How to Quit Sea Life and Settle Ashore?

Note : This article, by no means, tries to undermine the fact that merchant navy is a great career option, which is both financially rewarding and professionally satisfying. We as mariners are indebted to this great field for the amazing opportunities and experiences it has given to us. The article only makes an attempt to address some of the common concerns which seafarers have at a certain point in their shipping careers.

There are several reasons seafarers quit a promising and well-rewarding life at sea. Leaving an active sea career is not an easy decision, yet hundreds of merchant navy officers have dared to trespass this unforgiving territory of shore jobs and have not only conquered them but also remained undefeated in their new endeavors.

Only those who lack the courage and conviction attribute others success to luck or fate; but those mariners who did not wait to be Masters or Chief engineers and had full faith in them have hung their sea boots early and secured a long lasting shore career for themselves.

Usually there are two types of seafarers at the sea. There is one group of seafarers who is happy to continue at sea and in fact enjoy sailing, and then there is another group of seafarers who want to leave, but are scared to choose the option of settling ashore due to a lot of uncertainties associated with this decision.

If you belong to the later group, let me assure you that once you decide to step out of this comfort zone (your sea career), hard work, dedication, and a belief in yourself can take you on a path of unprecedented success. Living at sea life and settling ashore might be difficult but it’s not impossible for sure!

seafarer
Image credits: ITF Global

For those who are planning to have a more settled life at shore, it’s not unusual to have these questions from time to time whenever they decide to quit sea:

1. Do I have the necessary capital to start a business?

2. What kind of a business or profession should I pursue after quitting sea?

3. Will I ever be able to resume my sea career again if I stay away from sea life for too long?

4. What happens if my sailing license expires?

5. What would I do if I don’t like my new career?

6. Can I survive in the cut-throat world of business/other shore profession?

7. A lot many seafarers have quit sea, lost money, and returned to their sea careers, what if I am one of them?

The basic hurdles must be crossed and answers must be sought to make the decision to quit sea as easy as possible. It is also important to lay to rest the feeling of insecurity of your family members who have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.

I will try to answer some of the common queries seafarer and hope it will help reduce some anxiety and lessen the burden of wasteful thoughts in your head while you plan to settle ashore.

 1.  Do I have the necessary capital to start a business?

If you are planning to start a new business at an early stage of your sea carrier and there is no family business support then there are several options available today.

a) Start a low cost franchise business and various choices are available on:

International Franchise websites:

You can look for franchise providers in your respective country. Attending events such as Franchise Expo can also help to get into the field of your choice.

b) Secure a loan from banks: Today Banks are falling over each other looking for entrepreneurs with good business ideas to whom they can lend money. If you have a great idea and the right attitude, approach a bank to finance you for your goals.

c) Other low capital options include:

Becoming a-

i)  Property dealer

ii)  Financial consultant

iii)  Online trader in equity and commodity.

Option (i) and (ii) are relatively safe and option (iii) requires good knowledge and expertise.

These are several other options available, many in the maritime field itself. Search around and follow your passion.

 2. What kind of a business or profession I should pursue after quitting sea?

This is entirely a decision you will have to make after giving due consideration to your temperament, your confidence level, communication skills and networking skills.

A little bit of introspection and consultation with your family members will exclude you from the group of people, who are not successful/serious in business, given up too soon, and returned back to sea. Your family is your pillar of support which you would desperately need while quitting the sea.

Also, in case business is not your cup of tea, there are several options available in the maritime field or away from this line of profession altogether.

For e.g. several merchant navy officers have successfully:

a)    Cleared civil services exams and are working on high profile government jobs

b)   Done MBA programs and joined as CEOs & MDs of shipping companies, banks and other private organizations

c)  Done specialized shipping courses from England and other European Nations and taken up jobs as surveyors, vetting Inspectors, Agents Brokers and many other allied fields in maritime industry.

Institutes like Lloyd Maritime academy UK offers many international programs for serving Merchant navy officers. Moreover, MBA in shipping and transport logistics is being offered by several International universities and for young officers it can be very rewarding.

d)  Hobbies that you have abandoned several years ago can be pursued again as a profession. There’s nothing like having a career which has also been your passion for life. Some of the Merchant navy officers I personally know are successful writers and singers.

