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More Sailors Needed on the Working Waterfront

Doesn’t everyone captivated by the sea want to find a way to spend more time on the water? Or, if really fortunate, make it a career? We know many sailors among us work on tugs, ships, ferries, or in the ports and shipyards ringing the Bay. Despite the attraction and the presence of good-paying jobs, the New York Times reports on the shortage of workers in the commercial maritime world. If Latitude 38‘s Job Opportunities section is any indication, we’d say the same is true for recreational marine businesses on the West Coast.

Port of Oakland Cranes
It would be interesting to know how many sailors were involved in the delivery of these new cranes for the Port of Oakland in January 2021.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The NY Times reports most of these maritime jobs have traditionally been filled by men, and with male participation in the labor force declining while female participation is climbing, there are many good jobs out there seeking applicants. At sea, the ratio of men to women in the maritime trades is five to one, but with jobs ashore, the ratio is more evenly balanced.

Cal Maritime
The winning Cal Maritime Academy sailing team is based in Vallejo. Cal Maritime launches an annual class of students headed for the maritime trades.
© 2023 Laurie Morrison

Outside of the commercial maritime trades, there are numerous jobs for craftsmen, yard workers and others servicing the recreational marine industry up and down the coast. The endlessly changing world of the working waterfront is looking for people who want outdoor, hands-on work instead of work with a keyboard and mouse. That could be teaching sailing at a local sailing school, welding sheet metal at a local yard, or crossing an ocean on a ship or tug. There are many jobs for sailors who don’t ever want to get too far from the water.


  1. Sylvia Stewart Stompe 1 year ago

    There are also opportunities for sailors with a passion for the environment and education, at non profits such as Call of the Sea and many other maritime organizations which serve youth and university students with on the water educational programs!

  2. milly Biller 1 year ago

    Thanks for this article. There is such a huge shortage of young people willing to learn the Maritime Trades. As someone who worked as a sailmaker and a boatyard worker, you might not get rich and you might have to work in the rain sometimes, but the work is constantly interesting and challenging, and you will never be bored.

    • Captain Grampa 1 year ago

      Understood. I’ve been working for about 47 years. Still looking for more work, don’t want a job.

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