12 Things a Smart Mariner Would Do Before Joining a Ship

If you are one of those extremely carefree vagabond mariners who live out of a suitcase, then you would not want to read this article. However, if you one of those smart mariners who plan and execute their and their loved ones lives in order to have a safe and secure voyage while at sea, then read on.

Mariners are the ultimate epitome of responsible people. They have the skills and profess to not only take care of themselves while at the sea, but also the lives of their loved ones who are on land.

Let’s be honest about this; it’s extremely tough and stressful to take care of your family while away at the sea; but that is what makes mariners (at least those who care for their family) a smarter breed.

pilot ladder
Photo by mavericklee/depositphotos

Read on to find out how you can take care of minor yet important things before joining a ship and become one of the smarter people at the sea.

Things that would make you a responsible and smart mariner if you do them before joining a ship

1.       Exchange Contact details with your Family

This is the most basic and essential thing a mariner has to do before joining a ship. Give all your contact details including your ship’s email address and phone number (calling on the later would be expensive but it’s always handy for emergencies) to your loved ones.

Make sure you also give the contact details of the right person from your shipping company so that in case your family fails to contact you in case of emergency, they can always pass on the message through your company.

Also, while filling in your own phone book not only take contact details of your parents and siblings but also of your close relatives. This is helpful in situations wherein you are not able to contact your parents due to some odd reasons.

Contact details you can exchange

  • Personal email address
  • Ship’s email address (this you will most probably know once you reach the ship)
  • Ship’s phone number (For extreme emergency only)
  • Your phone number (In case you have activated international roaming or have taken number of the ports your ship visits)
  • Crew personnel’s Contact details (Important)
  • Also, give any of your colleagues’ email address in case your account is not able to receive emails because of some technical glitch.

Note : Social networking sites are very unreliable to contact your loved ones especially in emergencies, so please don’t depend on them.

2.       Give Bank Account Details to Your Family

Your family back on land will need the financial backing while you are at the sea. If you are a mariner, then you would have an NRE account. Make sure you give all details of your bank account, so that your loved ones can use the money you transfer to the account. To make it easier for them, issue a debit/ ATM card and leave it back at home for your family to use.

Bank account details you must share

  • Account details
  • Debit/ ATM card
  • Chequebook
  • Online banking details

Note : Make sure that you sign a few blank cheques which can be used in case some problem arise with your debit card.

To make it easier for your family to keep a track of the amount of money in your bank account, register a mobile number with the bank for “sms alert” services and leave that phone with your family. This would make it easier for them to know how much balance is there in your account and in case there is some unauthorized transaction from your account.

Last but not the least make sure you leave your bank account details in hands of only those people whom you can surely trust.

3.       Photocopy Your Documents

This is one thing that many mariners forget to do.

Photocopy every single official document of yours (From travelling tickets to official job contract), file them together, and keep it at a secure place before going to the ship.

A mariner is always required to carry all the originals and thus the photocopies serve as a great back up in case your originals are misplaced or lost ( Though this should not happen by any means.)

Photocopies would also be beneficial to your family in case of any legal procedures or important paperwork pertaining to you. They are also helpful in case of accidents or other such emergencies.

Note: Make more than 2 sets of photocopies of your original documents. Keep one set with you while travelling,  and keep them in a different bag.

4.       Keep a Small Pocket Diary

This might sound a bit “Old School”, but keeping a pocket diary with all the important details is one of the most recommended practices suggested by the experts. Make sure you note down all the important contact details of your loved ones and company personnel to make sure you are not stuck at times when your mobile phone is not working or you don’t have a charging point to recharge your phone.

5.       Carry an International Credit/ Debit Card

A credit card that can be used in any foreign land is a must have thing for every seafarer. International credit/debit cards not only give you financial backup but are also great help during emergencies. Money (Salary) on ship is managed by the ship’s captain and every ship has limited amount of cash.

The Captain gives only a part of the crew’s salary in the form of cash and the rest of the amount is deposited directly to the bank account. It is because of this constraint the need for international credit/debit card is utmost felt.