 3. Will I ever be able to resume my sea career again if I stay away from sea\ life for too long ?

It depends whether you left sea life for good or took a temporary position ashore to meet short-term goals. In case you left sea for good, give your new profession all that you have got with a single objective of making it successful. This question will keep haunting you if you pursue your alternative profession half-heartedly and continue doubting your abilities.

In case you took a job ashore temporarily and have lost touch with your profession during the extended season, you can always join back at a lower position till you regain your confidence or do a revalidation course ashore from a good institute (not popular institute) and join back confidently in the same position in which you had quit sea.

4. What happens if my license expires?

If you are successful ashore, taken permanent retirement from sea career and have met your objectives ashore then such questions need not worry you. If you are still struggling and losing money in business and like to go back to sea then you need to renew you license after attending a revalidation course and join possibly in a lower position if acceptable to you.

5.  What if I do not like my new career?

Don’t just grab any and every job that comes your way after quitting sea. Frankly it is better to be patient and wait for the right opportunity based on your own self-assessment. For example, you may be an excellent administrator but end up as a bad teacher in a maritime training facility, or you may be an excellent trainer but end up falling flat on your face whenever trying to fit in into the shoes of an executive or administrator ashore. Employers too prefer the right man for the right job and sometimes some of them run a personality profile test to ensure you fit the frame. Nevertheless it is never too late to make amends and take an informed decision.

 6. Can I survive in the cut-throat world of business/other shore profession?

Initially, it would be difficult to adjust to the way shore people work. There is no denying the fact that an average seafarer is honest, disciplined, and sincere. He can easily get irritated with people ashore who either have a wrong way of working or are inefficient or both. So if you are planning to quit sea, prepare yourself mentally and immune yourself from small irritants as above if you must decide to settle down ashore and do business. The sooner you adjust the better for you. In professions other than own business, shed your introvert-cloak and improve your networking skills with less sycophancy.

7. A lot many seafarers have quit sea, lost money, and returned to their sea careers, what if I am one of them?

This is the biggest demoralizing factor responsible for dissuading potential seafarers from switching over to shore life and hanging their sea boots once and for all. It it very  important to make attempts to stay motivated while quitting your sea life.

The only suggestion that I can provide here is to look around you and get inspired by successful mariners rather than following examples of people who haven’t been quite successful at it. Had these people planned their shore life as professionally as they did for  their sea life, their story would have been different.

Most of these maritime portals, shipping agencies, and companies around the world are being run successfully by people from the maritime fraternity and that should be inspirational enough for those who are planning a successful career ashore.

At the end, it all boils down to what you really want from your life and how far you can go to achieve your dreams.

Let us know your views/comments below. Have doubts or questions? Feel free to ask us at info@marineinsight.com.

48 Comments

  1. currently me working as a marine engineer on ships.but don’t like the job in the E/R. I’ve been trying to adjust but don’t know how long I’ve to drag my life with this. Is there any way to switch over to a bridge officer at this stage ? currently me holding a class 3 CoC.

  2. Unfortunately- you cannot. Just like requirement for Marine engineering, you have to fulfill certain requirement to become a deck officer specially minimum age criteria. If you still fits in that, you can start all over.

  3. i am sailing as an experinced fourth engineer, having class 4 ticket from india, i am planning to move to newzeland to get some shore job in some marine industry.Can u please advise if u know any relevenat shore industry related to marine like shipards, yatch building docks, or any marine institute..

    or do u think it wl be difficult to get a GOOD JOB UNLESS U STUDY SOME NEW PROGRMA IN NEWZELAND.

    PLEASE ADVISE I AM CONFUSED, MY WIFE WILL BE STUDYING IN NEWZELAND FROM NEXT MONTH, SO I PLAN TO GO, AFTER ONE MORE SAILING.TO SETTLE.

  4. To the Above comments , can only advice. Start loving your job and you will do the best in what ever you do . Look at the famous stalls on the road side. The guys who prepare delicasies on those street carts finish their stuff in hours. they do their job with immense passion and love for their job whether Deck or Engine Love your job and you would not need to change to either side. What if changing to deck and you feel the other side of the grass seemed greener ??

