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Old 06-05-2024, 16:28   #1
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Any big ship guys here?

Good evening everyone.

I graduated from a maritime academy 9 years ago, and have been enjoying a successful career as a mariner holding a USCG Unlimited Tonnage Oceans license. I'm doing things opposite. Most people I know started driving boats as little kids, and then moved on to work on big ships as adults. I started with big ships, and now I am slowing learning small vessels.

Last year I took the US Sailing Fast Track to Bareboat Cruising course in the BVI, and I just completed my first boat charter in the BVI with my family.

I'm looking into the Coastal Navigation/Passage Making courses.(I'm worried some of this material might be redundant for me, but in my mind there's no such thing as to much navigation training/experience). I am also looking into where to charter next after BVI(These forums have been very helpful). My long term goal with sailing/cruising is.....Don't really know yet, I'm just having fun.

I'm curious as if anyone has been in my situation/what's your experience/any advice on navigating the cruising world, after being a commercial mariner?
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Old 06-05-2024, 17:19   #2
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

My advice is not to rely on courses to give you what you need to cross an ocean. A good course will basically tell you what you need to work on. Give it at least a year or two of actual experience before going. Of course, people do it - they take a couple of courses and go out into the world without incident. But, I put it like this:

Our first boat was a trailerable Venture 22 - chosen because it was big enough to sleep on, but cheap enough to run aground and not feel bad. It was never intended to be our boat - just the boat we learned on. One day, we got caught in a bit of a gale and, while scrambling to change head sails, the jib halyard was dropped and went up the mast. There was no way to retrieve it with the mast up and the boat was almost uncontrollable with no headsail.

With some creative sailing, we got to the leeward shadow of an island where it was just calm enough for us to unstep the mast, retrieve the halyard, and restep. We were able to sail back to a bay and ride out the gale.

We knew to keep control of the halyard, but experience hadn't driven that point home hard enough yet. So, when things got tense, mistakes were made. We learned that lesson on a small boat, close enough to land that we had options, and on a boat where this was possible. We don't need to relearn that lesson where the stakes are higher.

Our next boat was a Catalina 27. We were navigating a very narrow channel out of a bay when tide was lower than was comfortable. We did not, at that time, have a depth sounder, but we did have a GPS with a detailed chart. So, my wife was able to watch us on the GPS and advise me to go left or right to stay in the channel. This would have worked fine, since it was well charted with no rocks or other obstacles - just sand. But, she zoomed way in on the GPS to be able to see detail and, in so doing, she got confused about what lighter and darker meant on the chart. So, she navigated me into a sandbar where we got to hang out for the next few hours in shame.

Again, that's a lesson we got to learn on a boat that wouldn't have been that expensive to fix or total, in an environment that was nothing more than embarassing. Another lesson we don't need to learn trying to get into a secluded anchorage on an island in the Pacific.

Cumulatively, those "small" lessons are actually what make us good sailors.
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Old 06-05-2024, 17:43   #3
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

Good Sea Stories, and I agree with you that there's no substitute for experience.(Reason why I have a grudge against kids who learn to drive boats at 3 years old, hey save some of the fun for the rest of us).
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Old 06-05-2024, 17:45   #4
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

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Originally Posted by Kurt Borkman View Post

I'm looking into the Coastal Navigation/Passage Making courses.(I'm worried some of this material might be redundant for me, but in my mind there's no such thing as to much navigation training/experience). I am also looking into where to charter next after BVI(These forums have been very helpful). My long term goal with sailing/cruising is.....Don't really know yet, I'm just having fun.
I 100% agree... Never have too much training/experience and/or certifications.

I wouldn't worry about material being redundant... you'll never know everything, learning never stops.
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Old 06-05-2024, 18:05   #5
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pirate Re: Any big ship guys here?

