24 Seafarer Tips for Job Hunting, Life On Board, Signing Off, & Vacation

by | Last updated Jan 23, 2024 | Career Guide, Experiences, Seaman's Life | 0 comments

These seafarer tips I’m about to show you may be a little old-school or overly simple by today’s standards.

But they work and have greatly helped my career since I started sailing in 2009.

Over the years, I refined them and saved which ones are working and timeless and which aren’t.

I’m sharing them with you now so you may benefit from them or learn something you can apply while working on board.

Key Takeaways

  • Excel at your job, manage workload wisely and always prioritize safety.
  • Complete training first after signing off and before going home.
  • When job hunting, cast a wide net by applying to many manning agencies.

Job Hunting

Every seafarer, from cadets to officers, undergoes the job-hunting stages of their career.

The process can be cumbersome and tiring, particularly for cadets without experience.

There are reasons why manning agencies employ backer systems, but if you have none, it doesn’t mean you’re hopeless.

1. Apply to as many agencies as you possibly can.

Volume is still key in job hunting these days.

Use all available means- email applications, online job sites, job apps, office walk-ins, and even LinkedIn.

Go through the list of accredited manning agencies to find their addresses and emails and write a compelling application letter.

You will be surprised by their response.

2. Make your interview stand out!

Especially if you are a cadet!

For experienced seafarers, as long as you know your job, interviews won’t be a problem.

But for cadets with no international shipboard experience, put your best foot forward during interviews to impress the crewing manager.

Remember: the first impression is lasting. I see cadets getting hired without a backer, and I’m pretty sure you can do it, too.

3. Refer friends, colleagues, and even strangers.

If you know someone fit for the rank and role, refer him to that company. You can even refer some seafarers you don’t personally know to a hiring company.

That way, you’re helping two people and creating a connection to build a relationship.

This is a very doable tip for fresh maritime graduates actively hunting for jobs.

The benefit may not be apparent, but good karma will come your way the more people you help.

4. Apply early.

Planning to change company? Apply at least two or three months before you finish your contract.

Use social media, emails, and online job sites to connect with crewing managers.

You may not be able to get the job now, but your first contact with them serves as a primer the next time you ask them for a job vacancy.

Apply our seafarer tip number 1 as well.

Jobs and Life Tips On Board

Life aboard can be challenging, even with a modest crew of just 20 men. Someone may try to trip you off for some unknown reason, or the workload can be unbearable.

These tips will help you finish your contract peacefully.

5. Be very good at your job.

Be so good at it that even if someone says something bad behind your back, they won’t believe everything they say.

Work properly and honestly even if no one is looking, and your reputation will build itself.

People will trust you more, and that’s important, especially if you’re aiming for a promotion.

A crew working under the pipeline of a tanker vessel.

6. A heck of a lot of jobs on the list? Throttle your speed.

Sometimes, you’ll notice that more jobs are added throughout the day.

Don’t bother yourself going full ahead at your work every day. You’ll just tire and demotivate yourself.

You can still be very good at your job while matching and throttling your pace to avoid burnout.

7. If it’s unsafe, DON’T!

It still happens from time to time due to tight deadlines and nervous officers. If they want you to go inside an inert tank with a BA, DON’T!

People will respect you more, notably if you practice the 5th seafarer tip.

8. Five O’Clock is Five O’Clock.

Don’t pretend to be hardworking by walking on deck with paint in hand at 17:05 when it’s time for dinner.

That only gives off bad vibes, and the crew will think your time management sucks!

9. Sometimes, you have to do overtime.

Overtime work can’t be avoided. Sometimes, bad things happen at 17:20 or even midnight.

There could even be inspections at the next port requiring you to extend working hours. This is normal on board and acceptable.

What’s unacceptable is performing unnecessary overtime on a normal day, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.

10. Grow your beard.

In some places, having a beard commands respect and authority.

Identify those ports; the jettymen, mooring gangs, and business people may listen and respect you.

11. Someone’s rubbing you off? Interact less but still be good at them.

I was the new guy on board a tanker vessel, and someone didn’t like me there.

I let him be, did my tasks very well, and showed him my skills while keeping calm with fewer interactions.

A few months later, he began asking for my help on some of his jobs.

12. Don’t spend too much time in the day room.

The dayroom can be a fun place to bond with the crew.

