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Old 15-10-2012, 11:24   #1
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Considering life as a deckhand

Hello all! First of all, if I'm posting in the wrong forum please let me know where to go

So anyway, I am 25 and have a love of life, experience and travel. The water has been very appealing for years now. I recently got divorced and want to move to somewhere that I can possibly get some deckhand experience. I don't have debt, bills, alimony, etc. So I don't need to make much money. My mother passed away and I have a little bit of cash from insurance but that is about it. So I would even consider working for just the experience.

My overall goal is to travel as much of the world as possible. Not entirely by water but I fantasize about the opportunity to go from port to port around the world. I understand that fantasy and reality are two different things though.

So that being said, for now I just want to learn how to be useful on a boat. I am hard working, young, ambitious, and easy to deal with. I am opinionated but keep it to myself. I don't have any vices other than golf. And I am not an ignorant person. I am open to anything new. Please let me know what I should do to help make this more of a reality. The best place to start out at? Training that is required? I am half Canadian, should I get my Canadian passport? Thanks again
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Old 15-10-2012, 12:09   #2
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

It depends on the size and type of boat you'd like to be "useful" on.

The high end requires formal training:
Superyacht careers deckhand course, megayacht deck crew course, the entry level professional level training for superyacht crews

A deckhand is a servant to the owners/quest and is a 24/7 job.
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Old 15-10-2012, 13:31   #3
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Hi Nica' Are you looking at pleasure or commercial craft? Very different way of life, pay and certification required for each. I would suggest you get your citizenship squared away first then use your inheritance to equip yourself with a marine license/certification which will require sea time. Your best bet is to start not in a big city but in a more remote marine settlement that don't have access to a qualified labor market. Once you get some experience, go after the licensing then work your way in to the commercial marine market. If you go the pleasure craft route, try and get a crewing position on a delivery or returning a race boat from a finishing port. Many times pay will be low or non-existent but at least you will gain experience. Be prepared in both cases to do the crappy jobs, stand the dark watches and live in less than superb living conditions. Have a 'do anything' attitude and don't ever stop asking questions. Much of the pleasure craft crewing is dependent on net working so stay in touch with skippers and other crewmembers you meet. There are lots of great ASA and similar courses to sign up for to fill out your sailing resume. Good luck... Phil
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Old 15-10-2012, 15:46   #4
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Start looking at getting towards one of the World ARC locations where all the circumnavigators will be heading off from. The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) leaves from Grand Canaria 25 November 2012 and from Hampton VA, USA on the 5th November for the Caribbean 1500. If that's too soon check out the routes and keep an eye on the websites for both events for crew spaces... Any sailing experience you can get in the mean time will help you get miles under your belt and sea miles are crucial to helping you get places on board.

Get down to your local marina and chat to people down there and you'll soon start to find people to go out with... A notice on the club message boards also might help people contact you if they are looking but the best way to get on board is being in the right place at the right time and that's normally by being in places where there are boats looking to head out.

Good luck on your travels
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Old 15-10-2012, 18:38   #5
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Good suggestions, frazerhalliday... P
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Old 15-10-2012, 20:55   #6
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

I do have an american passport. From the research I've done, I'm pretty sure that I could easily get my Canadian as well if it would be useful. My biggest goal is to do a transoceanic trip. How much could I expect to pay to get a good cert?
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Old 16-10-2012, 00:23   #7
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Having two passports, if you can get them, can be extra convenience sometimes because different countries charge different visa fees or entry conditions depending on your passport nationality
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Old 16-10-2012, 02:28   #8
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Certs are the way forward but given you're just starting out time on the water will be your best option... Sea miles and experience can't be taught in the classroom. The theory will come to you if you sail with experienced sailors willing to pass on their knowledge.

Focus on getting your sea miles up and keep all trips in a log. If you want RYA Yachtmaster cert you need circa 3000 miles (a lot if your only sailing locally at 5 miles an hour).

