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  • Feel like I don't know anything...

    Well I am approaching the end of my sea time, my TRB is signed off, my nav ops workbook is looking quite full but I feel like I haven't really had much practical experience at all in a lot of things. I think in total I must have about 3-4 weeks of actual time spent on passage. No cargo ops, not even weighed an anchor. Never had an opportunity to apply colregs. The whole thing feels like a waste of my time in all honesty. Some of the crews I was with were just unbelievable.. working about 30 mins a day (I am not exaggerating, just sat in the smoking room watching TV).

    All I have is theoretical knowledge and I am afraid shipping companies are going to look at my past experience and bin my application straight away because I have barely done anything in practice. The only thing I have going for me is my high grades I got because everything went online the past year so we could google the answers to exams or sit round the coffee table in the house and work together on it (big lol).

  • #2
    What type of ships were you on? I got little chance to apply colregs at sea if I'm honest myself but between simulator week and orals prep you should understand them. When you are newly qualified no captain in his right mind will leave you in heavy traffic by yourself until you have had lots of time to get the hang of it.
    As for cargo ops, I was a container cadet but haven't been anywhere near a container since I qualified. I've been on all sorts of ships and every time I have had to learn the cargo side of things from scratch.
    To be honest, as long as you can do a wee bit of LSA/ FFE stuff you'll be grand. Mostly it is just greasing, cleaning, counting **** and checking expiration dates. Most ships UK seafarers work on tend to have fairly decent Planned Maintenance Systems with instructions or similar systems.

    I'd say a lot of the stuff I learned that directly applied to practical aspects of OOW life came from the short courses in phase 5. The ECDIS course was helpful, definitely the GMDSS and simulators.
    Recruiters generally expect newly qualified officers to lack experience which may or may not be the case. But I would recommend a company like Scotline to get started as they hire NQOs and are a good place to learn.
    Best of luck anyway.

    Comment


    • #3
      Standby safety vessels.. utterly soul destroying. my company also has PSVs or multi-roles and I begged them repeatedly to put me on them, even for just one trip.

      Nope, theres a waiting list apparently. They got annoyed at me when I told them I will wait as long as I have to, telling me I must get my sea time in. Meanwhile my friend got put on a PSV for his first ship. And after that? they put him on another. It's pure luck of the draw there it seems, bull****. They should be rotating the cadets around the different types of ship so everyone gets afair chance, rather than a handful getting the best picks. I really think there should be a hard limit set by the MCA on how long cadets can spend on certain types of vessel because I would estimate 90% of the stuff I learnt has been self taught, as these ships just don't do anything. It's like being a lifeguard at an empty swimming pool. It shouldnt be the case that I have to watch youtube videos in my spare time of some 2/O showing how to do pre-departure checks/pre-arrival checks... I should be doing that. The only saving grace is that often the equipment from ship to ship is identical or near the same, plus theres always an instruction manual around. I suppose the upside is I had a lot of free time to learn COLREGs, lights and shapes etc.

      Thanks I will check out scotline later. So they hire NQOs with zero cargo experience? That almost sounds too good to be true.

      Comment


      • #4
        If you want some advice from someone who has just recently come out at the end of their Cadetship, I would say you should start looking at another Career as soon as possible. Like you, I spent alot of time on Standby vessels, and learned absolutely nothing. No experience whatsoever, just seatime. I think the reason the training is so hit and miss with Cadets nowadays is that it's a symptom of the system itself. It's broken. There's simply too many people coming in to the industry, and there has been for some time. You are just another Cadet going through the system.

        You will come out with your OOW, thinking the world is your oyster, only to be given a different title based on your experience(or lack of). The good old NQO, Newly Qualified Officer.

        Comment


        • #5
          Aye I've heard about stand by boats and how poor they are but in all honesty your experience won't be that different to some tonnage tax cadets believe it or not. The pre departure checks are easy learned and in Scotline it's quite relaxed and not like the bigger ships.

          ​​​​​​I Wouldn't say Scotline is too good to be true tho, as the money for an OOW is a lot lower than other companies, but the experience is worth it. They are always looking for people though but you just have to be immediately available and very persistent with your emails. When you go looking for work you'll definitely have more people mention them to you.