  5. Perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind when making the switch is to rightly identify, as far as possible, what you would like to do. Sometimes people wish to quit sailing because they realize that the only thing that drew them to sailing was money but now they want more from life. It is really unfortunate that they make the same mistake again while switching to a shore job. This is especially important when you are making the switch at a later stage in life or your career.

  6. Good article. I made this transition with great success a little over a year ago. I now work full time from home and loving it. For people looking to make the switch I would recommend saving as much money as you can, don’t blow it all in ports, accept the fact that you will likely make less starting out but can now pursue other things that will help you move up, and also understand that you’ll have a few more living expenses.

    Besides the money aspects of it, I love having the time with the family now and being able to be around for things and help out around the house.

  7. Thanks a lot Rick for sharing your experience. Wishing you all the very best for your future endeavours.

  8. Hi i am Siddharth Rawat an experienced 2nd mate. i am having an indian COC. I plan of making a switch to cruise liners, but unfortunately i don’t find a single company which offers an job for indians in deck department. Can you please enlighten me on possible options of companies which hire indian COC officers into main stream cruise liners. Whether this an good option.Also i have been trying to find a lot of specialization courses for higher studies in India and abroad. Can you please share some info on the type of high position jobs that i can acquire and the type of courses required for such except civil services examinations. Hope of an favorable reply. Thx

  9. i quited sea life 4 years ago. Now, i have worked for ship supply and repair company in my country. i fell happyness. Because i can stay near my family ahthough i get money less than i work on ship.

  10. I am a second officer sailing on chem tankers..actually if you could advise which course to choose from.
    Have applied for masters in maritime law from Swansea univ and MSc in shipping and port management from Hong Kong university.got offer letter from both. But now little confused on which course to select. Though I am more inclined towards doing law but still a word of advice will be helpful.

  11. Re: Query regarding calling cards:

    Hello Sir,

    Would you be kind enough to guide me with regards online calling cards? My husband went sailing 2 months back and the ship usually transits the U.S. waters. It is really difficult to find calling cards at certain ports and the Satellite phone is way too expensive. I have heard about online calling cards, but haven’t used any till date. Could you recommend any that caters to our need of calling from U.S to india?

    Also, if I buy any, how will the Sim card reach him onboard?
    Please reply ASAP.

    Thanks!

  12. Sir please I need your advice as regards this transition. Am currently working as a third officer onboard oil/chemical tanker ship. I really want to quit the sea career. Having been handling safety related duties as a third officer, and also having a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Electronics Engineering. I am planning to apply for post graduate diploma in Safety Engineering Technology in Canada. Please advice!

  13. Thank you so much for your great ideas & advised… I am 2nd officer, 12 years sailing at sea.. I am also planning for business investment.

  14. I am a 2nd officer onboard a transmix vessel, my friend call that. I should help him with advise on how to organise and set up a standard marine company..

    Can you advise on the above please

  15. Good day
    Thanks for some wise advice. I am working at sea since 1991.Presently I am working as a C/E in a product tanker.
    I have class 1 COC from Malaysia.
    As a Bangladeshi mariner, I haven’t enough scope to have a onshore job. I am very much interested to work as a vetting inspector .Please advise.

  16. GOOD DAY

    I LEFT SEA SERVICE ON 2009 AND JOINED SHORE JOB. NOW MY FINANCIAL CONDITION IS POOR. I SAILED AS THIRD ENGINEER. MY CLASS4 MOTOR COC EXPIRED ON 2012. I WANT TO SAIL BACK. KINDLY CAN I REVALIDATE MY COC AND JOIN BACK. I M HOLDING INDIAN COC. KINDLY HELP

  17. i’m about to complete my MARINE ENGINEERING in the next 4 months,i’m not intrested to go on sailing… Can anyone suggest me any jobs without persuing any other courses.Causei’m confused..

  18. Hello
    I am working as a motorman .I have a experiences of more then thirty months as a motorman. I am a commerce Graduate I am still finding difficult to cope up with engineering .
    I want to go for Shore jobs. Where I will be able to use my seatime experiences I am ready for the post Graduation studies as well .please suggest me for further studies or Shore job.

