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  • The first few weeks are always the hardest

    Having just joining a vessel as a cadet (not my first trip I should add), I'm finding it tough to keep up the pace onboard. I can't help but think i've got another 4 months plus of this which freaks me out a tad. Would others agree with me that the first few weeks are always the hardest? I could just do with some uplifting words from others who have been in the situation.

  • #2
    It's true, those first few weeks on a new ship are bemusing, confusing and long and the prospect of repeating the same amount of time that you've been there several times over is daunting. It will get easier; you'll get into the swing of routines, hopefully make some friends (even if they're not the kind of people you'd choose to hang out with at home, make the effort, chat sh1t with them, socialise, do kareoke if you have to!) and you'll find that time has suddenly flown, and you're on the countdown to going home. Admittedly, as soon as you reach the last month, time slows down again as you look forward to your pay off date. Meanwhile, work hard, get tasks signed off, write reports, take photos... make every effort you can to get involved and show the crew and officers that you want to learn, and keeping busy makes the time go faster.

    I know exactly how you feel, hang in there
    Last edited by size4riggerboots; 8 March 2013, 02:05 PM. Reason: spelling :)

    Size4riggerboots

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    • #3
      Aye, I'd say the first two weeks were the hardest for me whenever I joined a new vessel, however I did shortly get into a routine and then things were great!
      I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

      All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.

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      • #4
        Aye, I've found that all the new machinery is a bit daunting 'till you realise that the only difference is the brand or layout or whatever and it's all basically the same (that is, until they throw in something like a turbo-alternator!). The old man on the last ship I was on said they used to do 12 week trips with Nedlloyd as the office thought the first 2 weeks were wasted familiarising and the last 1-2 weeks wasted waiting to get home. So they aimed for 8 weeks solid work. Whether or not this is true is up for debate but at least it shows management expect a bit of time at the start to get used to things.

        (N.B. Anyone I've ever met who worked for Nedlloyd seemed to love them more than I love lighthouses, which is a lot. So what he said can probably be taken with a pinch of salt!)

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        • #5
          I'll be honest, about half way through my first trip at sea I vowed that it would be my last trip and I've never return. Towards the end things started to get a little better, and after I'd gone home I was given some advice that the next trip would be better, and it was infinitely better and 10 years later I'm still enjoying being at sea. You have good trips, you had bad trips, but the great aspect with this job is that you can easily change ship at any time.

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          • #6
            There is something else here. (And I am making some assumptions)

            1) If you have not been in a working environment before, i.e. you were a student you are not used to the workload

            2) 7 days a week, albeit that you may get a Sunday or a half day for study, is again new to you all

            3) Everyone remembers going to the seaside and sleeping well. You are in a marine environment with some hard physical work, brain strain and fresh air.

            4) If you are between 17 and 24 then you will always be in the race for the "Golden Blanket" award. BY that I mean you seem to work, eat and then just sleep. This is worse for men than women, because the women mature earlier, but it affects all young people. Chief Stewards in my day used to say that cadets were the bain of their life. Always getting into trouble with room inspections, never out of their pits, so bedding went to the laundry black as coal, and they would eat the ship out of everything. The Suez Mess, which always had a fridge with food in, was always full of cadets looking for scran. Don't forget we sometimes had up to 6 cadets on a ship which used to make the Chief Steward break out in a sweat when we turned up on the dock.

            5) You are away from home and full of trepidation. You may also be feeling early signs of seasickness, which in it's mildest form makes you feel sleepy.

            All in all the odds are against you being bright eyed and bushy tailed. Dig deep, get stuck in, sleep it off when you can and remember that it gets better. By my phase 5 I volunteered to do a double header (6.5 months) on a ship. Something I would not have considered on my first sea phase.

            Hang in there.....