          I'd agree that the MCA need to set better standards for training on different ship types though because ultimately if you pass your orals then you should know everything but this is often not the case. But aye cargo experience I think is a bit over hyped in some ways just because it isn't really transferrable. Like if you work on Ro-pax then your container ship knowledge is completely useless for example. Then if you move to a dredger then you also have absolutely no frame of reference. Most companies are worried about bridge experience which you can get from Scotline

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Guest View Post
            If you want some advice from someone who has just recently come out at the end of their Cadetship, I would say you should start looking at another Career as soon as possible. Like you, I spent alot of time on Standby vessels, and learned absolutely nothing. No experience whatsoever, just seatime. I think the reason the training is so hit and miss with Cadets nowadays is that it's a symptom of the system itself. It's broken. There's simply too many people coming in to the industry, and there has been for some time. You are just another Cadet going through the system.

            You will come out with your OOW, thinking the world is your oyster, only to be given a different title based on your experience(or lack of). The good old NQO, Newly Qualified Officer.
            How many seafarers complete their cadetship feeling confident they’re now a competent seafarer? Probably very few.

            How many people leave their apprenticeship feeling confident they’re now a fully competent person in their trade? Probably very few.

            How many people leave their degree, even after their industry year, feeling confident they’re now fully competent in their field? Probably very few.

            How many newly qualified seafarers go from being unconfident seafarers to confident seafarers once they’re forced into the world of work? Probably all of them, assuming they find work.

            How many junior tradespeople go from being unconfident to becoming a tradesperson after gaining experience in the real world? Probably all of them, assuming they find work.

            How many graduates go from being inexperienced and unconfident in their field to become an expert and professional in their field? Probably all of them, should they find work in their field.

            My point is… the vast minority leave their training feeling confident, competent and ready to be left alone to do their job. It is totally normal to feel useless and like you know nothing as the world outside of your training years is overwhelming and daunting. We were all there as cadets and NQOs, there is only an extreme minority that leave their cadetship as captain pugwash with their sleeves rolled up ready to go and order people about on the bridge or engine room.

            Personally I qualified as an EOOW feeling like I knew nothing, I was extremely nervous when I went to my first ship as I assumed I suddenly had to be like those third engineers who seemed impossibly good at their job. In reality, I ended up like a cadet on more money; every engineer with an ounce of compassion knew me and my fellow fourth engineer were very inexperienced and we were still shown every job and given little trust to be left alone. My first qualified ship didn’t fill me with hope as I was with another fourth engineer that seemed to pick things up really quickly and it made my confidence dip. However, my next ship was amazing and things started to click and I now look at the fourth engineer from the first ship and some of my cadetship mentours and realise how bad they were as engineers. After 3 years of being qualified I was suddenly a competent engineer and had my own cadets, confidence to lead emergency situations, confidence to be left totally alone running the engine room and with that all came the enjoyment of doing the job.

            We all start off crap, if you’re not crap at your job when you’re new then your job is too easy!



            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by shackleguy View Post
              Aye I've heard about stand by boats and how poor they are but in all honesty your experience won't be that different to some tonnage tax cadets believe it or not. The pre departure checks are easy learned and in Scotline it's quite relaxed and not like the bigger ships.

              ​​​​​​I Wouldn't say Scotline is too good to be true tho, as the money for an OOW is a lot lower than other companies, but the experience is worth it. They are always looking for people though but you just have to be immediately available and very persistent with your emails. When you go looking for work you'll definitely have more people mention them to you.

