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    I am in the process of possibly booking a holiday next summer with friends and a ticket to a music festival and I know that starting a cadetship will involve me being gone possibly for months at a time. I am stating HNc Engine next month and was wondering if there is set holidays and times you are off or at college as I don't want to book up for these things also which months does the sea phase take and I know this will differ company to company but is it possible to request times you would like to be at home during a sea phase or will it just be whenever the company can fit you in.


  • #2
    The company may have possibly sent you a timetable or it maybe online for the college you are attending but I would suggest (unfortunately) that you could probably not guarantee to be off (unless you knew you were at college and it was a holiday break)

    Personally I wouldn't even ask your company about being off unless it was a super important event such as your wedding etc as sea time places are normally done at the last minute and often for varying periods of time. Also if you ask now it may be seen as an annoyance from someone who hasn't even started yet.

    I know that sounds harsh but I'm afraid this industry you can't really plan your life until you are qualified and even them it's often a challenge. Most of us have missed weddings, funerals and birthdays throughout and that's just the sacrifice you make.
    Pilotage - It's just a controlled allision


    • #3
      Also bear in mind that if you have a extended break off college during the college phase (such as the summer holidays), some companies look to send you away for these weeks to get more sea-time in.


      • #4
        Yeah I knew it would be hard to plan things in advance and I won't know my company until the first of day college :/ Do you have a general idea of what months the sea phase usually falls upon?


        • #5
          Get use to missing out!


          • #6
            the sea phase is ALL the months you arent at college, it reall IS that simple, only variation is the possible "half term" for october / easter
            Trust me I'm a Chief.

            Views expressed by me are mine and mine alone.
            Yes I work for the big blue canoe company.
            No I do not report things from here to them as they are quite able to come and read this stuff for themselves.

            Twitter:- @DeeChief


            • #7
              You might as well hear this straight: There is no point even attempting to plan this holiday. The company and cadet manager aren't interested in your holidays or friends and this is going to p*ss them off and create a pretty poor initial impression. Your sponsoring company are probably your greatest hope of first employment when you qualify: if you start off and continue like along these lines they probably aren't going to offer you a job at the end.

              Its like walking into a new job on the first day, going straight to the manager and asking for next week off! This is a BAD idea! I warn you!

              After being at sea a while you will notice everybody has some sort of 'special reason' why they need to be at home during the Summer/Christmas or close to sign off day and how they 'can't' stay any longer. Reality is most of them aren't going to do anything important when they get home and will probably just end up watching TV or something!

              As cadet you will have no life for 3 years.

              If things like this are important to you should reconsider whether this job is for you.


              • #8
                Oh dear I do think that last post was a little on the strong side for a few reasons. Sorry it is rather long.
                1. When people look at this career the information regarding college times and sea times and that it's not set in stone is not obvious, or not there at all.
                2. The vast majority of people applying are coming straight from sixth form, or at the end of GCSE therefore they will be used to school life and terms. They will also be of the opinion that they will be like other friends doing normally college uni courses expecting normal holidays.
                3. Whilst some companies might explain to their cadets during interview how it all works and what's expected, others do not.
                4. Whilst it's helpful to point out they have sadly got the wrong impression, I do feel it's better to explain how it operates and give some useful information.
                5. Perhaps a recruiter sponsor could write an article about how it all works and explain that normal life is put on hold, and what can be expected how short courses are taken etc after then end of the normal college time and fitted in before sea time, that there maybe quite a wait after college and short courses waiting for a ship to join, all of those things would I think be useful information. Then when qualified what to expect to give potential cadets an idea of what they are entering as a career.

                My cadet will miss his graduation it's this September, most likely Christmas and his 21st birthday, amongst other things but he knows that, and we will just have an extra Christmas time before or after the same with his birthday. This career does impact not only the cadet but also their close family. As a parent I think it would be useful for other parents to know this and the be able to support their offspring when they might feel they miss out by being able to arrange other times to do these things and still let the feel they are part of the family despite their absence for long periods. It might also help if they get homesick too. Mine doesn't seem to get that effected probably glad to get away!
                For instance the first year college finished in February there were short course he was home a few weeks and then off March to end of June we had hoped he might join us on holiday but he got back in the middle of it and was too knackered to bother, home a couple of weeks, then off until the day before college started. It was a rush to say the least!
                Then college till December, home back to college, back for part of Easter hols then off to do short courses then college, he wasn't here for Easter itself. Then college till May, short course then home. He was then waiting to join for about three weeks when it was rearranged several times, he got several last dinners out of it! We have no real idea when he will be back end of sept or Oct is best guess then he will be off again at some point to do the last bit. He has a short course and oral prep I think after that, but I don't know the details.
                I do know that all the colleges vary on when the short courses are done, so this is just an idea of our experience over the last two years. Of course as parents we only get to know what our cadets remember to tell us about these things too, so I also expect the oh I forgot to mention bit as well.

                i would guess the qualified amongst this forum will have ways they manage their family life too. In reality this is not your average career but more a lifestyle choice too.


