How to Quit Sea Life and Settle Ashore?

Note : This article, by no means, tries to undermine the fact that merchant navy is a great career option, which is both financially rewarding and professionally satisfying. We as mariners are indebted to this great field for the amazing opportunities and experiences it has given to us. The article only makes an attempt to address some of the common concerns which seafarers have at a certain point in their shipping careers.
There are several reasons seafarers quit a promising and well-rewarding life at sea. Leaving an active sea career is not an easy decision, yet hundreds of merchant navy officers have dared to trespass this unforgiving territory of shore jobs and have not only conquered them but also remained undefeated in their new endeavors.


Only those who lack the courage and conviction attribute others success to luck or fate; but those mariners who did not wait to be Masters or Chief engineers and had full faith in them have hung their sea boots early and secured a long lasting shore career for themselves.       

Usually there are two types of seafarers at the sea. There is one group of seafarers who is happy to continue at sea and in fact enjoy sailing, and then there is another group of seafarers who want to leave, but are scared to choose the option of settling ashore due to a lot of uncertainties associated with this decision.

If you belong to the later group, let me assure you that once you decide to step out of this comfort zone (your sea career), hard work, dedication, and a belief in yourself can take you on a path of unprecedented success. Living at sea life and settling ashore might be difficult but it’s not impossible for sure! 

Image credits: ITF Global

Image credits: ITF Global

For those who are planning to have a more settled life at shore, it’s not unusual to have these questions from time to time whenever they decide to quit sea: 

1. Do I have the necessary capital to start a business?

2. What kind of a business or profession should I pursue after quitting sea?

3. Will I ever be able to resume my sea career again if I stay away from sea life for too long?

4. What happens if my sailing license expires?

5. What would I do if I don’t like my new career?

6. Can I survive in the cut-throat world of business/other shore profession?

7. A lot many seafarers have quit sea, lost money, and returned to their sea careers, what if I am one of them?

The basic hurdles must be crossed and answers must be sought to make the decision to quit sea as easy as possible. It is also important to lay to rest the feeling of insecurity of your family members who have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.

I will try to answer some of the common queries seafarer and hope it will help reduce some anxiety and lessen the burden of wasteful thoughts in your head while you plan to settle ashore. 


 1.  Do I have the necessary capital to start a business?

If you are planning to start a new business at an early stage of your sea carrier and there is no family business support then there are several options available today.

a) Start a low cost franchise business and various choices are available on:

   International Franchise websites:

  • Franchise
  • Franchise India
  • Franchise Direct

You can look for franchise providers in your respective country. Attending events such as Franchise Expo can also help to get into the field of your choice. 

b) Secure a loan from banks: Today Banks are falling over each other looking for entrepreneurs with good business ideas to whom they can lend money. If you have a great idea and the right attitude, approach a bank to finance you for your goals.

c) Other low capital options include:

   Becoming a-

   i)  Property dealer

   ii)  Financial consultant

   iii)  Online trader in equity and commodity.

Option (i) and (ii) are relatively safe and option (iii) requires good knowledge and expertise.

 These are several other options available, many in the maritime field itself. Search around and follow your passion. 


 2. What kind of a business or profession I should pursue after quitting sea?

This is entirely a decision you will have to make after giving due consideration to your temperament, your confidence level, communication skills and networking skills.

A little bit of introspection and consultation with your family members will exclude you from the group of people, who are not successful/serious in business, given up too soon, and returned back to sea. Your family is your pillar of support which you would desperately need while quitting the sea.

Also, in case business is not your cup of tea, there are several options available in the maritime field or away from this line of profession altogether.

For e.g. several merchant navy officers have successfully:

a)    Cleared civil services exams and are working on high profile government jobs

b)   Done MBA programs and joined as CEOs & MDs of shipping companies, banks and other private organizations

 c)  Done specialized shipping courses from England and other European Nations and taken up jobs as surveyors, vetting Inspectors, Agents Brokers and many other allied fields in maritime industry.

Institutes like Lloyd Maritime academy UK offers many international programs for serving Merchant navy officers. Moreover, MBA in shipping and transport logistics is being offered by several International universities and for young officers it can be very rewarding.

d)  Hobbies that you have abandoned several years ago can be pursued again as a profession. There’s nothing like having a career which has also been your passion for life. Some of the Merchant navy officers I personally know are successful writers and singers.


 3. Will I ever be able to resume my sea career again if I stay away from sea\ life for too long ?

It depends whether you left sea life for good or took a temporary position ashore to meet short-term goals. In case you left sea for good, give your new profession all that you have got with a single objective of making it successful. This question will keep haunting you if you pursue your alternative profession half-heartedly and continue doubting your abilities.

In case you took a job ashore temporarily and have lost touch with your profession during the extended season, you can always join back at a lower position till you regain your confidence or do a revalidation course ashore from a good institute (not popular institute) and join back confidently in the same position in which you had quit sea.


4. What happens if my license expires?

If you are successful ashore, taken permanent retirement from sea career and have met your objectives ashore then such questions need not worry you. If you are still struggling and losing money in business and like to go back to sea then you need to renew you license after attending a revalidation course and join possibly in a lower position if acceptable to you.


5.  What if I do not like my new career?

Don’t just grab any and every job that comes your way after quitting sea. Frankly it is better to be patient and wait for the right opportunity based on your own self-assessment. For example, you may be an excellent administrator but end up as a bad teacher in a maritime training facility, or you may be an excellent trainer but end up falling flat on your face whenever trying to fit in into the shoes of an executive or administrator ashore. Employers too prefer the right man for the right job and sometimes some of them run a personality profile test to ensure you fit the frame. Nevertheless it is never too late to make amends and take an informed decision.


 6. Can I survive in the cut-throat world of business/other shore profession?

Initially, it would be difficult to adjust to the way shore people work. There is no denying the fact that an average seafarer is honest, disciplined, and sincere. He can easily get irritated with people ashore who either have a wrong way of working or are inefficient or both. So if you are planning to quit sea, prepare yourself mentally and immune yourself from small irritants as above if you must decide to settle down ashore and do business. The sooner you adjust the better for you. In professions other than own business, shed your introvert-cloak and improve your networking skills with less sycophancy.


 7. A lot many seafarers have quit sea, lost money, and returned to their sea careers, what if I am one of them?

This is the biggest demoralizing factor responsible for dissuading potential seafarers from switching over to shore life and hanging their sea boots once and for all. It it very  important to make attempts to stay motivated while quitting your sea life.

The only suggestion that I can provide here is to look around you and get inspired by successful mariners rather than following examples of people who haven’t been quite successful at it. Had these people planned their shore life as professionally as they did for  their sea life, their story would have been different.

Most of these maritime portals, shipping agencies, and companies around the world are being run successfully by people from the maritime fraternity and that should be inspirational enough for those who are planning a successful career ashore.

At the end, it all boils down to what you really want from your life and how far you can go to achieve your dreams