YOUblog Featured Article: Diary of a PMI/Workboat Academy Cadet

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4
March 9, 2010

This YOUblog featured article was submitted by one of gCaptain’s top contributors, Ordinaryseaman, otherwise known as Anthony, who was recently accepted to PMI’s Workboat Mate Program.

Howdy everyone!

For those who don’t know, PMI and their sister school MITAGS offer an excellent program for entry level and experienced mariners to obtain a mate’s license aboard tugs, research vessels, OSV’s, and small cruise ships. The 2 year program alternates classroom training and working aboard vessels in a format that lets you get your mate’s license in much less time – and for much less money – than the typical “hawsepipe” system of working your way up the ladder. More information can be found at

This is the first post in a series detailing my experiences as a cadet at Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle Washington. My hope is to give those considering becoming a cadet some insight into what it’s like to be a cadet. I will try to post as often as my tight schedule of school, studying, and working a night job allows. Feel free to PM or email me with any questions you may have – Anthony

Today was my my first day as a cadet in the “workboat academy” cadet program at Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle, Washington. Just last Friday I was sitting at my computer back home in Colorado. I got a message from forum member “danzante“- whose alter ego is Jill Russell, PMI’s operations manager. She asked If I wanted to be in the program. I responded-absolutely!  Then she asked if I could be in Seattle, ready to go first thing Monday morning!  PMI – and Jill and Marjah in particular – bent over backwards to help me get in on short notice – thanks!

I’ve worked on ships since 2006- starting as a dishwasher and moving up to deckhand. All the while I’d been looking for a way to get the training I need to become a mate, then captain, without going to a 4 year academy.

In life opportunities are often available for only a minute. I didn’t have have money for tuition, a ticket to Seattle, or a place to stay. What I did have was a STRONG desire to succeed- whatever the price.

I had enough money for my ticket, and a few night at the hostel- which I bought immediately. After making a few calls and selling a few of my things- I had my first quarter’s tuition and living expenses. (Raised an additional $1500 today as well) I found a free bunk near PMI by trading work for lodging at a hostel- as did another of our cadets. I packed my bags and set off for Seattle..

My first morning I awoke at 6 am and walked past Pike’s Place Market, past the bristling ferry depot, and South along Seattle’s waterfront to PMI’s facility adjacent the US Coast Guard.

After meeting with Jill and Marjah, two of PMI’s high trained experienced staff) I met the rest of the PMI Workboat Academy-class of March 2010. There are 6 others- 5 male and 1 female. Most have have some maritime experience, but not all. Ages range from early 20’s to 40’s. The only common denominator is a passion for a career in the maritime industry.

We all seemed a little nervous as we waited for class to begin. The rest of the class had just completed their basic safety training (BST) and spoke highly of the instruction in first aid, cpr, firefighting, water survival, etc. I arrived after the program started so will have to take the class at a later date. We talked until class began.

First up- introductions- the staff and students took turns introducing themselves. I was impressed that the faculty outnumbered students, that all of the staff seemed happy to be there, and by the collective experience of everyone there. We could tell we were in good hands.

Next we toured the facility. Highlights included:

*Spacious classrooms
*A fully stocked break room
*Several amazing simulators. We were each given an opportunity to steer a dual z drive tug outside Vancouver B.C. Very impressive- it felt like we were actually rocking in the waves!
* In house IT and simulation departments. We were especially impressed by the way the talented simulation developer was creating a life-like simulation of the Houston Ship Canal. When he is done will be able to experience lifelike scenery, currents, and weather for Houston- all from PMI’s Seattle simulator..
* A medical lab- complete with skeleton
* and more..

Next we got first hand advice from the graduating class- what to bring for the sea phases of our program, how to be a good ship mate, what not to do on the boat, etc. The most important advice is pertinent anywhere- work hard, do good job, do more than the minimum, and do it with a smile.

Lastly- we went over the training and assessment manuals for the program. PMI’s strength is that it combines classroom, simulator, and vessel experience into a program that squeezes years of training into a 24 month schedule. A large part of that is because , unlike traditional training, you also perform training ands assessments while aboard your boat or ship.

That’s all for today- tomorrow is ratings Forming Part of a Navigational watch (RFPNW)

Until Next Time-Anthony

Good luck Anthony!

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