How to become a Master Mariner

8 Replies



How many Captains out there running yachts came from the Merchant Navy,are you really qualified;this is the time it takes to become a Master Mariner,5 years. 1 year at pre sea cadet course.Credits in Maths and Science a plus. 2 years at sea as a deck cadet learning ship operations,stowage,stability,and watch keeping. Then ashore for training in Fire fighting,survival,radar,radio. This is followed by another 7 month refresher course at college for you 3/2 mates ticket. then back to sea for 18 months as a junior watch officer. then back to college for refresher ready for 1st Mates and modular training in ship management,medical and more radar. 1 more year at sea as a senior officer could sail as 1st mate but more likely as second. Then back to college for six months refresher before sitting your Masters. So five years with in between gaining vital experience at sea in a practical manner and as a cadet learning your deck first while working your way up. Many skippers out there have yachtmasters only, with Navigation and ancillary training only,firefighting,medical/radio,etc. No real ship operations or management training,no stability in real terms.but with gross tonnage on some vessels being small with no cargo space then a vessel of 50 plus metres could be yours if you have a 200 GRT yachtmasters,one is pleasure industry and one is commercial,now Merchant  Navy are more than qualified so can board your vessels but you cant board a Merchant ship in command,so if it was uprated in rules to standardise everyone, many of you would find the need to spend many hours and more money and time to achieve this.Yachts are vessels that need to be foreign going if taking full advantage of the seasons but so would you skippers if rules change to Foreign going class 1 Master Mariners.And Insurance companies well may be the ones calling the shots here.      

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Fitcarraldo 1124506660

Skipper, who pays for all this training? Is it the individual, or his employer?

skipper1 1124527442

Well lets say they change the rules,usually there is a phase in time and a date set two years or so forward,now if you work for an owner or a company and they are decent then they can ask you to sign an agreement that if you get funded in part by them and the rest through grants you must complete a year or so service with your company.Now all your sea service will count but you will need to study whatever MCA would feel appropriate to bring you into new regulations,but they are very good and helpfull and they do give discretion,it could all change if these accidents keep happening,its these things which bring notice through insurance companies and they may think lets improve the training and see if this helps in safety aspect,we must all remember your ticket can be taken away and maybe less tolerance will be shown.Last week a Master of a Mini Bulker was jailed for four months by UK court because he crossed a traffic zone incorrectly,he was'nt causing problems to other shipping at the time and instead crossed at the wrong angle,you may only cross at right angle these traffic lanes.This was a strong message for Masters that a warning will not be coming,straight penalties now happening.Yachts must observe the same rules as you know.Heavy fines.Ticket suspended for 1 or 2 years or more,Prison.What do you think would you prefer Masters given more training and uprated to Class1,every five years you must revalidate.



skipper1 1124528123

By the way a Mini Bulker could be  50 metres carrying 1000 tons.carry four men,not such a big ship.

shaft1279-203942 1124548485

I am interested however in knowing how many +50m Motor Yachts you are aware of that are less than 200grt, as I can't see how this is possible without fiddling the numbers (which I know happens occasionally, but is not the rule); for example the first boat I worked on was a Semi-displacement 42m Heesen of 295grt.  I do hope for your sake you haven't made the error of confusing Gross with Net tonnage, which I believe (but what would a Yachtsman know) places more emphasis on the cargo & passenger carrying capacity of the vessel.  If this is the case - oops!

But seriously I thought the MCA had given us a ticket and training that they felt appropriate in the Master Yachts 3000t (or Class 4 when I did it); if this isn't true then a lot of us have wasted a lot of time and money, and I'll have a lot of trouble coaxing the deck crew into continuing to work towards it!  Sure there wasn't a great deal of depth gone into on some of the short courses like 'Stability & Construction', and the RYA 'Ocean Master' is I'm sure only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Celestial Navigation, but that is what they felt was necessary to command Yachts and we have done it.  Furthermore to sit the Oral I had to prove 5 years of sea time.

Having said this, I want to keep learning and it would be nice if in the future the MCA accommodated this, perhaps by having a 5000t ticket that you could sit after a few years of command holding the 3000t, with some additional short courses and an oral at the end.  But not everyone wants (or needs) to run a 90m Yacht, so I'm not sure how popular this would be.

At the moment the Master Mariner option is not open to us through the MCA system.  I have had the fortune of working with several MM's and have enjoyed them imparting their knowledge and experience without being patronising, (except one Captain who used to enjoy me struggling to work out the compass error - I'll get you back Edmund !)   For three of them it was their first time on a Yacht, and I'd like to think I taught them a fair bit as well.

In my opinion the MM ticket is not a guarantee of safety, otherwise the Commercial sector would be accident and incident free, and all Mariners must combine their training with natural prudence and constant diligence to the task of running a safe vessel.  The ISM system has advanced this cause considerably in the Yachting sector, and maybe it should be extended to private vessels and smaller commercial ones.  But I do not accept the proposition that the current Yacht tickets are insufficient for the vessels we run (or hope to...).  We are not muppets.


Yhottie 1124564224

Dear Shaft

so what are your views on THREE  yachts sunk in a week; one by an individual having a second bite @ the cherry.   No steering or engine probs reported, in excellent weather ~ and thats just in the Med.

