By John Konrad (gCaptain) A new ship can be an intimidating place for a deck officer so here are a few tips to get you started and to remind you of what is important when you show up for watch.
– When underway do not hit anything, anytime, for any reason.
– Ears, Eyes and ECDIS in that order.
– Prudence takes practice.
– Make the coffee twice as strong and twice as often as necessary.
– In heavy traffic, if time slows down you are ahead, if time speeds up, you are falling behind.
– Always smile when the weather is good.
– The VHF is a tool, not a solution.
– Poor penmanship is not an excuse for poor penmanship.
– Your purpose is no less important when you are sick or tired or just plain bored.
– Your margin of error is always six inches… measured between the ears.
– Watchstanding is simple until you make it complicated.
– Never sit down when your eyelids get heavy.
– “By all available means” includes all six of your senses.
– Pay attention to what is most important.
– Never let your draft exceed your depth… even when you are ashore.
– Always be learning.
– When nothing is going right consider going left.
– Learning is defined as increasing your mental capacity to take effective action.
– Judgment is key. Without judgment, data means nothing.
– Yes, sometimes you can smell danger.
– Observe, Orient, Decide, Act… rinse, lather and repeat.
– Don’t forget to admire the scenery.
– Arrive early and request late check out both on watch and at hotels.
– Find time to stand a watch in the Engine room.
– Speed and time are relative to the situation but your ability to stay calm and focused is not.
– Never hit a ship, the shore, a shipmate or the bottle.
-Call the captain more often than necessary. The good ones will appreciate it and the bad ones will be annoyed.
– Observe brief moments of silence so you may hear what your brain is trying to tell you.
– Spend time playing in heavy traffic on small boats.
– Respect your watchmates’ pet peeves. Especially the stupid ones.
– The COLREGS are your bible. Read a chapter every Sunday and a short passage before your evening prayer.
– Go read Part 1 of this article: Advice For A Young Ship’s Officer.