Able-Bodied Seaman & Deckhand

Coastal Transportation Inc.   Seattle, WA   Full-time     Transportation
Posted on January 9, 2023

A.B.s, deckhands, and wipers all load cargo on and off the boats, act as lookout, and perform maintenance work such as painting and splicing rope. Wipers tend to work more in the engine room when the boat is traveling, but they work cargo as much as anyone else. The A.B. needs a Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC) from the Coast Guard. Deckhands and wipers do not need a MMC.

For the A.B., deckhand, and wiper each work day is at least 12 hours long. During cargo operations (which take up a third of the voyage) the hours can be far longer.

Two-thirds of the trip is underway time, standing watches, doing cleaning, and maintenance. One-third of the 25-day voyage is spent in cargo operations. Cargo operations are rough physical work in an extreme environment. You must be able to lift heavy weights, up to 100 pounds. Main duties of cargo operation are: driving yard-and-stay cargo gear; operating lift trucks; slinging loads; working with lashing chain, chain binders, and dunnage; and sweeping and cleaning cargo holds. This is a fast-paced job, suitable for high-energy individuals. Carefully read the physical requirements of the job below.

These are full time jobs.

Scheduling: Crew members are placed on an annual schedule, showing when they will sail, and when they will have time off.

Most trips are about 25-days long, though some may be longer or shorter. ABs, wipers, and deckhands usually work a set of one, two or three voyages in a row, with 1 to 5 days off in Seattle in between. At the end of the voyage-set the crew member gets one or two voyages off (28 to 56 days, on average).



Criteria- Individuals go out on 25-day voyages in what could be rough waters on a vessel making random and severe motions. They can be sedentary for the first nine days, then perform physical labor.

Prospective employees must be able to lift 100 lb. to shoulder height.

Prospective employees must be able to stand, suitably clothed, exposed to arctic conditions for long periods of time. They must be able to breathe in a freezer hold with an air temperature of -10 deg. F.

Prospective employees must be to stay on their feet for long periods. Due to the rough seas encountered, the individual must be able to move about a cluttered engine room without an unusual chance of stumbling. The individual must be relatively insensitive to vertigo.


  • Able-Bodied Seaman, QMED: $350/per day
  • Deckhand/Wiper: $200/day

Click here to learn more about what it's like being a AB Seaman and Deckhand at Coastal Transportation.

All employees undergo rigorous fire-fighting and respiratory protection training throughout their employment. Persons with respiratory problems, or suffering from claustrophobia while wearing respirators, should keep this in mind when applying.