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  • "Menial" tasks as a cadet

    I was wondering something. As I understand it, Cadets are given alot of tasks that could be considered menial ie: painting, cleaning, chipping etc. I've never been afraid of a little hard work but I would like to be fully prepared for what's in store. Could any officers or cadets past and present shed a little more light on some of the less than glamorous parts of being a cadet at sea? What kinds of jobs do you do? What are the biggest challenges? And, as a qualified officer, do you still find yourself doing these jobs or do you fall into more a supervisory role? Most importantly, is it as tedious as, say, working on an assembally line or flipping burgers?

  • #2
    Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

    When you get to college and possibly when you first get on board a ship, you may well be told "You are not even ****, you are lower than shark ****". Just take it on the chin and don't, whatever you do, take it personally. Yes, cadets are given **** jobs to start with, though I'd be very careful when you call them menial- the crew do those jobs all day every day and will NOT appreciate a gadet (yes you will very likely be called 'gadet') thinking that they're above this kind of thing because they're a trainee officer.
    Cadets are given the **** jobs first for several reasons-
    a) they don't know you and therefore aren't going to entrust you with stuff that you might fack up
    b) one day you will be handing these jobs out and you will need to know- how to do it, how long it takes, and how difficult it is. Ever heard the phrase "never ask someone to do what you wouldn't be willing to do"? If crew think you don't know how to a job you're asking then to do they will ask you to show them. They ain't stupid!
    c) you need to earn your respect, with the crew as well as the officers, if you get on with the job in hand with a positive attitude then things will go well for you and you'll be accapted and given more interesting stuff to do.
    Have a read of my first few blog entries from last summer if you want a more detailed idea of what **** jobs you might get on a cruise ship.http://size4riggerboots.blogspot.com...ys-on-qm2.html http://size4riggerboots.blogspot.com...stavanger.html etc
    If you end up on tanker or cargo vessel, you'll be cleaning out tanks!!

    As a qualified officer, you won't be doing the **** jobs (although if you're a small crew on a big ship you may well have to chip in) everyone has to go through it though, it's not a tedius as flipping burgers either- you're getting to see new places and will get given different jobs over time (a month or so)

    Size4riggerboots

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    • #3
      Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

      This is my Karcher pressure washer. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My Karcher is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my Karcher is useless. Without my Karcher, I am useless. I must fire my Karcher true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy, who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my Karcher and myself are defenders of my country, we are the masters of our enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.

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      • #4
        Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

        :laughing-rolling:

        Size4riggerboots

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        • #5
          Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

          You?ll be spending a lot of your time onboard, especially your first sea phase doing these vital tasks. Expect to get very aquatinted with various paints, primers, mops, brushes, rust remover and chipping hammers, as to repeat size4 you will in the future be in charge of handing out these jobs and how can you expect to be able to supervise people if you have never done it yourself?

          You?ll also depending upon your chief officer probably spend some time down in the tanks performing inspections - since this is ultimately the chief officers job, you can guarantee that if (s)he has to inspect a sewage tank, as a cadet, you?ll be getting dragged down there too!

          If your on a pax ship chances are you?ll spend some time down in the garbage room sorting through the garbage, disposing of food waste overboard and incinerating other stuff - not to mention hours on end each month checking lifeboat equipment and changing water in the tanks. Again, this is the deck officers responsibility so you will have to know how it should be done!

          As for whether you find yourself doing them as a qualified officer... that would depend on the ship you are on... most likely if your a 4th officer on a large cruise ship then yes, you will find yourself running around checking LSA equipment. But generally as a 3rd or 2nd officer you would normally be mainly bridge related (or cargo if on a cargo ship).

          It?s not all glamourous standing on the bridge with sunglasses staring out the windows
          ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.?