6.       Keep a Pair of Clothes and Boiler Suit with You While Boarding the Plane

Aircrafts manage a lot of luggage every day. Cases of luggage lost or misplaced is common in airlines. To avoid a situation wherein you are left paralysed because of unavailability of your belongings, carry a pair of clothes and a boiler suit in a separate bag which you will take along in the plane. This would be helpful to carry on with your work as soon as you reach the ship, until your luggage comes.

Note : Makes sure all your original documents and important papers are with you in your handbag which you would carry along.

7.       Verify Your Ship Job Contract

Check all the documents provided by your company for joining the ship to avoid any discrepancy abroad.

As much important it is to read your contract thoroughly before you sign it, equally important it is to check all the travelling documents before commencing your journey.

8.       Carry Some Cash

Not all shipping companies give advance money to the crew for travelling and thus it is necessary to carry some cash (approximately $200) for emergency use. Some countries charge for transit (Generally it is free for 72 hours; however they charge after that) and thus carrying cash would be handy in case you miss a flight.

Cash is also necessary to buy some food, coffee, or make phone calls if required. 200 USD is a minimum amount one should always carry; however it is noted that travelling expenses are always greater than expected and thus one should plan the travel finance properly.

9.       Pre-Familiarize Yourself with Local Conditions and Laws

Different countries have different laws and it is imperative to follow them. For e.g. Pirated movie DVDs are not allowed at Singapore airport or adult movies or pictures are not allowed in Gulf countries. These are just a few of the several lesser known laws of countries around the world.

Thus make sure you enquire about such laws of the country you are visiting to avoid any kind of trouble on foreign land.

10.   Get yourself a health insurance and Necessary Vaccination

Personal health insurance is a must while travelling in international waters. In case of a mishap, the shipping company might not cover all the costs if the fault was yours. To make sure no obstacle come in the way of your medical procedures, you must have an up-to-date health insurance.

Also in case you are under some medication, get the necessary vaccination before boarding the ship. If you have to carry medicines, get the necessary prescriptions along with the medicine as several countries do not allow you to carry them without perceptions.

If you have spectacles, make sure you carry an extra pair of the same with you while travelling. Keep both the pair in different bags to be on the safer side if you lose one.

Also, make sure you have proper insurance of your family members and belongings.

11.   Keep Valuables at Home

Keep all the things that you would hate to lose at home. There are high chances of losing valuable things while travelling or on the ship. Things you should leave at home:

  • Expensive gifts given by loved ones
  • Any form of jewellery
  • Expensive accessories
  • Social Security card, library card, club membership cards etc.
  • All the extra credit and debit cards

12.   Travel Light

Last but not the least – travel as light as possible. You are not going for holidays not for any kind of pleasure trip. You are going purely for work and carry your luggage accordingly. No need to carry extra baggage comprising of things which would not be useful at all.

So do you perform the above mentioned tasks before leaving for your new ship? Or do you do things differently in your own way, which makes you one of the smarter breed of mariners?

Let us know what is it that you do not forget to do before getting on the plane for your new ship.

You may also like to read:

Interview: Master Mariners Speak On Training, Corruption And Jobs In the Industry Today

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  1. It would be much helpful if we carry a prescription for any medicines that we carry with us … it might avoid difficulties in immigration checks

  2. Very interested,I am fresh graduate in marine engineering,I want to go onboard ship with your help,Thank you

  3. good article. almost everbody beginers are following. but after getting old few things will be missing.


  5. I would like to add. Please do carry multy port adapter (us/Europe/Japan/Australia) for your laptop and mobile phones. Because electronic socket might be different which we have at our homes.

  6. nowaday , we should bring follow international sim card like sim4crew . it’s really helpful .

  7. Advice to carry Jio SIM card with international roaming activated with some additional deposit done. Jio Sim is amongst the best we as mariners can get.

  8. The most important thing that we should do prejoin ship is to be ready and fully prepared the subject matter of our profession. I saw many engineers joining ship in a very confused condition. Read and revised the work you will do there and be ready for any problems rised there.

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