First spend time on the water and ensure it is for you before blowing loads on certs. I'm sure it will be as you sound keen but we're all different.
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Old 16-10-2012, 08:30   #9
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Nica'... unless you are planning on travelling to the Red Sea, eastern Med, China or certain slavic countries bordering on Russia, having a Canadian passport won't open many doors. While having a US passport may slow your entry in to some countries, most of those are landlocked and not an issue.
The most important issue upon which to concentrate is getting your sea time up and your certifications.
If you plan to go the commercial offshore route, I would look in to one of the Maritime Academy's such as the one in Valleo, CA. There are several others which are good on the east coast. These are 3-4 year colleges and you will come out with a 3rd either deck or engine room ticket. Deck and engine room officers hiring is handled through either MEBA (Marine Engineers Benevalent Assoc.) for engine room positions or MM&P (Masters, Mates and Pilots) for deck officers. The US bottom vessels require this certification but unfortunately the fleet is in decline so plan on going foreign if you can get a berth.
Pleasure craft certs are cheaper, quicker to aquire and limited to pleasure craft. As frazerhalliday points out, it takes time to get your sea time behind you regardless of the certification. Decky's on foreign flag commercial vessels tend to be hired from the vessels flag country or one where a deal has been cut with a labor supplier or union in one of the cheaper country sources. Even US flag vessels will man their deck needs through the cheapest experienced country's marine labor pools. I have personally hired indians, philipinos, koreans and,in the old days, japanese to handle deck duties on US flag vessels through the years primarily through unions representing these folks in their country. US deck crew have priced themselves out of the market leaving only the vessels covered by the Jones Act which dictate that travelling from US port to US port must be manned by only US crews. These are precious few opportunities, unfortunately. Good luck in your search... hope the suggestions you find in CF are helpful. I think the info I've provided is up to date but perhaps other CF contributors can correct or add if I've missed important info. It's been a while since I've been in the game. Phil
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Old 16-10-2012, 09:31   #10
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

You still haven't clarified if you are insterested in Commericial work or the Yacht industry... They are two different animals.

If you are interested in work on caargo ships or other commercial type boats then you should obtain your seamans card as soon as possible.

In the US, you can immediately obtain your entry level Ordinary Seaman Certificate from the USCG, by passing a physical and submitting the forms. As part of the process you also have to obtain your TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Card), which is used for your background check.

In the US, many deck hand jobs are union and they can help you with information and job placement. The International Boatman's Union and Seafarer's International and the International Seaman's Union are a few.

Outside the US, jobs are available, but they tend to be very low paying and have lower living standards as compared to US flagged vessels.
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Old 16-10-2012, 09:52   #11
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

I can vouch for Captain Phil's recommendation of going to Cal Maritime Academy (or another maritime academy), that is where I graduated from. Why mess around as a deck hand on a yacht making nothing more than beer money when you can get yourself a Third Mates unlimited license in 4 years and make yourself some real money and have a real career? You also graduate with a bachelor of science degree. You can get financial aid from the Academy's financial aid office.

Do this while you are still young, single and don't have a mortgage or a kid.....or a yacht.

Go commercial, there is no real money in messing around with pleasure boats, yeah okay, there are some rare exceptions. Trust me, it will get old being in the beautiful ports that yachts go but still getting paid peanuts.
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Old 16-10-2012, 10:17   #12
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Just go up to Alaska and get on a purse seiner...you'll learn allot and get paid for it....or you'll come home with a different mind set.
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Old 16-10-2012, 10:17   #13
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicanica123 View Post
I do have an american passport. From the research I've done, I'm pretty sure that I could easily get my Canadian as well if it would be useful. My biggest goal is to do a transoceanic trip. How much could I expect to pay to get a good cert?
As said, I doubt if a Canadian passport (on top of a US one) will make a great difference. if any...........But I would nonetheless suggest getting the 2nd passport if you can. Countries do change their rules, whether that bars those who previously could or simply makes it more of a PITA ...........and whilst you may never need a Canadian passport / the ability to stay in Canada as long as you like (or emigrate to?!) - nonetheless one day you might. Might also be marginal benefits to having a passport from a Commonwealth country when applying for longer stay visas in other Commonwealth countries. Might .
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Old 16-10-2012, 10:24   #14
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Definitely would not recommend clearing out of one country on a boat on one passport then clearing into another with a different passport while on the same boat... don't care what nationality it is
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Old 16-10-2012, 10:52   #15
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Re: Considering life as a deckhand

Dead right, boatman61... that is a recipe for jail or a long delay at immigration which will not endear you to the skipper who you are sailing with! All a dual passport will do is allow you entry and leaving a country on the same passport easier in some country's that may for political reasons look suspiciously at one citizenship over another at a particular point in time. I know... been there, done that and got the T-shirt. Having held dual citizenship for many years, i've learned to leave one at home depending on where I'm traveling. Having two on your person is not a good plan. Phil
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