              I'd agree that the MCA need to set better standards for training on different ship types though because ultimately if you pass your orals then you should know everything but this is often not the case. But aye cargo experience I think is a bit over hyped in some ways just because it isn't really transferrable. Like if you work on Ro-pax then your container ship knowledge is completely useless for example. Then if you move to a dredger then you also have absolutely no frame of reference. Most companies are worried about bridge experience which you can get from Scotline
              I dunno, it is a pretty one of a kind experience..
              Typical watch on the bridge will consist of the 2/O on his phone, browsing, doing some internet shopping. Ocassional look up every 15 mins at the radar. The C/O will be skyping with his missus on the 4-8 watch. Captain will be doing his paperwork on the bridge rather than during his off hours (this may be the case on most vessels though, no idea) or reading some crime novel.

              he 3/E will be NQO and working hard, meanwhile the 2/E hangs about in the mess eating and the C/E is in the ECR watching some DVDs on his laptop. This is why standby work is not respected in the industry and I am worried that this reputation it has will hold me back after qualifying. After all, what exactly have I been doing on these ships? Well I have become well acquainted with the library on the bridge and basically spent my time 'on watch' revising my oral prep. If we went somewhere nice then it would be more tolerable but we are in the middle of nowhere just floating about. dodging north west of the shetland islands in bad weather and not doing any sort of navigation does not a good officer make. But its a very easy, low responsibility job, and its a 1:1 leave ratio, with the £30K salary its not bad considering its probably the easiest job in the world.

              Comment


              • #8
                I’ll be honest, from your post and your academic ability I’d just get your ticket and get out if I were you.

                Unless you want to make it to senior officer level onboard the time invested after qualifying, hourly rate of pay (per working hours) moving to a company like Scotline to get experience and general onboard working conditions/hours are not worth it.

                If you are persistent/lucky with applying for shore based maritime roles after you qualify as a deckie, you can find better paying roles on land with immeasurably better conditions than as a NQO.

                However, the caveat being depending what role you apply for a ticket can not always mean that much for HR departments, who’s personnel usually comprises of people who have never stepped foot on a ship.

                As said before on this forum, companies and colleges really need to be more open with potential cadets, instead of promising the world. Every year the cadet system sounds more and more like an employment scam.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Having worked on many types of ships, including bobbing around the North sea on anchor crankers I agree that there is a gulf in experience between types of ships. On the Anchor crankers passage planning involves one of us driving the boat out of Lerwick, with the Old Man watching, and then drawing a straight line on the chart to the oilfield we were going to, just to get a compass heading! Very different to a 33 port in 90 days round the world Ro-ro ship where you had a million calculations to do unless you copied the last passage plan from the passage plan folder and re-pencilled in the plot on the charts you needed, which were all batched together for each leg of the voyage. Then to a tanker that was tramping around the Caribbean and you get an order to load bunker fuel in Maricaibo to deliver to Sint Eustatius and you have to get the Times Atlas from the Old Mans cabin to even find where it is in the world and then realise you have no charts for arrival.

                  I agree that standby boats are probably the worst for getting experience of a proper Officers job, but if you are honest when you join a ship and tell the Old Man your concerns he will be happier to hear that at the start than when he walks on the bridge and you are in the middle of a sh1tstorm with traffic all around you. As second mate on one ship we had a third mate who joined who confessed the first day he had left the sea 4.5 years ago and was now a plasterer but decided he wanted to go back to sea but had forgotten most stuff! we were horrified but the Old Man put me on the 8-12 with the third mate, put the Chief Officer on the 12-4 and did the 4-8 himself.... but we had one week to get him up to speed or he would put him ashore in the next port! He was rusty, but it did come back slowly, and he spent every spare minute reading stuff and practicing his rule of the road with me on watch and eventually we knew he was safe.

                  Just because it is the easiest job in the world does not mean it is rewarding by any other measure. So get out and find the right job. Unless you got your ticket free in a box of cocopops you will have to trust you have enough to get you by until you get confident and really know what you are doing. Be honest with those around you and grow into your new job.

                  Good luck!

                  Ian
                  "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                  "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                  "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I finished my cadetship last year having spent my entire time on standby, although with a different company to you from you're description. I actually learned far more than most of my class mates from the officers as they had more free time. Most crew on those ships these days are ex deep sea eastern Europeans and the vast majority of them if you ask them to show you stuff or test you on colregs are more than willing. Or even just ask them questions about what they did on the tankers/ bulk carriers they used to sail on. I found that it wasn't necessarily offered to me but if I asked or showed a keen interested they were very happy to show/teach me stuff - I sailed with 13 different crews as a cadet and there was always a member of bridge team willing to teach/show me.
                    On standby ships you'll see that the standard for health and safety is generally second to none in the maritime industry and if you have a look through the SMS and see the procedures put in place by the company and often the charterer it's a huge benefit for orals/written prep. The sheer number of drills is great for emergency situations in the orals. Obviously there are downsides to it but I felt like I did fairly well out of it and it definitely helped my post qualification in job interviews when it came to safety/emergency questions. I have since went on to work on a large yacht as an OOW and felt like the skills I learned on standby were actually very transferable to my surprise.