          ? Mark Twain
          myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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          • #6
            Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

            There is no such thing as a menial task. If the Galley boy does not do his job well, expect an outbreak of serious gastric infection within days. Cunard insisted on apprentices starting at the very bottom of the ladder, and all bilge diving, tank cleaning, and chipping and painting gave us a better understanding of ship construction than any text books. I have, on occasion had to go down on deck and show deckies how to splice properly and safely. I was taught by some of the best Liverpool sailors and bosuns, some 50 years ago, and still splice my own lines. You will be found out so soon if you attempt to "Fake it", and do not know what you are about. Take all these tasks as an extemely important embarkation on becoming a knowledable and reliable Officer. Respect is a two way street. To earn it, you have to show it. Never look down on your crew and their work. Your life depends on them when you sleep!

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            • #7
              Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

              If a company takes you on with the idea that you will be an officer for them some day it stands to reason that they are unlikely to tell you to do tasks for no real reason. I can very much see why they get you to do more menial tasks at first. Some people where I work at the moment have no real idea of what the job we do entails so when issues come up they can't relate to them as well.

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              • #8
                Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                One thing to be wary of is the possibility for less scrupulous companies/Masters to view cadets as cheap labour rather than trainees. I haven't heard of this happening recently, but I have heard of it in the past. For a company that doesn't intend to employ you as an officer, do you provide better immediate and direct value doubling up with the OOW or as an extra hand on deck...? :naughty:

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                • #9
                  Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                  Originally posted by Steve
                  One thing to be wary of is the possibility for less scrupulous companies/Masters to view cadets as cheap labour rather than trainees. I haven't heard of this happening recently, but I have heard of it in the past. For a company that doesn't intend to employ you as an officer, do you provide better immediate and direct value doubling up with the OOW or as an extra hand on deck...? :naughty:
                  In other words it's best to go with a reputable company.

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                  • #10
                    Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                    Originally posted by Andy_S
                    In other words it's best to go with a reputable company.
                    Depends how much choice you have. If you apply to one of the big training companies like Clyde Marine you don't really have a say as to which of their client companies actually sponsors you and whose ships you'll sail on. Some of them don't employ British officers so you're of no use to them once you are no longer a tonnage-tax compliant cadet. One of CMT's biggest clients when I was a cadet did not employ British officers and a cadet assigned to them could find him/herself the only native English speaker onboard. Could still be that way for all I know.

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                    • #11
                      Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                      That happened to a mate of mine, he works for Bibby.

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                      • #12
                        Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                        Originally posted by size4riggerboots
                        That happened to a mate of mine, he works for Bibby.
                        Employed on deck to the detriment of his training or the only native English speaker onboard?

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                        • #13
                          Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                          Only native english speaker. But several of the people on my course found it difficult to get much bridge time. Personally I never felt like I was being used for jobs they couldn't find anyone else to do, (Apart from the day we had to clean low-location-photoluminescent-strips in the crew alleyways, everyone who came past laughed their heads off because they couldn't believe someone had made us do it. To be fair, it was just a job to get us out of the way cos they couldn't think of anything else for us to do. I think we did one out of 22 stairwells and half an alleyway) That was phase 2, so we needed to get most of the deck stuff out of the way first anyway, but...

                          Mainly I found a lot of older officers still haven't come across the FD much and so don't really get the idea that we've done 5 months at college before getting on a ship and have serious chunks of coursework to do, a lot of which needs to be based on bridge stuff we do and see. I was told on more than one occasion-"Oh it's your first trip, you don't need to go near the bridge!" Which would be true if I'd just done 6 weeks at college and was doing a 2 or three month trip before going back.

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                          • #14
                            Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                            Originally posted by size4riggerboots
                            (Apart from the day we had to clean low-location-photoluminescent-strips in the crew alleyways, everyone who came past laughed their heads off because they couldn't believe someone had made us do it. To be fair, it was just a job to get us out of the way cos they couldn't think of anything else for us to do. I think we did one out of 22 stairwells and half an alleyway)
                            At least you were only sent to clean them, unlike the RFA cadet who was sent to recharge them with a torch. Eventually someone suggested to him that it was more efficient to use a camera flash, so the Chief Engineer's camera was duly obtained for the purpose. After about a week someone gave the game away. He was not terribly chuffed.

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                            • #15
                              Re: "Menial" tasks as a cadet

                              :laughing-rolling: He didn't realise, even after a week?! Some people are so special...

                              We shouldn't give all the good ones away on here though, it's a rite of passage all should go through

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