A Life of a Container Vessel Captain: Part 2 of 4

A Life of a Container Vessel Captain: Part 2 of 4

8/21/2014 Umut Türker 2026 Times Read

As one captain wrote, he gets fresh air, sees the sunrises and sunsets, the stars at night, and has nice conversations over dinner. Watching DVDs is something that the personnel do in their spare time (as there is no reception available for television). Because there is no television (and, of course, no daily newspapers) there is no stress from hearing or reading about crises, accidents, killings, financial turmoil, etc. There are no telemarketers calling you while you are in the shower, and asking you to buy a subscription to a magazine. Life is free from outside stress for up to eight months out of the year.


The pay is attractive; in the U.S., the median salary for captains is almost USD 70,000, and Captain Whelan earns about GBP 60,000 for six months' work. A Canadian website says that the average salary for a ship's captain is CAD 100,000 and that the salary can be as high as CAD 150,000. Even a deckhand usually earns CAD 45,000 and can earn as much as CAD 80,000. For all, a love of the sea and lots of experience are helpful; for a ship's captain, going to a maritime academy is a must.


However, work is what they do. They are on call 24 hours each day, and they can be at sea for many months out of the year. When they are young, this may not be a concern, but as they grow older and if they have the time to meet and marry someone, and even have a family, it can take a toll. Moreover, piracy has always been a concern and an ever-increasing reality now. A lot of time is spent poring over charts and reviewing security procedures and concerns.


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And work is what they do. In addition to highly technical tasks such as 1) monitoring sonar and navigational aids 2) steering and operating the vessel using radio, depth finder, radar, lights, buoys and lighthouses and 3) calculating sighting of land, using electronic sounding devices and charts, they also have to know how to manage people by 4) directing and coordinating activities of the crew, such as in loading and unloading, operating signaling devices, and repairing defective equipment.