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being a sea captain

What does it take to be a captain anyway? Part Deux…

capt ed smith

Capt E.J. Smith, RMS Titanic

 

So on my previous post, I gave a rather personal view of what I learned regarding being a good captain vs. a “faux” captain. Then, to further substantiate the topic beyond my mere opinion, I included some link resources to other sites and articles about the subject. These articles cover the various requirements, responsibilities and other criteria involved in the occupation. 

On this post, I’d like to render some advice for newer, less-experienced captains. Particularly those who are looking at getting their first “real” captain’s job. Then, what to do once you get it. And finally, what to do when you decide it’s time to move on.

Take this advice to heart, and it will bode well for your future as a captain:

1. Be genuinely enthusiastic for the job. Don’t pretend. 

Don’t just say what you think your potential employer wants to hear, mean it. Many employers can tell the difference, no matter how good you think you are at faking it. 

2. If you don’t feel right about the boat or the operation, don’t take the job.

It’s really that simple isn’t it? If, after going through the interview, you don’t feel comfortable with the operation, or the boat, then perhaps the gig isn’t right for you. It’s ok to be honest about it. Ask hard questions and demand answers. If it doesn’t feel right, move on. Your prospective employer will just keep looking. Whatever you do, don’t just take a job to fill in until you find another job somewhere else. Captain’s jobs are almost always temporary in nature, anyway. That much is understood. Regardless, to “use” a captain gig while you’re looking for greener pastures elsewhere at your employer’s expense never looks good on a resume/CV. Don’t worry, future employers will know how to spot it. 

3. Be honest and detailed about your previous job(s), and your work experience.

For example, if the previous boat you were supposedly “captaining” was one where nothing was working aboard and you didn’t really need to worry about maintenance and upkeep of essential systems. That’s an important piece of information to share. Be honest about it. Never had to work on the boat’s DC electrical system due to the fact that none existed? Be clear on that. If the furthest extent of any diesel maintenance entailed changing the oil or tightening a belt, fine. But don’t tout yourself as a mechanic.

This is the kind of information that is relevant to your prospective employer, and his hiring criteria. If you think that touting a previous boat you worked on as being the same or similar model to the boat you’re trying to get work on will give you an edge, then great. It is important, however, that you be clear and specific about what you did and did not maintain on that boat. Be sure to tell the prospective employer everything regarding your experience. 

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What does it take to be a captain anyway?

simpsons seacaptain
Arrrrgghhhhh….

Having just seen a transition to Andiamo’s latest captain get completed albeit haphazardly, I find myself reminded yet again about some important life lessons. The lessons I went through in my own journey to become a captain. Something even I refused to call myself for most of my early years as an actual captain. First, aboard my maiden boat “La Dolce Vita”, and then of course, aboard “Andiamo”. 

See, I developed my love of sailing and yachting with absolutely no interest in it ever becoming a “business”. I had the benefit of sailing and crewing on several different boats over the years, just for the love of it. Because it was (and still is) a big passion of mine. Despite this, suffice it to say, my humble beginnings in yachting all those years ago came from paying my dues in the charter trade. After first doing charters in Caribbean for more than two seasons (7 day charters, working 14+ hours a day, is HARD work. Even in paradise.), and one season in the Med on a private motor yacht (which, for a sailor like me, was DREADFUL, but worth the experience), I came to understand the “business” side of what it took to be a captain. And quite frankly, at least then, I wanted none of it. Being a deckhand or a first mate was hard enough. 

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