  19. Thanks for sharing this article and giving an honest review for the plethora of opportunities which are available for the people after they decide to quit their career. My advice to anyone who is thinking of leaving or doing something else in life would be to give it a proper thought. Nobody knows other than yourself what is good for you and would you want to do in life. Do some research. We have google at our disposal and most of the questions which are asked here can be easily answered if you do some research online. At the same time, there will be lot of people telling you that you are making a bad decision and it is not going to work but you have to listen to yourself and decide what is right for you. Once again, thanks for the article and keep writing sir. Your articles are inspiring.

  20. Hi, I am Richard M. Magallanes, 27 yrs old and a Filipino seafarer

    I don’t love my career at sea. So I build a business, tutorial service and renting our apartment to other people. and we also have other businesses.

    -> My advice is, you’ll never now what lies ahead weather at sea or shore, So better be ready at all times, have a health care and life insurance is a must.
    -> Start a business when you’re still young so that it won’t be hard to have a job again if you had been bankrupt in your business and it also an experience to try and fix the flaws you made at your first attempt in your business. Don’t make business when you’re old, because everything will be hard, financial, mentally, and spiritually. it will cause you frustration,
    -> If ever possible, have a partner who can help you in your daily expenses on your home.

    hope that helps

  21. Hello guys, I am currently onboard and planning to quit on my career, thats why im looking for answers or alternative jobs on land. The thing that i want now is to spend my life with my love ones because no one knows until when our life will be. Everytime i woke up in the morning here onboard it feels like im carrying the world on my shoulder. So i would like to ask what will be the alternative land based jobs related to our profession is best suited for us? Thanks in advance.

  22. I work as a Chief Cook since last 14years. I am planning to quit sea life and take up land jobs.. Kindly guide me which fields can be helpful for me in taking up my career from here. I am planning to work in hotel industry some where in Front Desk or as Floor Manager. Kindly let me know as what the best I can take up.

  23. Hello I am samridh sharma currently 3rd officer in merchant navy ships I m of 24 years and I have 1 year experience as 3rd officer .
    I am holding 2nd mate Indian coc but I want to settle in canada and I don’t know how to apply or do dis things and I am planning to do MBA in shipping transport and logistics from Canada so am I making a correct choice .

  24. For those who qualify like Electrician, Cook and Engineers. Please guys, 100% I believe you can do something, you can work on your own by opening some small business while you trigger big shoot. Don’t wait to be employed anymore after sea life, decide, make dicision

  25. Starting your business and follow your passion is a good avenue to leave a sea-going job, while it is true there are many considerations; it has been made easier with technology.

    People will buy your skills and knowledge when you offer your domain expertise; then running a business becomes easy. However you will also find competition everywhere when faster, better, cheaper business model do not work well in this day and age. Most business owner have the domain expertise but lack the sales and marketing skill sets; most importantly they neglect the need to create digital presence for their business.

    There are marketplaces today that can help and you can actually start selling your products and services online. Marketplaces such as e-Bay, Amazon, Alibaba and Marine Central helps businesses caters to different market segment.

    Most importantly is to find the marketplace that you can have the most targeted customer segment for the industry that you want to be in.

  26. I am planning to quite sea life
    to go into oil and gas in my
    country.I am not an officer yet but I am double sure that I will succeed with God by my side.

  27. Hi mariners,

    I started sailing in 2012 as 3rd mate and progressed through to 2nd mate 2 years later. I quit the sea-going life and joined a Tender assist drilling unit in the oil industry as a ballast control operator. I have never been so happy as I only do 28 days on and 28 off doing 12 hours shift and get paid more than what deck officers earn nowadays. Most of the offshore rig nowadays have phone service poles so communication with family is much easier.

