Sea Year Questions

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by KP20, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. KP20

    KP20 New Member

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    I have been offered an MMI principal position that I planned to accept but am now having second thoughts after watching a particular sea year video.

    Other than several cruises and outings on friends' boats, I have no experience with sailing or the maritime industry. My father is active duty army so I am familiar with frequent moves, changes, and the military lifestyle (at least as a military dependent) but am unfamiliar with deep sea sailing. I have never been sea sick but am uncertain how well I would hold up in the conditions shown in the video. The ship in the video was in the midst of a storm and the video caption states it was listing at a 50 degree angle. Would this type of storm be common? Would it feel like being on an extreme roller coaster for days on end? Relative to other dangers in careers (e.g. airborne operations), what is the relative risk of deep sea sailing? I followed the El Faro story and was very saddened by the loss of life. Was this an unusual situation or one common to the industry? I wish to make sure I am making an informed decision, fully understand the conditions I will face, and do an honest self-assessment as to whether this is right for me.
     
  2. AJC

    AJC Member

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    In my experience it is the more subtle movements that make people sick, not the violence depicted in the video.
    I sailed in all conditions and never got sick. I had a captain that would be sick the first three days at see and then be ok afterwords. All endevours of this type have their risk but I would not say it was inherently dangerous, particularly on a US flagged vessel.
     
  3. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Don't be frightened by YouTube or other videos. Are there some nasty conditions out there? You bet. Worst I had to deal with were 30 foot seas on a 160 foot tugboat off of Hatteras, towing a 900 foot long ship. Pretty unpleasant couple of days for sure. Unpleasant enough that I still remember them some 30+ years later. You know what we call that kind of weather? Job Security weather. Because it will scare away the ones that just want to take a cruise in calm seas and fair winds. . . . Personally, it never mattered to me. I was trained to do my job regardless of the weather conditions and truth be told, as an engineer, anyone could do the job when things were running smoothly. An engineer is really onboard to take care of the problems. . . and yes, the EL FARO was a disaster and horrible tragedy. Unusual situation? You bet. Then, again, this industry isn't for every one. I WOULD say, however, give it a try if you get an appointment. . . you are young and who knows. . . there is really nothing to lose.
     
  4. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Don’t let fear the extreme be the enemy of the happy routine.

    Everyone is different when it comes to the weather at sea and the motion of the vessel. You may be sick on one, but fine on another in worse weather.

    I have a weird ear thing where on one of my boats the vibrations matched the harmonics of my head just right and combined with the motion of 4 ft. seas would make me violently sea sick. I got queasy once just running across NY harbor on a fairly calm day. I’ve been in 10+ in the GOM and off the Outer Banks and been fine. I’ve also been in the Bering Sea in January on the El Faros sister ship and never got a twinge of nausea. I personally am fine with the constant slow rollers, it’s the short quick motions that work on my stomach.

    Sure there’ve been some decidedly un-fun days at sea but the vast majority ranged from mundane to routine to fun to downright awesome. It’s just that most people don’t post them on YouTube. Grilling locally bought prawns in SE Asia that were the size of Maine Lobster or fresh caught wahoo in the GOM. Hanging out around the BBQ on the stern of a tug on Sunday (steak day) soaking up the sun off the outer banks and realizing that somebody is paying you for this. Sitting alone in the cool autumn air while looking at the fall colors along the Hudson River and hearing nothing but the sound of water slipping past the hull. No matter how many amazing sun rises and sun sets you’ve seen, you still stop and look. And that’s just the stuff that happens underway.
     
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  5. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Yeah, you never know what might make you ill at ease. I have only been seasick one time. Was just offshore Freeport (TX) with ABS, doing leg to can NDT. . . was taking way too much time and the rig owners decided that they didn't want to pay me while they were still getting the connections ready to test. Just after I had a night lunch sandwich, they told me to get on the launch (the PIPELINE DIVER, very old boat) and go in and come back out when they were ready. Just about a 90 minute ride in to shore. . . . man after about 15 minutes, I was reeling. . . a mad dash to the galley head and about 10 minutes spent in there. . . . have never been sick before or since. . . not sure if it was the odd motion of that boat or the night lunch. . . bad enough of an experience that I still remember it. . . like I remember those great evenings as the light fades and we were interisland in Indonesia. . . wind matched our speed and it was perfectly calm. . . ice cold San Miguel tasting great after a hot day at work. . . that first Panama Canal transit. . . . even the travel I do now via air would never happen without my having gone to KP. . . perfectly comfortable traveling to any country in the world. . . . and figuring out what to do once I get there. . .oh, and to do it and not only is the travel and experience paid by someone else, but getting paid to do it, too. Never gets old. . . I remember on my first ship for Sea Year. Myself and a couple of the crew were ashore in Hong Kong, sitting in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon. One of the old timers looked at me and told me to look around. Then he told me to realize that every one else in that lobby paid a bunch of money to be there, but WE were getting PAID to be there. . . even on that measly Cadet salary. . . yeah, never forgot that.
     
  6. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Very true about what can affect you. I have been on and around boats, sail and engine, various sizes, since when I was a kid, and on various calm or disturbed water. Never seasick, airsick, carsick, roller coaster sick. Just once, though, on a blazing hot summer day, sitting in an open mike boat on an oily, yaw-y swell, no breeze, with diesel exhaust everywhere, waiting in line to make up to the boarding ladder and platform of a Navy carrier on the hook in the Bay of Cadiz, I had what would be called a queasy moment. I just felt really odd, and realized I could be sick, but thankfully made it through. The inner ear and the stomach have odd ways of talking to each other.

    I appreciated the descriptions of various around-the-world experiences above!
     
  7. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    My first close-encounter was travelling down the west coast USA in 30-ft swells. I was feeling fine until I went into a storage locker and the stuffy air combined with the motion started turning my stomach. I made a bee line for outside and the fresh air made it all OK.

    My favorite sea-sick story isn’t mine but worthwhile.

    My Dad was on a WestPac cruise waaaaaay back in the day. They were around the edge of some cycolone (don’t know which) were being tossed around pretty good. He said he was feeling fine but made a head call to see a large amount of the previous meal sloshing around on the floor. He said it just stuck in his head and he made all the way back to the Radio Room and lost it as he opened the door. He said he made the mistake of putting his hand over his mouth which then acted like a fog applicator to spray his lunch everywhere. The funniest part was his watch mate ducking behind the radio console, closing his eyes, covering his ears and repeating “I don’t see it, I don’t hear it. I don’t see it, I don’t hear it, I don’t see it, I don’t hear it …”
     
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  8. KP20

    KP20 New Member

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    Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my questions and share your experiences. I accepted my appointment and am looking forward to having my own sea stories one day :)
     
  9. Physicsguru

    Physicsguru Member

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    Welcome to the Tigers! We're looking forward to seeing you in August.
     
  10. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Congratulations and welcome to the experience. I hope it ends up being better than you expected. Just keep an eye on the prize and remember that Plebe Year doesn't last forever. . .

    On and the stories, we are just sharing the ones that are acceptable in mixed company. . . .
     

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