                • #9
                  If you want to go to sea then you have to face the fact that it will take your life over. There are very many attractions to a sea-going life but knowing where you'll be from one week to the next and the ability to arrange your life around your job (rather than the other way round) are not among them.

                  I spent 10 years at sea. I had one Christmas at home.
                  io parlo morse


                  • #10
                    At my interviews I had to outline the process, as part of the proof you were interested enough in the career to get up and do your own research about it.

                    If they're of the opinion that it'll work the same as a conventional uni, then I'd say they haven't researched enough!


                    • #11
                      IP glad you researched well. Though the glossys handed out don't mention anything and if the questions don't get asked then it can be a surprise.
                      I have seen many posts on here asking when half term is and posts similar to this one about booking holidays etc. It wasn't that long ago someone posted a pic of a college timetable with people asking what the colours meant, which bits were holidays etc. Usually around the time the first sea phases start we get questions about how long will I be at home waiting etc.
                      Forums of all kinds help peoples research, but only if the information is in them. Further, I would go to say that if comments are not helpful then it does put people off asking questions, and in some cases I imagine it means they go away and don't come back.

                      However I would add that doing a search before asking is a good thing to do, as this topic has been asked in a similar vein before.
                      Discussion is good and if the qualified people post about their life at sea etc then that is helpful for those looking at this career to get an idea of just what it means. That's it not all going to different ports having a look around sightseeing on a shiny white cruise ship with dancing girls and boys, spas and drinks and fine dining.
                      More likely on the other end of the scale on something rusty looking, eating some strange food not always well cooked and never getting off in a port, and working shifts 24/7. With a crew of people who don't speak your language or understand your culture, with no internet or ability to contact home for very long periods, and trying to get people to understand why ticking boxes off in a TRB is important.


                      • #12
                        I agree with you midge and as someone that has helped mentor Cadets and Junior Officers before coming ashore I am aware that some are not as well informed as others prior to starting this career, hence my post was diplomatically trying say the next few years are on hold!

                        As has been mentioned I think that the mindset of academia has to be turned to the realities of (a quite harsh) working life for a majority of school leavers, and I think some view maritime college as an extension of school where it's not, you are being paid to train to eventually do a responsible job and as an employee your time is pretty much owned by the employer (just as it is for us many years down the line).

                        As as you say the recruiters and companies should possibly question candidates at interview to ensure they understand this.
                        Pilotage - It's just a controlled allision


                        • #13
                          If you're starting the HNC Engineering in September you will be at sea next summer. If you're with Clyde Marine (not sure about other companies) you're able to book time off for holidays. They look into it and see if they can easily (without disrupting your training) get you a week or whatever off where you're safe from being called to sea.

                          I've booked holidays through Clyde Marine for 5 days off in August and they just sent me to sea before August and let me come home for my holiday, then sent me to sea when I got back... but I had a company whose ships weren't all over the world so that was ok.

                          You don't get many half terms off at college but you do get Christmas/Easter/Summer holidays while in college phases. I've never heard of someone being sent to sea in college holiday unless they're actually on their sea phase. I however did get sent away over Easter this year but only because I asked (needed some stuff done at sea). Oh and you'll get bank holidays off at college too (but not at sea obviously).

                          You're definitely best off booking things last minute, and don't be afraid to ask your company when you're going to sea. Late last year I was told I wouldn't be going to sea for at least 6 weeks guaranteed, so I knew I could book a holiday 2 weeks later for a week with no troubles. Some of my friends have booked things in the hope that they'll be lucky and be off, but have been at sea. I believe he booked a Blink 182 concert or something... but was half way across the world and couldn't sell his ticket!

                          Oh and if you're doing your HNC at STC then expect lots and lots of time off in the week. Your first phase timetable is busy for 3-4 weeks but depending on your classes ability if you pass everything fast you'll soon be doing 2 day weeks (hopefully granting you long weekends).

                          Another fly in the ointment is sometimes your sponsor company or training provider plan random meetings at college (and random drug + alcohol tests). If you have a week/few days off college due to no lessons timetabled you might still need to be there for these things... I had to stay at college for an extra few weeks at the end of phase 1 (we finished 2 weeks early) because my company put a meeting on the last Friday of term... GRR.

                          That's an in-detail answer with plenty of irrelevent stuff (apologies) - take from it what you want.


                          • #14
                            Thanks that clears alot up for me


                            • #15
                              Christmas easter at college aren't necessarily holidays it's common to use this time for short courses.


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