I’ve just finished packing for sea. When I usually pack for sea, I’m usually overly excited, at the prospect of travelling to new, and exciting countries, an elation which is however, short lived, when I arrive at the gangway and sight the vessel that I’m going to be stuck on for an extended period- it’s a unique sinking feeling, which only applies to this situation. I don’t even have the luxury of that, because I’m going to join a tanker, which occasionally leaves Plymouth to refuel in Scotland. I’m joining as an Able Seaman; although my Officer ticket is “unlimited” – to sail as an officer on a Tanker of any kind, would require a Dangerous Cargo Endorsement- and to get that; I need 3 months served on a tanker. This is essentially taking a step back, to take two steps forward. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Will there be a 24/7 room service number number for me to call? What days will the cabin steward come to collect my laundry? Will I be allowed to use the swimming pools, and go on tours for free? I wonder.
I’d been put forward for a job with Svitzer in Liverpool, and I was really hoping that I’d get it, but the agency dealing with it has told me that Svitzer are stalling with regards to making the appointment- he even went as far to ask me to wait, before I took this contract, so he could try and get an answer from Svitzer, but he could only leave voice mail for the chap in charge. The Svitzer job would be perfect- an excellent salary, excellent training, and a week on, a week off- I told my daughter about it, and she was excited at the prospect of being able to see me every other week! Telling her I was going away yesterday really upset her! The guilt! The job market at the moment for newly qualified officers is shocking, there’s so many people waiting for a job. I’ve tried so many companies over the last few months, with little to no success. The cruise company I work(ed) for, finally got back to me, telling me “nothing for you at the moment, maybe after Easter” – now you’d think on face value, why not just wait, as that sounds promising. Well, you would, but- one of the other officers who left the company recently, to take up a new job, which didn’t work out for him, emailed the manager, who, within a day, came back to him with a ship, and a joining date- where as I’ve been harping on for 9 weeks for a ship, and he’s been essentially ignoring me. My financial situation is deteriorating rapidly; so, I’ve decided to just take this job. I can’t rely on maybes. If I like it, and I complete the three months; I can then apply for my DCE, which could open doors for me in the tanker sector; which incidentally pays well. For example, my cruise job pays me £2150 a month, whilst on board. If you annualised that, it would work out at £17,000 P/A- which is about on par with any entry level job in the UK (with a 70 hour week) – with a leave ratio of 4 months on, and 2 off. My college friends who all work for BP, are all on starting salaries of 37K (tax free),with a 3 month on/off rotation. Do I even want to work on tankers? I want to be happy, rather than rich. I don’t know! I pretty much decided that I didn’t like cruise ships; the atmosphere, the politics from the first contract. It’s clear I’ll never be able to go back on bulk carriers- tankers do pay though. My goal of working on the Irish Sea ferries as an officer is seemingly an impossible one at present. The management company for Stenna (Scottish) basically told me there’s no chance, when I called them- and a friend I know who works for them, tells me, they take on temporary 3rd officers all the time, and every single one of them is Scottish. Well…fuck you Northern Marine Management.
I have the luxury of being able to drive to the ship, meaning I can take my bike, and continue training; take my guitar; and avoid public transport- silver linings! I have a feeling that this engagement will be short lived for some reason. I’m pissed off. Time to drive to Plymouth.
Wish me luck.