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What are working conditions really like?

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  • chris
    replied
    I'd like to think I work for one of the better companies out there. I have internet onboard but the officers and crew are still fairly sociable, the food is ok, and I have about the right workload. I work 6 1/2 days a week but I rarely feel fatigued.

    I definitely agree with HolyNougat that once you do the maths, seafaring can offer you more quality time at home.

    In my case, I had the office job lifestyle first before going to sea and I'd typically work a 45 hour week excluding commuting time, so it didn't leave much time for anything else in the working week, a few gym sessions or a few drinks in the pub. So it was really just weekends and 5 weeks of annual leave, I much prefer my almost 5 months a year of leave, rather than trying to cram trips into weekends.

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  • ETwhat?
    replied
    I've sailed with companies where the general feeling on board was one of having to get through it, it was also pretty lonely as there was no social life everyone stayed in cabins on the internet. other companies even without internet you don't feel isolated as the actual crew are more social which is good.

    The time away/ time off thing is hard to justify for some short trips away and short times back work well, for me I prefer having months away and then months home and at 1:1 ratio it isn't too bad. But you do miss things shows, concerts, friends If I didn't have to go back to sea I would be off next month for a holiday with friends as it is we are going alone, it wont be bad but it is different.

    the other big issue is some companies seem to believe that you should have nothing else on in your life but work and with poor ratio, call back periods, low stand by pay, and extending contracts regardless of what you want can make planning anything in advance for your time off difficult. other companies its a three month trip and that is what you will do to within days.

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  • HolyNougat
    replied
    There are two sides to the industry, the larger companies (generally, although not always) where people are given proper contracts, benefits and redress when things go wrong and the 'dark side' where you may not know who owns the ship and you certainly won't work for them - often you are working contract to contract with absolutely no benefits outside of your pay any redress and you can be fired or sent home at pretty much any time for any reason.
    I've done both and generally I prefer the freedom of being what basically amounts to 'self employed' - when you don't have any expectations of the company you are working for, you tend not to get disappointed when they spectacularly fail to live up to them.
    As for the 'Akhona Geveza' case and the male and female sexual abuse that you alluded to, this is extremely rare. I've worked at sea for a while and sure on passenger ships we had out fair share of incidents, but I would say it was much safer than working in central London or any big city.
    Don't let the perceived negatives put you off, there are lots of companies that will treat you well, give you a good rotation and enviable salary. I've had several opportunities to go and work ashore and when you sit down and do the maths, I actually get more quality time at home working at sea!

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  • The Kraken
    replied
    Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
    Please think very carefully before you start working at sea. Yes, the money can be nice, however you won't be home for very long periods of time. Your relationships will suffer and partners won't always stay with you. You miss good times with friends. However you should have a higher disposable income than your friends, you will have seen more places and had plenty of interesting experiences.

    I would very much encourage you to find a job ashore; your social life and health will be a lot better!
    Bit of a generalisation there, its a big industry and there are sectors you can work in which means you are not away for months at a time (ferry, offshore etc). I've not had any relationships suffer and I haven't missed any good times with my friends (mainly because they were too busy working in boring office jobs!)

    However, I do agree with your statement about stations, broken sleep due to stations really does affect your morale/ability to work. I've only sailed with one chief mate who gave orders not to wake up crew who had just finished watches, as there was enough deck crew onboard to handle mooring. This was absolute bliss and I could carry out work in port feeling refreshed and happy.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    I have had a vary varied time at sea. I have been on ships where I have hated every single one of them, and others where I loved them all.

    On my second trip as a cadet many years back, I was on board with a crew that hated British people. I eventually had myself sacked from the ship as I wasn't going to take anyone's disrespect. The company didn't really care about its employees but that doesn't matter as they eventually closed anyway.

    My trip after that was lovely though. Everyone got along and the work was easy.

    The worst things about being at sea are the lack of sleep, no internet and never any days off. Even on a lot of ships now there still isn't any consideration for who they call for stations. I have been on vessels with almost 30 crew members yet they still require all the deckies to be awake, even though half of them don't do any work during mooring. The ships I work on now actually think about other people, and if you are sleeping they will not call you for stations unless absolutely necessary.

    Please think very carefully before you start working at sea. Yes, the money can be nice, however you won't be home for very long periods of time. Your relationships will suffer and partners won't always stay with you. You miss good times with friends. However you should have a higher disposable income than your friends, you will have seen more places and had plenty of interesting experiences.

    I would very much encourage you to find a job ashore; your social life and health will be a lot better!

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  • Clanky
    replied
    In general I would say that going to sea can be a fantastic career, but yes, in a very small number of cases it can be an unbearable nightmare and not only because of cases like the one that you have highlighted above.

    Having said that pretty much any job can be the same.

    Working conditions vary from ship to ship and sadly in many cases depend on the nationality of the crew with Western and Aussie / NZ crews being able to demand better conditions onboard than those from poorer countries, although even that is slowly improving. If you get employed by a reputable company then the chances of being involved in incidents like the tragic case of Akhona Gerveza are minimal, but feeling isolated and lonely can be a very real issue although there are ways to deal with that.

    If you really have you heart set on a career at sea then go for it and don't let these sort of incidents deter you any more than you would stop going to watch your local football team because someone got hurt at another teams game.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest started a topic What are working conditions really like?

    What are working conditions really like?

    I've heard mixed views. I've heard it's a great job that can be good fun and make you good money....

    And I've also heard that it can be a living horror, with no support and no recourse for you to take.

    So really, how common are these incidents? With things like what happened to Akhona Geveza happening and not just to girls either, is it worth it?

    Just asking what your opinion is that you've experienced, not for an overall of the industry.

    Thanks.
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