I didn't start on commercial ships.. my first ship as crew was a Type 14 frigate called HMS Pellew in 1965, 2 weeks sea training out of my one year in HMS Ganges.
All my ships after that were anti-submarine Frigates or Destroyers, navigation was part of the Seamanship studies in Ganges.
I got into the idea of sailing while in the Gibraltar Squadron, one day heading into the Strait near Tarifa we passed a gentleman's yacht who dropped his ensign in salute and the 1st Officer of the watch had me racing to the stern to return the salute.. I watched the boat as we passed and decided.. one day that will be me..
Never got the 40ft yacht but.. have gotten a lot of sea miles in my wake since 1987.
Learn navigation old school, you never know when you'll need it.. till you do.
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Old 06-05-2024, 18:10   #6
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

If I held an unlimited license, I would be tempted to have a yacht of such size that I could issue orders to the OD, who would then relay them to the quartermaster, the boatswain, or the engine room as was necessary.
Navigation? all the JOs should be on deck with a sextant at noon.
Or on a smaller vessel, one could just speak to oneself whilst accomplishing such tasks.
Perhaps all of the above should be taken with two grains of salt.
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Old 06-05-2024, 19:00   #7
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

Five years as an A/B, 3rd/2nd Officer, Nova Scotia Nautical Institute about 45 years ago. Tramping, all the oceans except the Pacific, south as far as Buenos Aires, as far north as Lulea.

Pre-GPS, ships did not have Loran or Decca, so all navigation was by sextant, pilotage (coastal navigation) by RDF, radar, depth sounder, sometimes by horizonal sextant angles as an academic exercise.

Don't care much for the gadgets that came with my current boat, still carry charts and a leadline.
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Old 08-05-2024, 02:08   #8
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

Captain 50 years ago. Ships mostly steam then. Loran A & C, early GPS, stars, bearings.
I still use sextant angles to plot some of my favorite anchorages in Alaska and Canada. I like scenic, quiet places. If it's hard to get into, it stays quiet.

My first boat had oars. I trolled for Salmon in the river, rowing all the time. I had some shoulders in the old days. At 9 my parents let me have an outboard. At 12 I had a part time job in a big boat yard. Almost everything was wood then. Saved my money and bought a 1940 65' Chris Craft at auction when I was 13. Caught hell, but the deed was done. Better to ask forgiveness than permission.

If I were you I'd worry about small boat handling and knowing your boats systems. You're also the chief engineer, too.
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Old 08-05-2024, 03:50   #9
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
... and bought a 1940 65' Chris Craft at auction when I was 13. Caught hell, but the deed was done. Better to ask forgiveness than permission....
I also got hell from my parents when I bought the C&C 25, but I was 30 at the time
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Old 20-05-2024, 07:40   #10
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

Same here, startet at the shipping company with all ships painted in cheerful grey, got all my licences. Years later, when i became unemployed, i bought a sailing boat. As i had no experience in handling a small boat and had to do everthing on my own without a crew, i travelled from one hassle to the next. It took one, two years do go through all the hard lessons on practice, including to mention its even on costal waters necessary to use charts and navigate carefully ;-))
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Old 20-05-2024, 10:27   #11
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

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Same here, startet at the shipping company with all ships painted in cheerful grey........ ;-))
Oldendorff?
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Old 20-05-2024, 10:34   #12
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

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Oldendorff?
fehgrau (RAL7000) = Marine )
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Old 21-05-2024, 21:17   #13
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

Was once upon a time long ago.

Had some very limited experience, messing about in small row boat or canoe as a kid on holiday. Fishing, Seagull out board, ect No sailing.
Otherwise a ride on a ferry. Some strange reason, Chose a career at sea, Based on stories about pirates etc.

Ended up at a marine school after leaving high school. Learned a few interesting nautical terms like Bow. How not to catch exotic diseases in tropical ports. Some simple fire fighting and lowered a lifeboat.

