Intro: Welcome to Crew: Life at sea podcast. Here we will share the skills you need to make your experience and adventure out at sea a success, hear inspiring stories from the experienced crew, from all diversities, gain knowledge and know your rights. Be Part of the crew life at sea, and let’s welcome your host, Raymond Crystal.

Raymond: Hello and welcome to Crew: life at sea, the only place where you can find useful information, advice, insights, and resources to help inspire you to take that next step in working on a cruise ship. Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen. And today we have with us a job description which you may not understand or know what it really is, but that is why we have him with us here today. It’s called an able man, you know, he’s able to walk, he’s able to talk. He’s just able to do many things. Able man, please tell us what is an able man, and your name and how many years you’ve been at sea. Just give us a little bit of a rundown.

Roland: Yeah, hey guys out there. I am Roland, hailed from the Philippines. An able seaman, not enable. An able seaman means we’re doing like, working alone on the vessel, which some of the lower ranks should not do it. Because they’re not enabled yet. The able seaman on the cruise ship is categorized into two, the quartermaster and the fire patrol. The fire patrol, these people that are doing the rounds on the ship, make sure that everybody’s safe. No troubles, no fire, no nothing. And the quartermaster is doing like driving the ship in the confined waters, he’s driving the ship during arrival and departure with the order of the captain or the pilot.

Raymond: Which one are you classified as?

Roland: I was a quartermaster here.

Raymond: Ok, so can you tell me how many years have you been at sea?

Roland:  Yeah, I’ve been at sea for like 13 years. Twelve years in the cruise ship and one year local in the Philippines.

Raymond: Oh, that’s excellent. So can you tell me how did you get to this point in your life?

Roland: Well, I think it’s really my passion to be a seaman, because of my house, I’m living near the coast. I saw ships passing, coming in, coming out. So I think I realized maybe I’ll be on one of them one day. Then one day I realized I wasn’t worried, and then came to see the world for free. That’s it.

Raymond: So what made you decide that this was your career that you wanted in your life?

Roland: I think basically because I heard that seamen get better money compared to other jobs. So I think this is one of the things that motivates me. Because we were raised by a poor family.

Raymond: Can you tell me the process, if somebody wanted to work on board as an Ableman, how would they go about doing that?

Roland: Well, it depends on your country, how it will be. But basically, we have this STCW, as long as you have this STCW you are compliant with these certificates.

Raymond: The STCW 95 is like four courses in one, and now you have to have this to go on the sea, it’s compulsory. it’s firefighting, medical aid, survival. There’s four or five of them, proficiency in security. before you didn’t need them, now it is compulsory.

Roland: It is required by law.

Raymond: So to apply, what certificates would you need in order to get this job? The Able Seaman. What certificates? Do you need any type of certificates?

Roland: Yes we have the COC, certificate of competency. The government will require you if you’re a seaman to do this one and to do that one. And then, in the end, you can have this certificate of competency.

Raymond: How many years?

Roland: No, it’s not years, it’s like training courses.

Raymond: And the course that you did, how many years was that course that you did that you told me about?

Roland: This course was like. But before you take this one, of course, you need to pass this three-year degree course.

Raymond: What’s the name of that?

Raymond: Knowing what you know now if you could change one thing in your life, what would it be and why?

Roland: That’s a very nice question. If I could turn the page, I don’t think I would take this kind of job. Basically, because you’re away from your family. I just realized when I get married, and got older, how hard it is to be away from your family.  And so, as I said, need to embrace the pain, we are here. We cannot turn back the time. At this turning point, I’d choose to be a lawyer Juts kidding.

Raymond: You see Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we’re here for, to embrace and to let you know the real deal. All right. Imagine the toughest day you’ve ever experienced at sea. Tell me about it, and how you got through it.

Roland: So the toughest day, I was working at the top of the mast, it’s where the lights are. That’s the highest point of the ship. And Man, I have this phobia of heights. And you’ve got this job. How can I refuse? As far as safety is concerned I have everything. But you cannot fight your mind. You know your fear of heights, I’m trying to come over it, but until now I’m still fighting for it, and sometimes the boss is giving me this kind of job, and I’m like oh not again. Well it’s, I can say it’s mind over matter.