                    One thing I would suggest is if you can't get on a PSV or a multi-role standby then look at the fleet list and find the standby ship with the busiest location (ie looking after the most rigs) or if there are any operating in the southern North Sea (as there's plenty of traffic and more navigation required) and asking to go on those ships. I did trips North and West of Shetland and I definitely agree they the most boring by far.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wiggles View Post
                      I’ll be honest, from your post and your academic ability I’d just get your ticket and get out if I were you.

                      Unless you want to make it to senior officer level onboard the time invested after qualifying, hourly rate of pay (per working hours) moving to a company like Scotline to get experience and general onboard working conditions/hours are not worth it.

                      If you are persistent/lucky with applying for shore based maritime roles after you qualify as a deckie, you can find better paying roles on land with immeasurably better conditions than as a NQO.

                      However, the caveat being depending what role you apply for a ticket can not always mean that much for HR departments, who’s personnel usually comprises of people who have never stepped foot on a ship.

                      As said before on this forum, companies and colleges really need to be more open with potential cadets, instead of promising the world. Every year the cadet system sounds more and more like an employment scam.
                      I'd disagree with this completely. If you finish a ticket and leave the maritime industry you will not get a very well paid job and start at entry level minimum wage stuff. In Scotline you get 24k a year and I don't know what you are referring to when you say about the conditions. I worked on a clean ship, had my own en suite cabin and food was relatively good. We were allowed shore leave in pandemic so it is arguably better conditions than some. You'd make more money than you would ashore while gaining fantastic experience.

                      If you have the view that there is no point taking slightly lower pay to get up the career ladder then you will never succeed on land or sea because that is a self destructive attitude. I persisted as an AB for nearly a year working flat out to finally take a few terrible jobs before getting a stamp and was able then got my dream job after over a year of hard work and commitment.

                      Complaining non stop while turning your nose up at good opportunities won't get you anywhere

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm also not sure where better pay and immeasurably better conditions comes from... Having been in a land based maritime job for some time now, I absolutely concede my friends that still work at sea get more time off, and frankly have a better time when they aren't at work!

                        Pay wise yes, I have some experience under my belt at sea and now ashore, but when my friends get their Chief Mates/Master jobs they will jump over my salary and will be there for a good few years. Admittedly the salary progression is consistent and ultimately better ashore, but there are few jobs where a 20-something year old could be earning 40k+ tax free...

                        If you are jumping straight into a Maritime role ashore you'll be looking at around 30k in London, or less outside the city. Already more than the average graduate salary which Google tells me is 23,500 p/a. If you are getting caught at the HR barrier of a Marine firm - then that's just poor job application skills. Skip that level, network with the people you'd be working with and for. Demonstrate the value the CoC brings. Part of the problem here is that the type of job people commmonly want after a cadetship - broker, analyst, trader, operations, commercial - all require a bit of a savvy head on your shoulders. So most people that get those jobs do it by networking - showing a bit of initiative. Both the roles I've held ashore, neither were advertised. It is entirely typical for big maritime firms not to recruit, but to wait for people to come to them. Something that isn't abnormal in other professional industries.

                        Cadetships are often compared (in my view rightly so) to tradecraft apprenticeships. You wouldn't get your average sparky making the corporate jump with just their tickets and zero experience - so why should a cadet expect people to gold plate their CoC as soon as they have it?

