Mentoring Stories - Captain John Dickinson

24 Feb 2021 Institute News

In the first in our series of Mentoring Stories, Captain John Dickinson shares his experiences with mentoring at the beginning of his career at sea.

When I commenced my career at sea (many years ago) mentoring was not a word that was used in the maritime industry.

On merchant ships it was usually the Chief Officer/First Mate who looked after the training and work of the apprentices/cadets. If the vessel was a cadet ship where there were several more cadets on board than a normal ship things were very different, there was a much more regulated training regime in place with officers (usually a senior second officer) designated to ‘teach’ the cadets.

Unfortunately on many merchant ships, cadets tended to be used as cheap labour, any instruction on navigation etc. had to be gleaned by the apprentice either by a vague correspondence course provided by the company and the goodwill of the officers on board.

I was relatively lucky, I sailed with a chief officer who did take time to be interested in training and passing on his knowledge to the cadets, what he passed on during the four to eight watch did prove invaluable, the knowledge and the little ‘wrinkles’ stayed with me and even when sitting my masters certificate I recalled the mnemonics he drilled into me, especially useful in learning all about the magnetic compass.

Below are some of the ships I served on during my apprenticeship (three and a half years after one year at college).

M.V. Picardy


M.V. Salamanca


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