But if you have future plans of building something like businesses or hobbies, spending too much time in the day room won’t help.

13. Don’t spend too much time in your cabin.

This seems common today, especially if your ship has internet. But hibernating in your cabin after work will miss you out on some crew bonding.

Besides, talking to your wife all day in your cabin could end up in a fight.

14. Buy booze for the boys!

Even once in your entire contract!

Don’t be stingy with your thousand dollars. Sometimes, you need to celebrate something– a birthday, challenging loading operations, getting out of a busy port, and so on and forth.

Buying beers, wine, or any booze for the boys is a jobs-well-done gesture that goes a long way.

Beer, Pringles, wine, and other snacks on the table.

15. Build your hobby.

Seafaring can be a perfect profession to build your hobby outside of your job.

I built this website because writing, reading, and browsing the internet is my hobby. I built it for years during my free time and even when we were busy.

You can do yours, too, and use your time productively.

16. Go Ashore!

Many people pay thousands of dollars for hotels and plane tickets for their vacations.

We, seafarers, don’t need to as our ships may dock in one of the most touristic places in the world.

So go out there and find your reasons for going ashore.

17. Express your anger and disappointment professionally.

We were drying the last tank and secured all of the equipment after weeks of tank cleaning.

At 16:20, the Chief Officer called me to prepare again the same equipment to re-wash the tank because they “discovered” something! My bullsh*t meter fired up, and I went to his office.

I calmly made a tremendous speech to my two audience – the Captain and the Chief Officer– pointing out their impulsiveness, lack of coordination, and concern for the crew.

After that incident, they began giving me more respect and consulting me for their work plans.

We often think that expressing our anger and disappointment is a massive sin on board. But it’s not, as long as you do it professionally.

18. If you don’t like the company, LEAVE!

It’s that simple!

Instead of whining about how bad the ship or your company is, pack up, leave, and find a greener pasture.

Often, those crew members who are more vocal about it are the ones who end up staying.

Signing Off

The best part of every seaman’s contract!

But it’s even better if you incorporate these signing-off tips before leaving the ship.

19. Make peace with everyone on board.

At the end of your contract, this is just a job and nothing personal.

If you’re not on good terms with someone, it’s time to fix that and wish them well on their next voyages.

Giving them a few of your slop chests may heal those arguments and leave them feeling relieved.

You may even sail on the same ship next time, so you better fix your quarrels with them now.

20. Avoid shopping your provisions.

I tried doing this early in my career as Cookie gave me biscuits, coffee, milk, cereals, etc., in the provision room.

But it didn’t feel right, so I stopped.

We may differ in our views on this part, but one thing is sure for me: I can afford them back home, and I didn’t lack anything during my vacation.

A red luggage placed beside a red fire extinguisher.

Vacation

A seafarer’s vacation can start as heaven a few weeks after signing off. But it may become a nightmare, especially if the pocket runs dry.

Here are some seafarer tips from a fellow seaman, to avoid money problems while gaining extra knowledge and skills on your vacation.

21. Plan a budget for your vacation.

Budget is everything!

You already know how much you saved during your contract and how long your vacation will be.

Set your budget right and stick to it so you’ll worry less about not having enough for your vacation.

My post, 10 Effective Tipid Tips on Handling Your Money During Vacation, should be an excellent resource for you.

22. Start taking your training after signing off.

Another underrated piece of advice.

I learned this from a fellow seafarer and started implementing it every time after signing off.

I know you are eager to go out there and enjoy life, but if you complete your training first, you won’t have to worry about anything, especially if your savings get depleted at the end of your vacation.

23. Attend seminars.

Seminars enable us to acquire knowledge from experienced speakers while giving us opportunities to network and build connections.

I attended many seminars that helped me grow in my finances whenever I had free time in Manila.

Try exploring this area and see how you will grow.

24. Go to Church.

After signing off and reaching Manila, the first place you must go should be something other than malls, beaches, or resorts.

Visit your favorite Church or the one where you earnestly prayed during that time when you seem to have the most significant problems of your life.

Be grateful that everything you have right now is entrusted to you by God. Thank Him for the safe voyage while working at sea.


As I end these seafarer tips, I hope you pick up something valuable from this post.

Let me know your thoughts and if you have any seafarer problems right now.

May the winds be in your favor.

Gibi

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