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While other people or inspiring cadets busy themselves playing video games, you might as well think and do things differently in order for you to get ahead. There are skills that you can and must learn to develop because you can use it to be a source of fun. Not only that, you can apply it on your work and be the instigator of joy to the crew as well. But the best thing you can gain with it is to convert it into money making ability. Earning extra income on board can be fun.

Often, these skills are not taught in schools, training centers or in your company since everyone is busy on the safety aspects of seafaring. You need not to acquire certificates, documents or permissions from the company or any authorities to use it as this can be done by everyone who wishes to study it. You are lucky enough if you have learned all of these skills in your younger day. Because of its simplicity, most people tend to ignore it while in fact, it is a source of extra income paid in cash, or sometimes in goods, outside of your pay check, tax free!

Here are the five skills in random order of importance:

1. Guitar Power
Not all vessels own band sets like drums, bass, guitars, beat boxes, pianos or organs but most have guitar on board. In nearly all of the vessels that I’ve been with, guitar is one of the most present instrument. If you are well acquainted with this and know a lot of songs, you can instigate an atmosphere of fun and joy as most of the crew will gather in the Day Room to witness your mighty fingers hammer thru the strings and sing songs with you while bumping glasses.

Once I heard a story of a crew who, when they arrived in Amsterdam, brought the guitar with him in the city and started playing near the crowds. People began flocking around him and throw some coins in his hat which was lying on the floor. Not too bad for earning a few extra income. Of course, this game plan won’t work so effectively without the second skill which is…

2. The Vocals
While the guitar gives the melody of the song, a wonderful voice tuning in parallel with the instrument serves as the hook to which passersby are caught. A humorous personality is also a leverage while delivering the music. It increases your earnings significantly. It does take a lot of courage to do this but never mind the embarrassment, you are in a foreign land and they don’t know you anyway. You might even get plenty of likes on social media

You might wonder and ask, “How can I use it on board?” Well, one of the recreations that seafarers have is singing especially with Filipino crews. Nearly all vessels are equipped with a videoke system. Now you can place a microphone in your hands after handling tools the whole working day. During Christmas or other occasions, some vessels organize a singing contest and the prices are just too cool to not participate. Just be careful in showing your golden voice as news of your stardom could easily reach the whole fleet!

3. The Barber.
This is a must on every ship! I find this skill one of the most versatile and profitable as it can also be used ashore. In my experience, whenever I have my own haircut on board, people always ask me who did it. My reply would be myself of course. Then they try to give the fate of their hair into my hands. But before agreeing with their offer, I ensure them that their heads might end up semi-bald (semi-kalbo). Too bad I don’t have a skill for this. But to those guys who know hair cutting, I often hear them earn ten to twenty dollars per head especially if the Big Four (Capt., CE, CM and 2E) are their customers. Other crews offer similar amounts as well and still some go the extra mile by giving foodstuffs like chocolates, soft drinks, beer, a treat during shore leave, and many others.

“What if they don’t pay me squarely or not pay me at all?” You might ask this question. Well, I suggest you still do it as long as it won’t disrupt your rest hours. There are good crewmates out there who will tell those stingy guys that “your service is not free for all and that they are using your valuable time”. One time, I heard one of my crewmate who made this remark to the other guy who always enjoys free service. The next day, my barber friend received unexpected treat from him. So if you have 25 persons on board and you’re the only one who knows this stuff, prepare to get busy with probable extra income every month. And yes, it is also TAX FREE!

4. Tech Wiz.
The gadget industry is booming now than ever and seafarers, even though mostly at sea, are also joining the craze in acquiring the latest and hottest device the world can offer. Almost every crew on board has a laptop, smartphone or both as a means for communication and recreation. With constant use, these gadgets could malfunction and the nearest service center could be a hundred or thousand miles away, charging a heavy price for customers and with limited time we have on shore.

The solution? You!

Younger generation of seafarers mostly know how to tweak and fix hardware or software problems provided they have the necessary tools. Common problems I faced with gadgets and laptops on board were only software dilemmas like corrupted programs or files, file extension errors and virus or malware attack. But if you know more on these stuffs, then the better the service you can provide for your crewmates.

My roommate and I were fixing a laptop which was devastated by a malware. After a few days, we were able to repair it and restore it to its optimum function. We were expecting the usual “thank you” but to our surprise, he offered us €20.00 for the service we rendered. We were very happy back then for this means a lot especially if you are earning the least on board. Not only in this case, there are times that I did a similar service to others and receive either slopchests, chocolates, free internet simcard or a treat during shoreleave.

Here is a safe tip, make sure of yourself that you are a Tech Wizard and not a Hazard.

5. Photography.
And the winner is (drum roll please)…

This might be the grandest hobby us seafarers can have with respect to our profession. There are lots of great scenes we see in our workplace as we are much very close to nature than most profession. From the soaring sea birds, perfect sunsets, peculiar ports and the raging seas, every scene brings wonderful images that delivers unique message to the outside world.

So how can you profit from this?

There are some shipping agencies that hold Photo Contests for all the crew of their fleet and everyone can participate with it. I took part in this event and submit my best photos with no avail of winning. But my friend always position himself in either the second, first or champion of the event. He’s a pro in this area and is earning more than a hundred dollars depending on the position he got.

But don’t get sad if you can’t win in this contest or your company doesn’t hold one. You can look up the internet and find lots of helpful things to do with your photos like selling it online. I will cover this topic in my future posts soon so stay more of it.

Conclusion
The skills that I mentioned above are not the only ones that you can use to create advantage on your sea life. Based on observation and experience, some crews on board often get something for free without asking or begging. They give some valuable service to their fellow like those mentioned above or giving more effort than what is required of them to do so. In the end, it is always profitable to do more than what is paid for as long as it is within the bounds of safety.
So what are you waiting for, harness those skills and get ready to use it in your profession.

May the winds be on your favor.

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