So you want to go to sea
So you want to go to sea
to be a deck officer you need to have very good eyesight with good colour vision. Engineers also need good eyesight but the entry requirements are lower.
Do you get motion sick?
This affects most people when they first go to sea. Fortunately, the vast majority of people get used to it after a couple of days. Ships move, roll, pitch, yaw and everything in between. Everyone feels a bit of motion sickness or discomfort in really rough weather but if you can't cope with it don't torture yourself, a life at sea is not for you.
Can you do without sleep?
Although regulations are in force to ensure adequate rest, there are times when sleep can be scarce, or interrupted. Whether it is due to the weather, ships motion, a hectic schedule or a breakdown.
Are you willing to work odd hours?
Generally onboard ship you have to work a shift system. However at times you will be required to work outside those hours, normally for no extra compensation, it is all part of the job.
Can women go to sea?
The answer is simply Yes.
Can You get on with people?
Typical deep sea voyages can last from 3-6 months. Depending upon the vessel and its run you may never set foot on land until you leave the ship to come home. Ship crews are shrinking all the time with the progress of automation. You HAVE to be able to get on with the people you work with and to tolerate / accept their ideas and cultures. There are very few places on a ship to hide from people that you dislike or have fallen out with. In the event of an emergency the only people in the first instance that can and will help you are your ship mates - it might help if you get on with them.
It is also worth noting that many shipping companies for one reason or another have multi-national crews. You need to be able to understand and accept different races and cultures.
Can you stand extremes in temperature and weather?
World-wide shipping does just as it says, it travels the world. From the bitterly freezing conditions of an Alaskan, Canadian and Scandinavian winter to the heat of the Tropics and the Persian Gulf. Temperatures can range from below -40 C to above +40 C. The weather can be anything from sunny and calm to a stormy blizzard and everything in between. Work doesn't stop just because it is hot, cold, sunny or snowing. It is something to think about.
Do you mind working in hot, noisy and dirty places?
It will happen no matter what department or rank you are. You will find that at sometime a nasty dirty job will happen to come your way. It has to be done and you will have to do it.
Can you swim?
You need to be able to swim about 100 metres.
Are you claustrophobic? If you are, a job at sea is probably not for you. Some jobs mean entering small dark enclosed spaces.
Are you willing to do manual labour and be flexible in your job?
At sea you have to work as a team, there is no one else to call to get the job done. At times that means mucking in, even if it is not technically in your job description.
Do you suffer from home sickness? 'This is something that most people experience from time to time in their careers, particularly when they leave home for the first time. If you have got this far in finding out about the job it's unlikely to cause you a problem!
Going to sea gives the mariner a chance to see mother nature in one of its most unspoilt and raw environments left on earth. Views of the night sky show more stars than most on land will ever see. Northern Lights are more spectacular, Nebulous clouds clearer and comets and shooting stars more visible. Seeing the bioluminescence caused by the ships wake lighting up the sea at night with pale whites and vivid greens that sparkle and twinkle in the dark night sea is truly amazing.
Virtually every sailor with a camera has an album full of beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
The sight of Wandering Albatrosses in the Southern Oceans has made many a person to put pen to paper. Dolphins and Porpoises playing in the wake or bow wave of the ship. Whales blowing, a Humpback protesting at your presence by rising up out of the water before slamming back down again. Seals far off the South African coast, Sharks, Flying Fish, Hugh Jellyfish and Manta Rays gliding in the ocean currents and Turtles basking in the sun. All become a fabulous sight for the mariner and can be counted as one of the benefits of the job.
However you also get to see the other side of mother nature, her unrivalled power. Mountainous seas and wind in excess of 100 knots that cause ships to bend, twist and contort under the extreme forces, all in front of your very eyes. I have seen deck machinery weighing several tonnes that was welded and bolted to the main deck be washed away with just one wave. Ships are built to survive this kind of weather.
As a world traveller you will get the chance to see foreign and exotic places, enough to make all your friends envious. Be warned however, the time in port is getting less and less and you may not always dock near any known civilisation. That said, there are some wonderful sights and experiences to be had.