            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.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hatchorder View Post
              4) If you are between 17 and 24 then you will always be in the race for the "Golden Blanket" award. BY that I mean you seem to work, eat and then just sleep. This is worse for men than women, because the women mature earlier, but it affects all young people. Chief Stewards in my day used to say that cadets were the bain of their life. Always getting into trouble with room inspections, never out of their pits, so bedding went to the laundry black as coal, and they would eat the ship out of everything. The Suez Mess, which always had a fridge with food in, was always full of cadets looking for scran. Don't forget we sometimes had up to 6 cadets on a ship which used to make the Chief Steward break out in a sweat when we turned up on the dock.
              This was me, I used to sleep during every smoko and lunch hour, and struggled to wake up in a morning. Now I'm lucky if I can actually get some sleep at night... How I wish I could just sleep like that again.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                Having just joining a vessel as a cadet (not my first trip I should add), I'm finding it tough to keep up the pace onboard. I can't help but think i've got another 4 months plus of this which freaks me out a tad. Would others agree with me that the first few weeks are always the hardest? I could just do with some uplifting words from others who have been in the situation.
                Did you feel the same on your first ship / enjoy your first ship?

                I had a similar problem - when I joined my first ship everything was new and exciting and busy so although I was there for 6.5 months in one go - I never really felt that homesick / depressed - sure there were moments lasting a few days (which everyone gets) but I think the newness did a lot for avoiding it.

                In contrast, I then joined my second ship (after 10 months at college) and in all honesty I hated it for the first month or two - not so much homesickness - but the fact it was "different" - in the end when I came to leave it 4 months later it turned out to be the first (and only ship) I was genuinely sad to leave (Before GM starts - I am not a big girls blouse!) and I still keep in touch with friends I made there!

                My "third ship" I joined after a month at home, it was actually the same one as my first ship and although I had an amazing time there the first time I was onboard. For the first few weeks I was back onboard it kind of sucked - but eventually I had an awesome time...

                Since qualifying I have only been on two ships, with two different companies (although several trips on each) and each time I join I go through, for lack of a better description, a stage of depression that lasts for a couple of days / weeks while I adjust back into things.

                I think as people, subconsciously, our bodies / minds don't like changes - so when you have left a ship, even for a month and then return things will have changed; whether it be your watch, responsibilities or the people onboard... Eventually you do adjust back into a routine and things tend to get better.

                The one piece of advice I can give you is don't sit in your cabin alone watching films / reading / sleeping - try and socialise even if its just sitting around chatting **** (as s4 mentioned above), spending all your time working / sleeping will only make it worse! If you can't find anyone go annoy the watch keepers - I can assure you they will be glad to have someone to talk to during their watch!

                Whatever you do try and not compare it to constantly to your last / first ship - everyone does do this at some point - but it doesn't help and will eventually piss people off if you keep saying "on my last ship we did x"

                Stick at it and certainly don't make any hasty decisions - I know many people who have joined a ship and after a few weeks packed it in only to regret it!
                ?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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                • #9
                  I still find that when I first join a new ship I am absolutely knackered for the first couple of weeks.

                  It's not so much coming back to sea after leave (but that doesn't help), but when you join a new ship you tend to be following people around all over the place, so as well as your brain being in overdrive trying to take in lots of information you are climbing up and down stairs and ladders.

                  If you are working watches then the problem is even worse as you get used to a new sleep pattern.

                  Once things become more familiar and you feel more comfortable in the surroundings as well as having done all the following people around every 5 minutes to go and see something new then it will get better.

                  Hope you have a good trip.
                  Go out, do stuff

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                  • #10
                    Familarise yourself with your surroundings, know what duties are expected of you, keep your personal goals of what to achieve on board in mind, establish a sleeping pattern as soon as you can, develop a decent relationship with the officers, crew and captain by being friendly, hardworking and willing to learn- REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE ON BOARD!

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                    • #11
                      It always takes a bit of time to adjust from ?land mode?to ?sea mode?and when you?re first onboard it takes a while to figure out how you fit in to your surroundings and get into it. My first week at sea (well tied alongside if truth be told) was great, followed by crew change and a really sucky mean crew replacing them a week later, but after a while you figure them and the boat out and they figure you out. Stick it out just a bit longer, it can be tough but don?t be afraid to ask for help and I always find food/bad movies/music from home are great for cheering you up on a bad day, sometimes it?s nice to socialise but don?t be afraid to take a few hours for yourself as well. I?m sure you?ll surprise yourself, takes a wee while to get into the swing of things.

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                      • #12
                        We have all been there - its utter gash when you first join but after the first few weeks you get into it and before you know it you have got your flight details and are heading home.

                        The worst I always found was at the airport, sitting at LHR surrounded by holiday makers when you are going back to work is not a happy time.

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                        • #13
                          @ OP, how are things going, are you feeling any less knackered?
                          Go out, do stuff

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