If you are looking for summer work in Alaska, you might try Coastal Transportation's Summer Mariner program. The Summer Mariner program brings in college-aged people for two or three 24-day trips from May to September for the “summer rush”, when we try to ensure our regular crew members get their all-important summer vacations as scheduled.

The program is not for the faint of heart or the lazy. It is hard work physically and mentally. You need to be self-motivated.

As part of the program, you’ll go through training meant to turn you into a reasonable facsimile of a mariner. You’ll spend about three weeks working and training in Seattle and on the Salish Sea before being placed on an Aleutian freighter. It’s hard, rigorous training designed get you ready for a hard, rigorous job. In Seattle, Monday to Friday, you’ll spend 8 hours/day as a beginning dockworker at $14/hour, picking up the fundamentals of cargo operation, as well as 3 to 4 hours/day on seamanship training: knot tying, ship's terminology, etc. (the training part of the day is paid at $11/hour). When possible, we’ll send you on weekend “boomerang trips”: you’ll go out on an outbound freighter on Friday afternoon, transferring at sea to an inbound freighter returning back to the Seattle dock on Sunday or Monday. The 2-day boomerang trips give you experience in cargo lashing and mooring-line operations. Evenings and some weekends are up to you. For the period of training you live on the training boat. You would be responsible for your own food during training, except during the training voyage.

The training usually includes a 9-day voyage on the Salish Sea on our 65’ steel-hulled training boat Curlew, learning watchstanding, steering, maintenance, etc. As usual, hard work is involved. The voyage usually has a small-boat expedition associated with it. The Curlew brings along an old-school lifeboat: oars and sails and some limited supplies. No GPS. We put the trainees in the lifeboat (with an experienced trainer). The lifeboat crew then has to pilot the lifeboat for 3 to 5 days from point X to point Z using old-school navigation skills. No engines. No support from the outside. 19th century stuff. We’re toughening you, and turning you into a thorough seaman, not a one-trick pony.

Pay for a participant varies from $250/day for merchant marine academy students to $185/day for persons without maritime experience. Transportation is paid for. You don't need a MMC or TWIC card. The voyages are about 24 days long.

How to Apply

Thoroughly read the information contained on these pages. Make sure you are familiar with the requirements and expectations of the program.

To apply, send us an application. However, for the Summer Mariner Program, we also require applicants to include a cover letter introducing themselves and explaining why they are interested in this program.

Job Application & Background Investigation [PDF]


Applications may be mailed to:

Coastal Transportation
ATTN: Vessel Operations Assistant
RE: Summer Mariner Program
4025 13th Ave W
Seattle, WA 98119-1350

Applications may be faxed to:

ATTN: Vessel Operations Assistant
RE: Summer Mariner Program
206-283-9181

There are three stages to the selection process of our Summer Mariners:

First Stage: January 31-March 31
Applicants send in their cover letter & application and receive a postcard to let them know everything has arrived. At this point, candidates are assessed for suitability.
Second Stage: March 15-April 10
Remaining candidates are contacted and interviewed to determine suitability.
Final Section: April 10-15
After review, the best candidates are selected and offered positions.

Frankly, most people don't like the work and a lot of people are incapable of doing it, so we have a vetting process to weed out people who would not do well, saving everyone, including yourself, a lot of trouble. Before you're selected, you have to go through psychological screening, criminal background check, reference check, and drug testing. The training program costs real money. We don't want to start training you just to have you quit after a few days.

If you work out well after one Aleutian trip, we’ll offer you another. If you don't work out well, or don't want to sail again, or you fail training, all of which can happen, we give you a plane ticket home. If you work out well one summer you can sail the next, but without the training part.

Taking a break. Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada Rowing in Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada
Navigation Planning in camp. Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada Camp on a bluff in Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada
Piloting the lifeboat. Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada Camping Ashore. BC. Canada
Piloting through the waterways of Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada Lifeboat underway in B.C. Canada on a multi-day piloting training expedition.
Cooking a meal on an open boat. At a beach camp with all the supplies needed for a crew to survive for days at a time.
Lifeboat underway in B.C. Canada, on a piloting training expedition. Landing the lifeboat to establish a beach camp.
9 hour of rowing a day, building up muscle for Aleutian cargo operations. The reward for accurate navigation is a safe harbor.
After a hard day underway under sail & oars, the work of navigation continues in camp, planning the next day's route. The reward for accurate navigation is a safe harbor.
Under sail on a piloting training expedition.


The training usually includes a 9-day voyage on the Salish Sea on our 65’ steel-hulled training boat Curlew, learning watchstanding, steering, maintenance, etc. As usual, hard work is involved. The voyage usually has a small-boat expedition associated with it. The Curlew brings along an old-school lifeboat: oars and sails and some limited supplies. No GPS. We put the trainees in the lifeboat (with an experienced trainer). The lifeboat crew then has to pilot the lifeboat for 3 to 5 days from point X to point Z using old-school navigation skills. No engines. No support from the outside. 19th century stuff. We’re toughening you, and turning you into a thorough seaman, not a one-trick pony.

*A panoramic view was used for some photographs; some distortion may be present.*

Wheelhouse

Living Quarters

Engine Room

Galley

Head

Training Boat (Curlette)

Coming soon
Coming soon