A very helpful article for those who are joining Maritime or Offshore vessels ( officers ,engineers & crew ), specially first time joiners. All tips given here are from my own 11 year sailing experience on numerous marine & offshore ships & platforms. Information given here is very detailed and would prove to be very important while packing your luggage when you are off to Swing onboard. many seafarers work on ship for prolonged periods upto 9 months. it is important that you take with ALL items that you would definitely need once on a ship. While some people may not agree with many tips, it maybe you personal choice to pack it or not.This is my BUCKET LIST, and you can draw tips and vary as per your own requirement. But for “first time ship joiners ” , I recommend they just follow below tips. BON VOYAGE !!!
1. Documents you MUST take with you ?
Following documents are recommended to be taken in a durable Document Folder. You must take proper care of your docs as its very hard to get them re-issued when lost.
- Valid Passport – Make sure its valid for at least the tenure of your contract + 6 months. If it expires on board u may have to pay hefty amount to get it reissued overseas.
- All STCW certificates and your CoC ( Certificate of Competency ).
- Valid National Seaman Book and Flag Seaman Book – Seaman Book is also called CDC (continuous discharge certificate ) in some countries !
- Check that you have correct plane tickets , OK to board letter , and Visa for the countries you will be visiting.
- Important : Check correct name on your Plane Tickets ( must be same as passport ), otherwise you will get delayed or even NOT issued with boarding pass sometimes
- Current Maritime or Offshore ( UKOOA) medicals.
2. Clothes + Footwear + Personal Effects :
- At least 2 pair of Sports Shorts & T Shirts
- 5-6 pairs of natural cotton socks for work boots
- 1-2 pair of warm acrylic socks for cold climate
- 4-5 pairs of cotton vests and underwear.
- Body Lotion, Hair Shampoo,Hair conditioner, body shampoo,toothbrush ,toothpaste,shaving kit,hair trimmer,nail clipper etc
- Multivitamins , specially supplements for Vitamin A,E,C. Deep Fish Oil Capsules.
- Any medicine that you take regularly ( be sure to carry a prescription written by doctor, should be in English )
3. Electronics :
This really depend on your personal preferences and life style. Also it would depend on type of ship you will be joining. I always take minimum of following.
- A reliable Laptop with HD or 4K screen ( good for watching movies ) – I carry a Mac book Pro 15 inch – Don’t forget OS DVD and drivers
- A 3G enabled phone – I carry a iPhone 5S
- A good noise cancellation Headphones – I carry a DENON AH series, (BOSE QC15 is the most affordable and premium stuff )
- An external HDD which can hold your backup data,movies and other stuff
- Important : Pornography is banned in many countries, and you may incur heavy fines if found in possession of pornography content specially in Middle East
4. Helpful Tips :
- Carry lose US dollars at-least 400$USD in your wallet and a International Debit Card. Sometimes its cheaper to take money out of overseas ATM than exchanging USD.
- Its better to use a Soft Bag offshore to pack luggage, as hard case suitcases are not allowed in choppers. Seaman must take a hard case rugged suitcase which will not flip open or break on impacts as you might travel between 3-4 flights and specially when its pulled upto the ship with a rope . Weight will depend on your ticket type which can be 40Kg for a seaman ticket. Try to carry not more than 15-20 Kg
- Always carry your documents folder and costly items like laptop, wallet etc in your handbag. Make sure you stick with your hand baggage all the time. I once met an Officer who lost his document folder while joining his ship , he not only missed his joining, he reached his home country after 6 days, and had to spend a lot of time and money to get all his documents re-issued. Remember DON’T LOSE YOUR DOCUMENTS at any cost.