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Hello one and all!!!

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  • Hello one and all!!!

    Hey guys,

    I'm new to the forum and am in need of some advice.

    I spent 8yrs in the RN as a Stoker and left in 2004 to start a family. I have always dreamed of going back to sea. I am considering applying for a scholarship to become a deck officer. I am fully aware of the time away from home and the strain it can put on the family, and I have read the careers advisors literature telling me how great everything will be. What I want to know is peoples opinions (good & bad) about everything from training to time off and salary to the different ships.

    I know this is a big ask, but as you are aware this is a big decision and I need to go forward with my eyes wide open.

    Cheers in advance

  • #2
    Hi Mem, and welcome

    I guess if you've already been at sea you know the good bits really, though it does depend on the ship/company, in general I'd reckon that life on a MN ship is less regimented than an RN ship, but never having sailed on one I can't really promise that! Plus as a deck officer you get to see some stunning sunrises/sunsets and pretty wildlife occasionally, (although you'll probably see more **** weather than anything!) Not sure what the leave ratio is like in the RN but in the MN it varies from time for time to 4 on 2 off. Whether that's weeks or months depends on who you're working for and where. As a junior officer you're more likely to get the 4 on 2 off option and as you progress up the ranks it gets better. Pay as a qualified officer is better on cargo/standby etc than it is on cruise ships, but on the other hand on cruise ships there are other perks, like getting to go for a drinky in the passie areas, eat in their restaurants (sometimes, and you have to host a table, so make sure you have plenty of tales to regale them with!) Although you do have to be in uniform for all that

    As a cadet, the pay is no way near the salary they lure you in with the promise of as a qualified officer. Again, it varies from company to company, but if you are looking to support your family on it for three years, you'd struggle. Really struggle. However, your company is paying for all your training costs, which I don't have a figure for, but it's a massive whack I assure you! I do believe our pay is pretty fair though, how many other students get paid to study? Also, as a cadet, you won't get much leave. You spend a few months at college and then go off on your first sea phase, then it's back to college and then back to sea etc, depending on whether you're doing the FD or HNC these phases vary in length. At college, you get a couple of weeks at xmas, a couple of weeks at Easter and 3 or 4 weeks in the summer off, but that only applies when you're in college, when on you sea phase your leave will be according to your contract, in my case it was 1 weeks leave for each month at sea, but this doesn't come in nice chunks: you might find yourself hanging about for 3 or 5 or more weeks waiting to be told when you're joining a ship, and then you're on there for anything from a few weeks to several months. Then you're hanging around again, waiting for the call. You'll probably get more leave than your contract stipulates, but you can't plan anything because you won't know how long you'll have each time. For special circumstances, and with A LOT of advance notice (i.e. over a year) your company might agree to give you leave at a particular time, but they're not obliged to.

    Training... well, most cadets seem to think they're being overstretched/treated like idiots/not given enough support/treated like children..... As someone right at the end of the course though (and having been through all of those above) I have to say Fleetwood have been pretty good, as you go through the college phases you start to see things differently, and as you come back from sea with a more focused attitude and understanding of WHY some of the **** they're telling you is important ACTUALLY is important they treat you less like an idiot and more like a young officer (I LOVE being called young btw, I turn 30 in March!) The shipboard training seems to vary a lot, I've been on lots of different types of ships with different companies because I'm with Trinity House so have experienced a range from these-guys-are-****-hot-brilliant, to the all-I-learnt-on-this-ship-was-what-NOT-to-do. But it's all been good experience.

    Are you thinking deep sea or local? Ferries are great jobs for people with families as you get short trips (and short leave periods). Can't think of anything else to ramble about now, hope that helps!


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    • #3
      Thanks Rigger,

      That was really inciteful. I'm thinking more if bigger ships/longer trips as part of the reason for applying is to see a bit more of the world (I was to busy getting drunk to appreciate it last time round).

      I do have a couple more questions if you or anyone else could help.

      1) I've read on the forum that being older than the average cadet isn't a problem (I'm 32) so I can't be the only to have ever tried to support a family whilst going through training. Is it possible to work while you study? Obviously not through the sea phases, but if I was at college in the northwest is it possible to live at home and work in the evenings and weekends?

      2) I understand different ships have different facilities but what standard of accommodation can I expect in board ship? Is it a mess type or individual cabins? Also, do ships have wifi onboard for communicating with family?

      3) Whilst in training, how is salary paid? Is it generally on a weekly basis or monthly?

      If anyone can answer these questions I would be extremely grateful.



      • #4
        1) no idea (sorry) but you might be eligable for various benefits etc, but it wont be pretty. As for evenings and weekends, it might be possible BUT you have to find an employer who is happy about it, additionally the work load can become quite high, so might make things stressfull.

        2) Normally cabins, occasionally shared (2 cadets per cabin) but that is ship / company dependant. Ditto the actual standard of living space and erm ditto Wi-Fi (wow I'm *really* helping arent I!)

        3) Normally monthly OR 28day (which is close to monthly!)

        As for being 32 that no age to be starting, sailed with 38yo cadets and know of some even older, the age spread these days is HUGE

        Oh and welcome / good luck
        Trust me I'm a Chief.

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        • #5
          Hi and welcome. S4 and Cheify have covered eveything, just one thing to chip in. If you haven't been in higher education before, you may be eligible for student finance. The loan and grant can be anywhere up to ?7,000 extra per year, depending on your circumstances. Some courses aren't eleigible, and some are only eligible at certain stages (e.g. not for phase one, but from phase three on). Worth looking into, though. The loan does of course have to be paid back; you'd leave with perhaps up ?12,000 worth of borrowing, but this collected quite humanely by the government. The current system is something like 9% of your earnings over ?15,000 as repayments, though I believe this is changing and the threshold may even be higher.

          With your RN experience, you might consider the RFA? They pay really quite well and it's in the same sort of line of work.

          My opinion? I'm a phase 3 deck cadet, and I am absolutely loving it. I had a great time at sea, the work is challenging but not impossible and I've seen some really amazing things. Have a look at my blog (and size4's too) - mine's a bit behind at the minute but updates will come soon!

          Do your research - if it suits you and you can manage financially then go for it. No point regretting it!
          Hello! I'm Chris. I'm away a lot so I'm sorry if it takes me a while to reply to messages, but I promise I'll get back to everyone. If it's urgent, please email me directly at [email protected].

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          • #6
            Originally posted by CharlieDelta View Post
            With your RN experience, you might consider the RFA? They pay really quite well and it's in the same sort of line of work.
            Nooo, not the RFA, you're travelling the world aspirations will stop in Portsmouth, Portland, Plymouth (any British port starting with a P). Although I have seen the Fort Vic mooching around the piracy waters.