Raymond: So that’s what happened.

Roland: That’s the toughest for me.

Raymond: So have you worked on small ships and big Ships?

Roland: Yeah, I’ve worked on big ships that have more than two thousand guests. I worked on a medium size, 600 guests.

Raymond: Does it make any difference for your job?

Roland: Job wise, It’s the same because you do the same kind of work.

Raymond: What I want to know from you is like what are the negatives, which I’ve heard a few already. And what are the positives of your job?

Roland: The positive side, you get better money, the negative side, you’re away from your family. that’s why I was trying to say that you need to be emotionally tough.

Raymond: So what safety duties do you have on board because you’re an ableman?

Roland: OK. During the drill, I’m the end command on the life raft. I’m the one commanding, let’s say we need to prepare something for an emergency, you need to feel it like a real situation.

Raymond: So in a real situation, if we had to abandon ship, you would be the guy who would in an orderly fashion, bring in the people in order to sit in a certain way, where we could fill the raft to its maximum capacity. Is it easy?

Roland:Yeah, the only thing you need to know is, you know what to do to operate during an emergency.

Raymond: So Mr Roland the big question I ask everybody, tell me the most shocking

the thing you’ve ever encountered or seen in your career at sea.

Roland: I heard the ghost. I was just walking like nothing because I don’t know and don’t have any idea yet until these people start to say they saw a ghost there and here.  It’s all in your mind but I cannot take it away.

Raymond: So what happened? Tell me the experience?

Roland: I didn’t experience, but I can feel like, I just hear stories.

Raymond: Ok that’s fine, but what is something that’s happened to you in your whole 8 years? Have you been through? For me, my craziest thing. I’ll never forget when I was five minutes to the new year. We had to go to a master station and there was a fire, anything like the one guy has told me about a crew member jumping off the ship. One person’s told me about an explosion. What’s something that happened to you that’s like wow you will never forget it.

Roland: Yeah. One thing it was tender operation on 

medium-size shipping that I boarded. It was a tender operation where the sea was really rough.  I was almost on the hook where we secure this hook also from the tender. And my thumb gets cut in the middle. And I realized that wasn’t the middle and suddenly the banging and everything because it was a two-metre swell. The boat is up and down 2 meters and the banging and slamming in the sea. Then I realized that my thumb is in the middle of something, I don’t remember exactly. If I couldn’t manage to quickly to pull it out quickly it would be cut through. Of course, it’s metal with tremendous weight and everything. Plus, the banging and slamming. Maybe not even my thumb would be gone, maybe my whole hand.

Raymond: Well you’re lucky you got 10 fingers there bro. So has worked at sea change your life?

Roland: Still no.

Raymond: You’ve been at sea for how many years again?

Roland: 13 years

Raymond: 13 years. Why do you keep coming back?

Roland: It’s all about the money. Maybe after 5 years if I get enough to build something, a little bit of business or maybe.

Raymond: Well I hope you do man because I can see you deserve to be out of the ship and you do because you’re a family man. Just like me, man. And some people I can see they’re not, but I can that you just want to be with family just like me, but it’ll happen soon enough, I promise. So would you recommend working on a cruise line to somebody?

Roland: Well, the guys who wish to be at sea, be prepared, be strong. That’s it.

Raymond: Which is your favourite ports and why?

Roland: My favourite ports. One of my favourite ports in New York. It’s an amazing place. You can buy a lot of souvenirs.

Raymond: Well let me tell you man Roland, thank you so much for being on the show. It was amazing to have you. You’re a long-time veteran and it’s an honour to have somebody like you on my show. With that said we will see you soon and keep your fingers to yourself and see you later. Ciao.

Roland: Ciao.

Outro: Thanks for listening to Crew life at sea podcast. Want any of your questions answered? Send us an email at Thank you for being a part of our adventure at sea.