Can Seafarers Stay Motivated When Planning to Quit Sailing?

After sailing for certain years, maritime professionals have a tendency to look for good opportunities on shore to have a more “settled” life. This has always been the case with seafarers and currently it seems like the feeling is shared with many a young sailors alike. It is a feeling that has more or less come to every seafarer in the maritime fraternity. Moreover, in the present condition of the shipping industry, maritime jobs are becoming less preferred by seafarers.

In such situations, the curious case of “How to start over?” or “Is it the right time to change the career?” is dealt with the same attitude with maritime professional of every rank.

It is a common scenario where a seafarer has completed about 10 years of his or her sailing career, started a new family, promoted to senior position at work, dealt with hectic work schedules and commitments, and confronted sailing stress and life’s other misfits. It is at this juncture that a seafarer starts looking for more satisfying opportunities on shore.

There is this constant feeling that it’s time to break free and change things as desired, but sadly the feeling is plagued by the ideology of “Starting Over”. Most of the seafarers are well convinced that it is already too late for a transition in their career.

The fact remains that the apathy to “start all over again” confronts seafarer many a times throughout their sailing career. They talk about it all the time but really cannot decide what to choose from, of course, there are exceptional ones who actually pull it off smoothly. But we all know for a fact that it can be “done” and we are never “stuck” to the kind of career we had chosen earlier – Sailing.

Representation Image – Photograph by Delimajunel

Sometime seafarers also feel they cannot get out of the present situation due to other priorities in life or have the fear of disappointing the family due to the shift in career, leaving a well paid job for a paltry sum on shore, taking a break from the regular salaries, or going back to college for higher studies. Regardless of the situation or age, it is evident from past experiences that the seafarers are usually “strong-hearted” people who’d never look back once they take up something else.

Simply put it this way, it’s never late for a seafarer to break free and start with something new, but yes it is not that easy as it may sound, especially with the additional responsibility to support a family.

Pursuing a career shift will require a prepared mind and focused belief in oneself to overcome the mental blockades. Let’s take an example where a young seafarer who was diligent and dedicated towards his job got fired for his lack of experience at it, ended up being in the senior position at one of the most respectable management positions ashore in a few years time for the same company. How did he achieve it at such a young age having so little experience? Well, the answer lies in planning the way ahead and creating goals regardless of the age, level of experience or the current situation.

If compared to the ship’s passage plan it can be seen that adhering to life’s plans are no different. There are obstructions, competing traffic, anti-social elements, etc. in real life as well. If a seafarer can handle such difficult situations at sea, he or she can definitely handle obstacles while planning a second stage of life as well.

To start with, it’s not that seafarers have to quit sailing and sit back at home trying to figure out “what next”. Instead creating a plan to pursue that passion will actually help to get there.

Start working on the goals taking one step at a time. To make the transition easier set it on short term levels and keep upgrading once you have reached a certain stage.

It can help if deadlines are made since as seafarers we are required to be disciplined at everything we do. Being terrified of the change is not going to help. Yes it will be challenging for seafarers and their families but it’s not impossible.

So instead of being disappointed and regretting later it is better to give life an honest try.

marine engineers

Of course there are seafarers who are of the opinion that it will not be feasible or credible for them to change over from what they have been doing for so long. For example a seasoned ship master won’t be motivated enough to be an authority elsewhere apart from effectively commanding a ship or an experienced  marine engineer who is an expert in his field does not wish to loosen his skills in areas other than marine engineering.  It’s what they are really good at and wish to adhere within their periphery.

But these examples can only be taken up as inspirational attributes for seafarers who want to do what they really are comfortable in.

For the ambitious ones, it’s never too late to start all over again.

Have you as a seafarer ever been confronted by the desire to look for more “stable” life onshore? Have you been successful in doing so? Do let us know your experiences.


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About Author

Bikram Pal Singh – is a professional mariner and blogger. He has sailed extensively serving on various Oil tankers and Offshore Vessels. Currently a Chief Officer, he enjoys reading and compiling notes about critical shipboard operations and crew psychology. When not sailing, he loves backpacking, is an ardent adventurer and a certified diver.

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  1. I think you all are right,but believe me,most of the people,including the seafarers families take them for granted.
    Anyway,can you please guide me regarding the life on board Dp vessels,i have been sailing on board Tankers throughout my Career,and,now i feel saturated,from,sailing.i have been sailing as An electrical officer.

  2. Hi folks. I’m vishno kumar ex.merchant navy deck officer. I quit shipping 2 years before.
    I’m in to export business right now. I’m earning better than a master who spent half of his life at sea. I’m just making good money in export business in jus a couple of year.

    All we need is money to survive. Money just doesn’t give happiness.
    Happiness is when you are living with your lovable family.

    Ultimately whatever money you have earned, you need a lovable family to be with.

    Being onboard ship, you can make money, but you can’t be with your lovable family.

    Whatever money you make from shipping field, you can make the same money ashore also. Opportunities are there.

    Shipping is like a drug addiction. Easily you can’t come out of it.


    With best regards

    S.vishno kumar
    S Groups export consultancy
    Chennai, Mumbai, kolkatta.

  3. Dear sir,

    First of all sincere regards and tons of accolades to you for such an auspicious article, a must go through for every young seafarers and fellow men.
    I am a graduate from T.S Chanakya, having Mumbai University degree with me. I hv got 2 contract experience as a 3/Off (bulk and container) from MOL. What I feel, shipping now-a-days is no longer a lucrative career as it used to be half a decade before with inflation at high and perks & remuneration at its low.

    Sir, to be very honest i don’t feel self-satisfied with this profession having so many stringent rules prevailing, at sometimes being surrounded by few fellow being who bring down one’s morale drastically.
    I have seen many of my seniors going for the MBA into logistics and supply, chain management. Does it really help them having account of global exposure within us…???

    I look forward doing MBA in finance but felling dilemma, which way to head exactly.

    Kindly show some guidance.

    Thanking in anticipation.

    Best Regards.

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