the big ships is a rather involved process, and you don't just show up on the dock and say, "Hi, I'm here!" Go to the USCG site and check into what you'll need to get your ordinary seaman's certification which you must have and sail under before you can become an able seaman.
As far as getting your small boat captain's certification, even if you have the 360 documented days of sea time, do you really think you are, at this point, capable of being the captain on anybody's boat, even your own, and safely operating it with the owner's family aboard, or charter guests?
My wife was just beginning school for radiology when we met. She decided to go sailing first, as the profession was advancing so quickly if she even sailed only a few years after getting her radiology certification, she'd need to do a lot of the schooling over again if she decided to go back to it. It worked out pretty well for her as we are partners in a pretty successful charter business in the Windward Islands.
IMO, your best bet would be to try and get on one of the day charter tour boats in the various harbors in the US or one of the charter schooners running tours/charters in New England this coming summer. It won't be easy and you'll have lots of qualified competition, but if you show the desire, work very hard and have the heart for sailing, you could move all the way up to captain in time.
However, if you are a cook, and I mean a good cook (no need to be a chef), that is by far the easiest route to get aboard a sailing vessel. Again, it is not easy work, and you will have to consistently produce excellent meals under stressful circumstances, but that is the easiest job to get as most coming into this business want the glory jobs and can't cook well anyway. And there's nothing that says the sea time you need for a license must be as a deckhand, so you can move up using the cook's position to get into the business. I know plenty of female captains that started out in the galley. Never mind that a good cook is worth her weight in gold, aboard a private yacht or charter boat!
I don't see how a few years of sailing in your youth gives you the idea you'd be happy as one of 30 or so crew on a commercial vessel, or one of the hundreds of crew on a cruise ship, but I'd gamble that you'll have a lot more fun being a professional crew member on a sailing or power yacht.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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