This is a repost blog.
8 Jan 2023: I didn’t have to work overtime? OK, Roger that
I am a mariner. My position on the ship is Mate. Below me are my deck hands who are responsible for the labor work like painting, grinding, maintenance, line handling, cargo ops, etc. Above me is the chief mate (second in command) and the Captain (in charge of everyone and the responsible individual for the entire ship). We are officers and we do the planning for navigation, ship handling, training, payroll, etc. I work for a private company that pays me by a day rate which is a 12 hour work day. I work one month on and one month off.
Like most industries, we are undermanned, can’t hire enough to fill all positions. Now this ship I work is even harder to crew up, mainly because of the captain. He’s got a notorious reputation for being a jerk. So people find all sorts of ways not to come to this boat. And if they do, they only work one tour and never come back. I joined this ship back in May and for the last 7 months it’s been kinda hell working for this Captain. He’s a narcissist, condescends everyone, insults everyone, works us like slaves, never thanks us, just an all around class act. You know these type of bosses. They never let up, they push you to the limit and just makes you hate work and life.
With that said, I’ve been working 15 sometimes 18 hours a day because we’re short handed. I’m doing all sorts of work that’s not in my job description. I had to do cargo ops, handle mooring lines, maintenance, all in addition to my Mate duties. I’m a very hard worker, a team player, and never say no to work.
The thing is we don’t get paid for any more than 12 hours of work a day. So all those extra hours i worked are unpaid. It burns me and I freaking hate it but like I said I’m a team player, I want to make sure it’s safe for my guys, the operations get completed, and clients stay happy so I do what is asked of me. I’m also the cook (we don’t have an official cook on board because this is considered a small crew and small ship), i was cooking lunch every day for my crew and many dinners too. Generally you’re on your own for breakfast and dinner. I was so good at my job that he and the chief mate passed their duties on to me so they can just sit back and relax. Chief mates and captains have a lot of paperwork to do but I was handling that for them too until up to this point.
Well one day, I’m just completely burnt out with these 15-18 hour days. I get into a discussion about how the captain and company is stealing my wages because I’m working more than 12 hours a day. I asked him if I could show up to watch an hour later than my schedule duty (the engine dept does this when they require their folks to work overtime the day before). I work a swing shift which overlaps both the captain and chief mate so it’s not unheard of or uncommon to let guys show up late especially if they worked more than 12 hours the previous day. Well once I asked to sleep in an extra hour, all hell broke loose with him insulting me, calling me names, being racist, “nobody wants to work anymore blah blah blah, just nasty inappropriate behavior that shouldn’t happen but happens all the time in this industry. He then finishes the verbal beat down with a cocky eating grin, “you know Mate, you never HAD to work overtime. You could have just said no” I was steaming at this point but I just replied with, “OK Roger that” I called it a day and went to bed. Cue malicious compliance.
The next day I’m already on watch and he comes on to work and asks me what’s for lunch. “nothing, I’m not cooking today” “did you pull out anything from the freezer at least” “nope” so nobody had any real food for lunch. They all made sandwiches and ate chips instead.
Later that day, “hey I need you to go finish painting the rescue boat. The guys are busy with other projects and I want this done today” “well capt, since it’s not in my job description, I respectfully decline” we get into a little arguing but he concedes. The very next day he pulls the same thing “what’s for lunch” “nothing” “what do we have that we can cook real fast” “I don’t know capt, I didn’t check, cooking isn’t my job remember so I don’t plan on doing it ” he rushes to cook some whole chickens in an hour and they came out raw and really ticked off the crew. Nobody touched his food. This routine lasted a whole week until it was the end of my tour and I got to go home.
I returned to duty a month later and he thought I would forget or let it slide. I indeed did not forget or let it slide. For the the next entire month long tour the capt had to do the cooking because the chief mate and I refused to do it and he complained because he had to wake up early and prep food. I was already doing all that when I was cooking. I just didn’t complain. I enjoy cooking. But I was willing to die on this hill, I wasnt letting it go. I refused to let him win this battle. I did not cook one meal. To be petty, I made myself delicious food, did not share it, I refused any work that wasn’t in my job description. What’s he gonna do? Write me up on disciplinary for not doing someone else’s job that isn’t mine or for not working past 12 hours? Not happening. Understand, at this point I was physically tired, burnt out, and mentally drained from doing everybody’s job and taking crap from him.
I asked for a transfer to another ship but got denied so I’m still stuck on this ship with this Captain but now he knows where I stand. And I haven’t cooked or did extra duties since. And that’s what you get for taking advantage of a good worker and always insulting me.
Edit: I forgot to add that one of the reasons I for not getting a transfer is because nobody is easily willing to come here and work with this guy. One day during that hitch I came up to the bridge and overheard him talking to the assignment manager about keeping me here permanently because “he’s a good Mate, he’s prior military, and he can cook” blah blah blah. I was suppose to be a floater, filling in positions on different boats as needed which is what I like. Well, that worked out well.
Edit2: There’s something you have to understand. We do cargo operations that involve rigging cables to cargo on our deck for offload/onload, it can be very dangerous at times. This evolution requires at least two people and because office management sucks with manning, sometimes we don’t have two people to do it. I care about the safety of my guys/girls. I would never leave them hanging like that and that’s why I’ll go down on deck and help. I’ve been in that situation many times and it sucks. I do it for my guys not for the captain or the company. It doesn’t make it fair or enjoyable but I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if one of my guys got injured or killed because I let them work alone. The other things like cooking, captains paperwork, maintenance, engineering, I continue to refuse those duties.
21 Aug 2023: UPDATE
After escalating my complaints about Captain Suka, and threatening with formal complaints to HR and higher, the coordinator (another lazy incompetent suka), I was finally assigned to a new boat. Yes! Finally, A new assignment! So I get to the new ship, I go to work for this new captain and crew and applied my new learned lesson of “Act your Wage” (thanks redditor Metraxix). I did not cook, I didn’t do any extra duties outside my job description, I worked ONLY my 12 hours and nothing more. I knew a couple guys on this new boat so I got along with them easily. Things are looking good.
But after 1 week of being there my coordinator transfered me to another ship because some Captain Bylat pulled rank and wanted to work an extra 2 weeks. So I get kicked off this one and go to another boat. A worse boat. I spent 2 more weeks there and it was just more bullshit. This Captain Ron was pencil whipping training, drills, safety meetings, etc and I wanted no part of this BS.
It was at this point I had enough with this company. They were suppose to be one of the biggest and baddest outfits in the industry but really it was being managed like shit. My mental health declined. I went home, took my scheduled 1 month off and I decided to not come back to work for this company. I ended up taking an extra month off to focus on my mental health, spend some more time with family. Had some old Veteran friends come visit for a while to catch up and shoot the shit.
I reached out to some friends that work in the same profession and got some leads that landed me a new job immediately with a small outfit. With my newly updated resume and experience I was offered even more money than the last company. I do much less work, with less stress, with a chill crew, closer to my home, no morale beatings, verbal abuse, did I mention I’m getting paid more? Fuck yeah.
I am fortunate that the ship industry right now is in big demand for workers so jobs are plentiful, pay is competitive and I’m getting into the wind farm industry so we have contracts for a while which means there’s gonna be plenty of work to go around.