    Best of luck everyone

  28. Hi myself imran Khan working on board as able bodied seaman,I m not happy with my job at sea so i want to quit this job as soon as possible and i live in mumbai so can u please suggest me for some kind of information,bcs I want to spend my remaining life at home with family,wife and my child so please suggest me something good thanks

  29. I am quitting sea career this year because in my country Nigeria seafarers are paid very low, imagine an Able seaman is paid $280 even lower and the career is tougher than the military set up here, the way they treat each other onboard, humiliation etc.Surviving with $280 in a month in my country is something else.i will quit to try something else because how long can one keep working for $280 and you have a family to feed,rent to pay, needs to meet etc. Then before two weeks, your family has started going for credit, then how long should one continue with such low salary even the vulcanizer is better than a seafarer in my country Nigeria, most of the seafarers in Nigeria believe in selling ship ROB bunker with the ship owner knowledge then they never care about the main salary but the ROB don’t come at all times and even the shipping companies are beginning to monitor that very closely. The ship owners are using people skills to get their jobs done at at low salary but they will get big Dollar rolling in to their account on a daily basis.i am tired of this career in my country Nigeria. How can a master earn $1200 /month. The career here is bounch of disappointment and a waste of time.

  30. Hi…I am thinking of quiting long enguage sea life as a container master.
    I would like to see ashore in marine related background.
    Kindly let me know of any suitable opening.

    Thank you very much.

  31. I am presently working as a third officer on container ships, but it really makes me frustrated. Being onboard is becoming difficult each day and i have been following blogs and discussion forums to find a way out and thats how i found your article. Your article clearly says everything gping through my mind right now.

    The thing is that i cannot find what to do after quiting. A shore job in a shippi g company would be great but opportunities are minimal for a junior officer Kindly guide me on opportunities in shipping companies for junior officers

  32. @Sachin: As you said, there is very less opportunity for junior level officers. However, you can directly ask your company if they have any opening for you as they will be the best person to help you out of this. Good luck.

  33. Gentlemen,

    Valuable discussion going on here. Would like to hear your opinions for a Master Mariner who has happily sailed for 38 years and now retired but looking for slightly relaxed employment opportunities in India.
    Any suggestions?

  34. MY FATHER HAS WORKED FOR 35 YEARS AS MOTOR MAN IN MERCHANT NAVY ,NOW HE IS BACK AND SAYING I WILL TAKE RETIREMENT,I DO NOT WANT TO GO AGAIN, PLEASE SUGGEST SOME JOB FOR HIM SO THAT HE BECOME ENGAGED SOMEWHERE BECAUSE BEING FREE MAKING HIM AN IRRITATED AND UNHAPPY PERSON, I WANT TO SUGGEST HIM SOME GOOD JOBES AS HE HAVE 35 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE,HE IS VERY HARD WORKING AND HOMEST BUT HE DO NOT WANT TO CONTINUE THIS SEA JOB ANYMORE,
    KINDLY SUGGEST SOME CAREER OPPURTUNITIES FOR HIM IN INDIA.
    THANK YOU

  35. quite hard to love your job at sea when u come across a**holes at every turn. a**hole superiors. a**hole companies. requirements by oil major. inspectors. most of your energy will be spent dealing with the a**holes.

  36. Every time I think to start business at home. But after 3 months when money get over I come back to the sea. Again and again…

  37. I’m deck cadet and I pursed my b.sc nautical science degree I wish to join shore job is there any possibility

  38. I do appreciate your insightful article. However, I will like you to please shed more light on shore based opportunities for ETO who have sailed and intend quitting seafaring. Kindly state the specific shore role and give examples of companies in India and the world over where ETOs can leverage their sea based experience to work.

    If ETOs require additional education to land such a role, kindly state which. Thank you in advance.

  39. Good day sir, I am working as 2nd officer and having sea career since 2011, want to quit sea career and join shore base jobs, which job will you prefer should I enter.

  40. Good Day, i have worked on vessels up to 200 tons for 28 years ,as Master doing offshore supplies and crew transfers , done dive contacts and research contracts , towing ,and push and pull of barges.
    Have done maintenance and annual surveys on vessels..
    two years ago i got sick , with vascular disease and bi polar , and was put on meds , because the drugs are a schuduled drugs i cant get my ships medical , which is need by SAMSA , so im not allowed to work as a master or even a Able seaman.
    I,m looking for work ashore but am not having any success. ,

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