First actual voyage on school training vessel was supposed to be 48hrs. Shortened to less than 24, everyone was seasick. One lad quite and went home as soon as we returned to the dock.
I stuck it out and got my certificates ect.
Process included learning stuff for lifeboat certificate. Required rowing a whale boat up and down river in winter. And sailing some kind of generic hefty sailboat in December in the rain and snow.
Was convinced sailing was for the birds.
2nd mate FGN. Sailed as 3rd Mate, No interest in sailing. Asked by Uncle to help move his power boat. No particular interest but agreed to help.

Tied up next to a Sail Training Vessel. Went over to kick the tires. Had a chat with skipper. Offered me a job. Told him I knew absolutely nothing about sailing. He was still keen for me to give it a go. Went for a week to see if I liked it.
Spent the rest of the year as bosun on a sailing vessel paid next to nothing but I had a great time.

So I learned how to sail. A Schooner. Sort off.
After working on ships, Keeping watch when the skipper wanted to put his head down was no big deal. He was pretty happy.
I was offered several jobs by other skippers. But I was just doing it for fun and went back to my real job for a while.

Quit Big ships, life.

Did my first sailing course, It was an instructor course. Learned quite a lot about sailing little boats. Worked as an instructor because I got to sail nice boats i couldn't afford. Was never a real job just a pastime.
My wife never accepted I was actually working.
Moved. Quit Sailing, Unrealistic dream of buying a nice boat one day.
Bought an internet special. 24ft C&C. No interior. Just some sails and a outboard. but it floated, the keel wasn't falling off and the outboard started.

I took a couple of sheets of plywood a skill saw, three sleeping bags and some camping gear. My 8 and 10 year old kids and sailed it home.
We had a lot of fun.

It was one of the smallest boats, I've ever sailed. 20 odd years after starting out on a 250 000 t tanker. Remembering only the bit about how not to catch an exotic disease in a tropical port.

Learning how sails work is pretty straight forward. any basic sailing course will explain it well enough. Or just read a book.

The rest, I already knew way more than any sailing certificate. I've ever heard of requires. (I have to admit some posters hear know quite a lot)

What I enjoy about sailing, Is just getting back to the basics. I leave all the fancy toys behind at work. I get from A to B just using the wind and star or tree to steer by.
If I get thirsty I might put the motor on and find a pub or other civilized establishment.

I do have a CYA logbook. and a sailing certificate somewhere.
I finally went and got a PBOC after a long annoying conversation with Border Services Agent.

Just go and have fun.

My personal policy, I don't usually tell other sailors much about my working life. I prefer to appear to be just an other weekender. If I sail with someone else, I don't tell them how to navigate ect unless they ask. So long as we are safe.

I still have stuff to learn about sailing.
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Old 21-05-2024, 21:29   #14
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 5BTM View Post
Five years as an A/B, 3rd/2nd Officer, Nova Scotia Nautical Institute about 45 years ago. Tramping, all the oceans except the Pacific, south as far as Buenos Aires, as far north as Lulea.

Pre-GPS, ships did not have Loran or Decca, so all navigation was by sextant, pilotage (coastal navigation) by RDF, radar, depth sounder, sometimes by horizonal sextant angles as an academic exercise.

Don't care much for the gadgets that came with my current boat, still carry charts and a leadline.
Wot no distance by vertical angle. ( I think I might have used it twice)
Dipping range on the other hand.
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Old 22-05-2024, 02:12   #15
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Re: Any big ship guys here?

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Wot no distance by vertical angle. ( I think I might have used it twice)
Dipping range on the other hand.
Ah the good old dipping range!
Back in the dream time that was normal when working along the east coast of Australia. See the loom -- raise the light -- take a bearing - consult Nories - instant fix.
Rarely two lights in sight at the same time so it was that and running fixes.
Some ships had radar, some didn't. Some had autopliot, some didn't.
Them as didn't had three sailors to the watch, helmsman/lookout/and the 'farmer'.
Only ship I sailed on without gyro was a 1970 build working out of Singapore... it had a magnetic autopilot - also cane furniture, potted palms, and a beer cooler on the monkey island -- oh happy days.
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