Quit life, go sail? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Quit life, go sail?

Hello! I'e decided to take a left turn out of nursing school and am not sure of my next moves. I sailed in high school and college and in this moment where i feel more free to do anything than i ever did before, i've been considering working on boats. I have a few questions/requests for advice from y'all knowledgable folks!

What is the best way to get started? I'm looking at maritime schools, but i'd like to get my feet wet before I make a decision to do something so long term. I've looked at oceancrewlink, but I'm just not sure about what I'm even looking for. What are the different roles or different type of excursions? I guess some of my examples would be working of a cruise ship, versus a huge container ship, versus a small sail boat, versus a fishing boat. What would i be looking at as far as training for the different roles? Should I pursue my able seaman? Should i jump right in and go for my captains? What could i do differently with each? I feel like i don't know how to talk about all this, which is getting me advice from different folks that either doesnt much help me, or just ends up adding confusion.

And, very importantly, where do y'all find jobs? And, lastly, how safe of a job is this for single women? Any thoughts on this?

Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

Finish nursing school (you can get a job anywhere), Buy and live on a boat.
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

With so many possibilities you need to look off into the future. Without knowing a single thing about you, I would suggest perhaps you look for a crew position on crewed charter. You can find boats from sailboats from 50+ feet to motor yachts hundreds of feet (look for Below Decks on Bravo. Depending on the boat and the captain and crew you could learn a lot or a little. If it's a smallish yacht you'll be doing a little of everything from meal, to cleaning, watch keeping and so on. There must be agencies which place. find crew for charter yachts.

I think most sailors are cool as far as safety. Add some booze and many act out of control. But this is not worse on boats. You should feel comfortable with the crew and captain and not take a job unless you do. The one to ask is Capta. He's been doing this stuff for ages.

When I spent a lot of time in English Harbor it was loaded with crewed charter yachts of all sizes... lots of big sailing boats like Arabella. Don't know where they got their crews but it seemed they were mostly females... and I didn't hear any horror stories. Newport RI has a lot of these boats in the summer.

Cruise ships are too ugly to call home. ;-)

Good luck.
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post #4 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

I did 3 years at a Maritime Academy, Deck side. It was a tough go, no breaks. 8 months at the school, followed by 8 months straight at sea as a deck cadet, I was placed on an Iron Ore Carrier. Followed by 4 months of school, then a 4 month work placement on a chemical tanker then another 10 months of school. So it was 3 very full years.

The money was very good immediately upon graduation, but I thought the life style sucked. I sailed as a ships officer for 20 years before I pulled the plug and found something else to do. I had some great adventures and worked on a lot of cool ships, but most of the time it was kind of boring. At the end of your 12 hour day, you can either go to your 10x10 cabin or go to the Officers mess and watch whatever is on TV. The food was always good.

I know quite a few female Mariners, they seem to advance as well as the males.

If one of my own kids said they wanted to be a professional mariner I would discourage it. If they insisted I would tell them to join the Coast Guard. The money is not as good, but there are just so many ways to advance beyond the traditional role of deck and engine room departments for when you get tired of the lifestyle.

I wouldn't mess around with small sailboats. There is no money in it. I don't think commercial fishing would be much fun for a young lady.

Harbour type vessels can be a good option too. Ferries and assist tugs. Going home at night is awesome. I did that for my last 4 years as a seafarer.
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

The world needs more nurses.
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

Do Both, finish Nursing School, then Join the Navy. Once you finish OCS you'd enter as an Ensign.
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post #7 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

Sailnet is not the sort of place to get advice about working in the merchant marine industry or even megayacht gigs.
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

The Coast Guard hires nurses as well. Off shore Oil and Gas rigs also employ nurses.
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post #9 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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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.
Good luck.
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“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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post #10 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Quit life, go sail?

Sea time on a too small ( under 25 tons ,Canada) vessel doesn't count so good when you go for your bridge watch ticket.
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