                        To the OP - stick at it. Sounds like you haven't had the best experience, many people I know had pretty rotten cadetships but went on to have a great time at sea as a qualified OOW. Be brave with who you apply to work with, don't take no for an answer and you'll make it. Take a look at BAS, Marine Scotland, whoever does the English fishery protection/research boats (CEFAS Endeavour?) and try to branch out. The North Coast of Scotland is hardly exciting, but you might get to the pub every now and again which is always welcome.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by shackleguy View Post

                          I'd disagree with this completely. If you finish a ticket and leave the maritime industry you will not get a very well paid job and start at entry level minimum wage stuff. In Scotline you get 24k a year and I don't know what you are referring to when you say about the conditions. I worked on a clean ship, had my own en suite cabin and food was relatively good. We were allowed shore leave in pandemic so it is arguably better conditions than some. You'd make more money than you would ashore while gaining fantastic experience.

                          If you have the view that there is no point taking slightly lower pay to get up the career ladder then you will never succeed on land or sea because that is a self destructive attitude. I persisted as an AB for nearly a year working flat out to finally take a few terrible jobs before getting a stamp and was able then got my dream job after over a year of hard work and commitment.

                          Complaining non stop while turning your nose up at good opportunities won't get you anywhere
                          There have been roles advertised recently for VTS Officers starting at 30k, experience needed: CoC but qualified sailing experience not necessary in job advert. Another with similar requirements recently has been UK Hydrographic Office, salary ranging from £26k to mid £30s and career progression.

                          I know a few who went into VTS and enjoy it, with a gateway into supervisory and Harbour Master positions.

                          Working conditions refers to the hours of work you do, 7 days a week, for junior Officer salary when compared to a land based Maritime role. If you work out an hourly salary of £24,000 it will be about the same as someone working in a shop.

                          Thats why I said unless the op wants to make it to senior officer level (where historically the salary is more in line with the job) it isn’t worth the time invested in sailing as a 3rd/2nd Officer.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wiggles View Post

                            There have been roles advertised recently for VTS Officers starting at 30k, experience needed: CoC but qualified sailing experience not necessary in job advert. Another with similar requirements recently has been UK Hydrographic Office, salary ranging from £26k to mid £30s and career progression.

                            I know a few who went into VTS and enjoy it, with a gateway into supervisory and Harbour Master positions.

                            Working conditions refers to the hours of work you do, 7 days a week, for junior Officer salary when compared to a land based Maritime role. If you work out an hourly salary of £24,000 it will be about the same as someone working in a shop.

                            Thats why I said unless the op wants to make it to senior officer level (where historically the salary is more in line with the job) it isn’t worth the time invested in sailing as a 3rd/2nd Officer.

                            Have you actually worked at sea and on land to compare? Yes, a junior Deck OOW should be expecting to work 8 hours x 7 days minimum - but most of those hours are sitting drinking coffee... Hardly a taxing job. On land I'm expected to be working all day, and realistically in a professional job be on the end of the phone/email whenever.

                            Based on your historic posting, you seem peeved that you won't be getting 30k+ on the back of a cadetship. Wishful thinking at the best of times. Look at the similar salaries attracted by HND's...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by sailorj93 View Post


                              Have you actually worked at sea and on land to compare? Yes, a junior Deck OOW should be expecting to work 8 hours x 7 days minimum - but most of those hours are sitting drinking coffee... Hardly a taxing job. On land I'm expected to be working all day, and realistically in a professional job be on the end of the phone/email whenever.

                              Based on your historic posting, you seem peeved that you won't be getting 30k+ on the back of a cadetship. Wishful thinking at the best of times. Look at the similar salaries attracted by HND's...
                              Yes. I worked at sea qualified for a number of years and now work ashore in the industry. I’m not a NQO. Realistically on board 10 hours a day is the usual including overtime. With a lot of general cargo/near coastal and the like you’re looking at 12 hours a day (on average).

                              Compound this with standing two watches a day, which disrupts your natural circadian rhythm. Drills which fall in your rest time, inspections from various shoreside agencies etc. Is it worth £24,000 a year or the low hourly rate? Just sitting drinking coffee doesn’t even begin to cover it, and is a rather flippant comment.

                              I’m not peeved, and get paid a lot better on land than I ever did at sea (way North of £30k) I offer realistic advice to potential cadet/cadets so they can see the reality of a life at sea today, rather than be blinded by propaganda.

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