Work & Holiday maritime jobs Down Under?
April 22, 2011 7:36 PM   Subscribe

If I were to do a Work and Holiday Visa in New Zealand/Australia what jobs could I reasonably expect to get that allow me to legitimately log USCG Sea Time and and gain other valuable maritime experience?

So, I've already jumped away from my life in the USA for the last 3 months. I find myself here in Kiwi Land about to do a working-sail on a square rigger to Fiji, New Cal, and then Vanuatu, before returning to New Zealand. I have no return ticket and nothing (other than perhaps homesickness) pushing me to return home.

I've not really tested my sea legs yet, but something tells me that I really want to jump full bore into a maritime career (as I posted previously I'm also considering going back home and trying to get into the Merchant Marines or something like that).

I'm 25, almost 26, and it occurs to me that the time to do some Work & Holiday Visas is now. Maybe I can combine the two impulses: backpacking wonder lust and maritime career advancement?

So in all honesty, could I find jobs while backpacking around down-under that would allow me to improve my nautical resume and work towards the 360 days logged at sea?


Where would be the best places to look or best jobs to look for? Should I start in New Zealand or Australia?

Some additional considerations:

*** Fitness. For the last 2 weeks I've been doing maintenance work on the square rigger we're about to sail and I realize that the last 3 years of cubical work and preceding 4 years at college have done my body and coordination no favors. I'm not as fit or as sure footed as the average amature-sailor I'm with. I am also not the most experienced or coordinated with a tool in my hand (but I'm learning).

My spirit and my mind, however, are facinated and enthralled with navigation, helmsmanship, logistics and the other aspects of life at sea, and I WANT to get better and fitter.

So I figure I'd need to work my way up: take some work and adopt a lifestyle that will improve my fitness and experience. But I don't think I can hack a truely salty sea job off the bat.

***Career Wise, I really want to work my way to be a Deck Officer in the mid term (Cruise, Container ship, Tug... doesn't matter), but my dream goal (retirement?) would be to own my own eco-tourism business of some sort on my own sailboat, taking people (tourists and/or researchers) to explore coastal and marine wildlife.

So I'm interested in touristy/wildlife jobs, but again, I want to work towards those 360 logable days at sea if possible.

***Money, Fortunately I have a sizable chunk of savings I could utilize for this work & holiday adventure, especially if the experience would be beneficial to my future career. But obviously, I'd prefer to take jobs that pay me, or at least are no cost to me.
posted by DetonatedManiac to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Without knowing of the specific employment conditions or the requirements of the USCG, I think that it depends on ultimately what kind of maritime work you most want in the short to medium term. Tasmania has a strong maritime heritage and Hobart services some Antarctic fleets. The training academies in Hobart are apparently well regarded.

Ordinarily, I'd recommend North Queensland for more tourist focused work as the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands see large numbers of visitors every year. Unfortunately, Queensland in general and North Queensland in particular have been severely affected by recent flooding and cyclones. The Australian dollar is also very high. These factors are expected to keep the tourist away.
posted by dantodd at 10:12 PM on April 22, 2011

Thinking slightly sideways here, and approaching from the perspective of a different nationality - in order to log my seatime, it needs to go in my official logbook (for commercial ships NOT a yachting logbook) and be accompanied by a testimonial for watchkeeping time. Five minutes research finds me US forms for small vessels, which will not help you with trying to get seatime that can count towards an STCW 95 ticket (for those container ships and so on). (e.g. this refers to seatime on vessels up to 100 GT, whereas the last entry in my Discharge Book is a square rigger of more than 300 GT.)

So whatever job you can find, if you're looking for commerical seatime (time that will count if you do go the Merchant Marine route) you won't be able to count it unless you can get your Discharge Book or national equivalent first.

I would tend to say, take the experience, you won't regret it. Learn your nautical knots and how to not spill your coffee when rolling 30°. Learn how to stow the clew of a square sail and you'll be one up on me. And then check your eligibility for a Working Holiday visa, head for Auckland or the Bay of Islands and see if there's any work going (maybe not, if it's the middle of winter when you get back) and see what kind of seatime you can make it count towards.
posted by Lebannen at 3:58 AM on April 23, 2011

A friend of mine with his skipper's licence worked a season on a boat doing the rounds of the Whitsundays on a working holiday visa.

He loved it. He also said that telling young ladies he worked on a sailing boat was as if he had rubbed himself in superstrength pheromone.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:09 AM on April 24, 2011

Thanks for the advice so far. The info about the STCW-95 is useful and suggests 2 alternative courses of action.

1) while I'm already in the hemisphere apply for my work & holiday visa immediately. Enjoy it as a life experience and simply take whatever sailing, nautical, and/or on the water jobs I can get for the personal experience. No "official" USCG / career experience gained. Decide on continuing career path upon return.

2) Go back to US after this trip, work towards getting STCW cert and do work and holiday in a few years, focused on loggable / career enhancing marine work.

When written like that, #1 seems the obvious choice to me.

My only followup is: are there any tips on particular jobs (not requiring certification) I should seek out / avoid on the grounds of having especially pertinent / useless experience? Or at that point is any job on the water going to be about the same?

Thanks again for the advice!
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:46 PM on April 25, 2011

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