Jim has worked as a seaman for 16 years. ‘I love this job’ he says. Work as a seaman in the RRS James Cook means you have to do all sorts of tasks on board: work on the bridge (helping with safe navigation); work on the deck (deploying scientific equipment); and drive the winches with the wireless box or in the cabin with the computer control systems (see how much wire is required). Seamen have also to take care of the equipment (the cranes, the life boat…) and, in general, they have to take care of the maintenance of the decks. Don’t forget that they have to tie the ship and drop the anchor when the ship arrives at the harbour! Jim works at sea for two months and then has two months on land.
The downside of becoming a seaman is the home sickness. Jim misses his family, but he tries to be mentally strong because he must be away from home for months. He gets very excited when it is almost time to go home, because he will see his wife and son again. When we asked him about sea-sickness, he answered that he is lucky because in 16 years he has never had sea-sickness! On the other hand, Jim tells us that this job is good because it is interesting. You can see the world and you meet loads of different people. This job offers to you a variety of life and it is a good job for the outdoor type.
Jim started life at sea in the navy but retrained for the merchant navy. The Small Ships Training Group (in Rochester) enabled him to take courses to make the transition by providing advise, funding and support. Working on this ship requires very specific skills especially as it is so specialised for scientific research.
There are opportunities for advancing through the ranks if you want to. An Ordinary Seaman can progress to Able Seaman after two and a half years at sea, then you can with further experience become a Boswain, and if you are prepared to go through more training you can become an officer.
There is no doubt though that it is a job which you get better and better at with more experience.