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Advice for a Young Ship’s Officer

A young officer might feel quite helpless in the new surroundings. He might have grasped all the minute details about a ship and even the disasters it might encounter during navigation. Knowledge is of course essential but experience is not just knowledge. Familiarity of a subject, say, shipping, does not make one necessarily familiar with the surrounding situation. He does need a mentor to see him through the unknown faces of professional life, rather unknown dimensions of the professional life with confidence without fear. A mentor at the right moment is a blessing for a novice, for a baffled beginner. And gCaptain has brought out excellent tips for a deck officer to get started on a right note. Behind each tip offered there is rich practical experience, abstracted from the very living. In fact the experience that help frame the tip can be described but then, all put together will grow into a very good book of useful Guideline for the deck officer. Of course, tips are as they should be, simple, direct and forceful. Sometime there is very faint humour but a factual statement. For example, the very first tip directs the deck officer to find a great mentor aboard the ship, and if ‘you can’t, find a new ship’. Refined humour but at the same time deep pragmatism. Let us see other refreshing tips offered to the young deck officer.

         A great mentor may be a bosun, engineer and sometimes a cook.

    Your intelligence does not increase when you are promoted.

    Spend more time in the engine-room.

    Forget everything you learned on your last ship.

    Remember everything your last ship taught you.

    Befriend the 3 B’s:

-The Bosun-The Baker -The Best Engineer

    Never miss a sunrise or sunset.

    Carry a pen, paper, and extra flashlight everywhere.

    If you say you will do something, write it down and cross it off when finished.

    Report any screw-up but stay silent when you are exceptionally proud of your work.

    Relish the fresh air, fresh breath and fresh ideas you find at sea.

·         Make your own bed every morning

·         Only gossip while knitting.

·         Make the Chief Mate’s job easier.

·         Know thy job, thy ship and thyself.

·         The Captain is not your best friend or worst enemy. Sleep is!

·         Ask more questions.

·         Get ship done!

·         Listen harder.

·         Always sail toward your waypoint even when you make no way.

·         Keep your chronometer wound, your sextant corrected and the magnetic compass tuned because you might never need them.

·         Call the captain more often than necessary. The good ones will appreciate it and the bad ones will be annoyed.

·         The three things most likely to end your career are ignoring the COLREGS, ignoring the Captain’s orders and ignoring the warning signs that you are about to marry the wrong person.

·         The last item is in reverse order.

·         Before telling a sea-story ask yourself three questions:

-Is it a great story?

-Are you sure?


Find new sea stories.

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