Add the Mirabella  pantomine etc  etc & you have to appreciate the views of other professionals

ps  perhaps the owners need to pay for all this training ~ it defies any logic to place a less than highly experienced Master in  command of a megga bucks " vision "


skipper1 1124565179

25 years ago a ship could carry a Master with no ticket HT and there were middle trade as well in the same position,do you think that more accidents happened then in percentage terms or not.Of course accidents will happen from time to time and not that many are without the human element,so what will you feel should be done to prevent what has happened recently,grounding,fullspeed into an island,and a 250 ft vessel with 20 ft draft taking the inside and we now know dangerous line passing an anchored vessel.Master Mariners ticket your right could make no differance if the Captain makes the wrong decision as these did,this is not really an accident but negligence. Now my point was not superiority,was not meant in any way,if this was the case I would not respect ocean racers and the dedicated sailors taking on weather most of us try to avoid.But I believe many yachts are sailing with people less than serious about the job,and more concerned about the prestige,you take care to encourage your crew to better themselves as one day they might make a Skipper and that should be done.I can remember deck hands from the merchant who had lifeboat ticket training running Private yachts and some of them had more bull than a qualified master might show,I know there are many naturals out there who would struggle these exams but in seamanship they can be amazing,a feeling for the sea that cant be taught,but I expect you notice these ones in your crew on occasion.A small ship Captain of course can outdo most master mariners(Deep sea) when it comes to playing around the coast,running inside sandbars and entering rivers,and small harbours with close proximity ship handling,big ships are taking  a pilot on board because of compulsive pilotage.Very often big ship masters do not have small ship handling experience, if they become pilots I have seen them leave the shiphandling to the Master on small ships as things go so much quicker,when  berthing or swinging,usually ex small ship Masters are pilots on the smaller rivers going deep in. I know your three MM friends would feel exposed on a smaller ship than they may be used to but only in the sense that everything seems much smaller,compact etc,and that your vessel handles quicker with bridge controls and faster response times,but thats all, they would have to learn small ship handling, and in the Merchant mostly its Tugmasters,Supplyboats,Coasters and of course Pilots who actually do most handling .My mail was'nt selling Master Mariner class 1 The yachting industry boat for boat has more skippers about then any other industry I believe. the training given is not inferior but the same as you say as the Merchant in respect of the needed nautical knowledge for the industry.Maybe my point was something like this,when you go in the Merchant navy,in some respects its possible to think this is the more serious type of sea career,no frills,no parties of guests,but just plain sailing so to speak.Now there are those who end up on cruise ships and theirs like yours offers a more glamourous and cleaner enviroment.How many times in passing have seamen looked over to a yacht or Cruise ship and thought 'Lucky so and so's' then turned back for their cabin with some grey painted bulkhead.Now Cruise ships and yachts avoid bad weather and season generally where its calm,whereas Merchant ships do have to keep going in allsorts.At sea in a big ship the working of a vessel can be seen and takes time to get used to,most often a Yacht is so much  better designed for seakeeping than a ship which is full of compromise. When in the deep sea with heavy weather and you see a ship rolling with containers loaded as high as the bridge I bet you would prefer your Yacht. Class1 MM's are different, their decisions at sea are vital ( I am not belittling yours),or all these containers go overboard,a cargo can shift and the vessel can assume heavy listing,knowing what to do,how to effect stability by entering the hold and by hand shifting and securing heavy loads broken from their securing ties  or pumping ballast around whilst a vessel is rolling,these are decisions that the Master will have to make usually  confering with the officers and enginers,the thing is here is that stabilty training is now essential for you to know if your vessel will roll over or not ,a Motor yacht can assume a heavy list angle as well,will you be able to work out if she can remain afloat when rolling by your stability book besides your gut feeling.How much ocean rescue are you trained in, can you prepare your vessel for towing and do you know how to tow and secure bridles,one day you might need to, when I say this I ask do you get this training when doing your courses for your tickets, I know its not included in most courses except Tugmasters but I believe and have always taught my crews how to understand what could be needed if we are giving or getting a tow, ,but how much time is given to ocean rescue,not picking up a person but rescuing another vessel.You see I believe that if all seamen could try other sea industries,the certain aspects that each has to offer would improve the seaman.I cant say if it would prevent negligence,I just know that it has to be got right each time in our business with a sober attitude,or it could be fatal.How to keep that sober attitude with everybody I just dont know.You sound serious enough,but lacking in good manners perhaps.

Alexander1-205957 1124634380

Hi there;

Interesting and appropiate stuff! Just a point, I believe the UK RYA Yachtmaster certificate, commercially endorsed or not, is valid for a 24 metre vessel, or 200grt vessel, whichever is the greater !!

The "real" MCA certificate world is a long way away from the "yacht endorsed" certificates; having said that private yacht Captains have to have a lot of talent that merchant Captains don't. This is a highly valued skill level too surely?

For example in pure navigation terms, the private yacht Captain will probably have a much more adventurous sailing programme than the merchant mariner. Unpredictable routes, changing at the last moment or entering anchorages at all times of the night.


Let the discussion continue!

shaft1279-203942 1125519613

Much as I hate to breathe life into what is a fairly pointless and poisonous discussion, I couldn't help but notice the relevance to this thread :

Hmmmm  Maybe it ain't so easy after all.


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