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  • Ferries

    Just out of curiosity does anybody on here work on ferries?

    Was talking a guy when I was doing a course recently who had worked on Stena Line Irish sea and it sounded very appealing.

    The work , leave and pay was all better than I had previously thought.

  • #2
    I've only been a cadet on them but this is generally how the officers on my ferries had it (I was with a big British company who sails on the Irish/North Sea and English Channel...).

    The pay has recently been lowered for junior officers but everyone at higher ranks retained their wage. They were only tax free if their vessel was lucky enough to be out of the UK at midnight (one of my ships was tax free, one wasn't), I could guess that maybe 30% of our ships were in the UK at midnight. The ratio was 1 week on 1 week off on the English channel and North Sea, 2 weeks on 2 weeks off on the Irish Sea. The deck and engineering officers did 12 hours on 12 hours off on both ships... most of the ships have a day or evening once per week where they don't sail to get work done/if there isn't enough trade (Saturday nights we were laid up on one, every night we were laid up on the other). Food was good because obviously the galleys and chefs are a litttttttle bit better than cargo ships. The junior deck officers seem to share their duties (one sometimes on mooring, sometimes on car decks, sometimes driving, sometimes doing safeties). The crews are big; usually two captains, one chief officer, three or four junior deck officers, fifteen odd AB's, two or three cadets (across all departments). The crews are very professional and standards are highly important, the captains enforce this. The life aboard isn't a social one, it's eat sleep work. You get cheap stuff (tobacco, chocolate, lucozade etc.) from the ship's shop... although lager is still cheaper when Asda has it on offer (it always has it on offer).... you get Coca Cola dispensers (Pepsi if you're unlucky) all over the crew areas.... Crew are mostly western European and usually have a much higher ticket than the rank they sail in, but there were a few watchkeepers with watchkeeper tickets who had previously worked as AB's/Motormen. Pay seems to be roughly around 55k for the most senior officers, 23k for fresh from cadet officers and 26-35k for junior officers with experience. Most guys have worked for most other ferry companies... I think once you're in you're in for life. You get 3 weeks holiday per year (I've heard this from my company and another) which means three times a year you get three weeks off rather than one week off (your normal week off - your holiday week off - your extra week off while the alternative crew are sailing). You sail with the same crew every week, A or B watch, you will hate the other watch and they will hate you... but you only see them on your weekly handover. Every ship has a scouse 2nd Engineer and a Scottish Chief Engineer.

    That's your run down... some relevant, some not... but only the views of a cadet who spies on officers in one company and one company only. All in all... I think the ferries seem a pretty cushty kind of job, I'd be VERY lucky and happy if they offered me a post-cadetship 4EO contract.


    • #3
      I suppose it's a happy medium between being ashore and being at sea. Must be really boring for a Deck Officer though, but any more boring that working on any fixed run.... probably not.
      Cruise ship Captain with experience on-board Passenger Vessels ranging from 5500-150000 GRT.


      • #4
        Most of the TH cadets spend time on ferries for a bit, think s4 did one of our freight ferries.
        Not that I know anything about these things but I would have thought it would be interesting lots of traffic things happening etc, where as out there doing deep sea there can't be that much that goes on to look at for long periods!
        No doubt it's a marmite thing again.....


        • #5
          Originally posted by HolyNougat View Post
          Must be really boring for a Deck Officer though, but any more boring that working on any fixed run.... probably not.
          Last year I met a 2/O on the Liverpool-Isle of Man ferry and asked him the same question. He said that it is the opposite, because most ferries operate in very busy seas you are always running around doing something, plus you get lots of maneuvering at each end to line up with your berth.

          He seemed to love the job.


          • #6
            My first ship was a calmac ferry. I had a very good time. All the crew were brittish and they were all friendly and helpful. I think it would be a very good job but vacancies are few and far between. As said before the pay is better because tax has to paid so it pretty much canceled out.


            • #7
              Most of the Calmac jobs tend to be retirement jobs and what not, so it is, literally, dead man's shoes or it was when I was kicking about there.

              To be honest, it's horses for courses, I know I'd go insane working on a UK ferry whereas I know folks who get a bit squirrely if the ship actually leaves sight of land....
              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.


              • #8
                I spent my entire cadetship on ferries, and one thing I will say is that the routine of it is a double edged sword.

                On one hand, you have the comfort of knowing that every time you come into port, you know exactly where you're going and what you're doing. You know the situation on the mooring stations, positioning of the ramp, situation on the bridge and such. Whilst at sea, you know more often than not what time you're going to expect certain vessels where, particularly other ferries. I remember being on a run once where we would always meet other ferries at Bahama Banks to the North of the Isle of Man, and that was a bloody nuisance.

                Whilst the routine is nice to an extent however, the fact it is constantly the same does make it go a bit stale at times. I was lucky in so much as I ended up being on a lot of DFDS charters running around the Baltic and North Sea to Mainland Europe, so it broke up the normal Irish Sea run and thereafter, I really did not want to go back to the usual slog of 8 hour crossings back and forward.

                I take the view that unless you try you will never know but, overall, even though I really do like ferries (mainly for the purposes of ship handling in the long run when you get up the ladder), I am not sure whether I want to spend the early part of my career on them. It is something that I would probably prefer to go back to at a later stage. Having said that, if someone offered me prospects of a long term job on them I would seriously consider it. One thing which I would snap someone's hand off for would be for "cruise ferry" type crossings of 24 hours; for me, the combination of short contracts, routine, and a longer crossing than normal were fantastic.

                A lot of how you perceive the ferry industry will come down to what you are used to, Ie, if you experienced deep sea and really enjoyed it, then ferries may come as a bit of a shock. The same could be said if I were to go deep sea.

                Kind Regards,


                • #9
                  Having switched from deep-sea to ferry work, I can see the attraction of both. I had always thought ferry work would be dull, but honestly, its is _way_ more interesting than repetitive deep-sea watches.

                  OK, I only go the same places every day now, but to be honest since I finished my cadetship I haven't really 'been' anywhere. I can count on one hand how many times I went ashore in quite a few years deep sea.