Last month marked a considerable milestone in my career as a seafarer. After over 10 years at sea, I finally achieved my Master 1 Certificate. This ticket allows me to be the captain of any vessel anywhere in the world.
I wanted to take this article as an opportunity to give a very brief recap on my career at sea, a career that I have loved and one that I look forward to continuing for many years to come.
Straight out of School
In 2008 I finished my schooling on the Gold Coast and at the start of 2009 I headed to Tasmania as an 18 year old. Before working on ships, it is necessary to first carry out basic safety training and familiarization. For this I did a three month pre sea course at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston.
After completing pre sea training, I headed off to sea with my first ship being a 290 meter long container ship called the Glasgow Express. It was a German and Philippine crewed ship operating between Australia and Asia. I was only onboard for a couple of months and by the time I finished, I was convinced that the seaman’s life was not for me.
On top of being caught in a typhoon near Taiwan in which I was seasick for five days straight, I was made to work endless hours with little sleep. Being the only native English speaker onboard also meant that the other crew members would only talk to me in order to give me tasks or discuss work related matters.
Returning from my first swing at sea, I was disheveled at the idea that I was going to have to find a new career to pursue as shipping seemed not to be for me.
But a career at sea was the path for me
Not knowing what exactly what I was to do next, I decided to undertake some short-term mission work. After some looking around, I found out that OM (operation mobilization) were sending teams to Taiwan to help rebuild after the Typhoon. This seemed like an open door as I had, myself, experienced the devastating storm.
I sent in my application to join the teams heading to Taiwan, in reply I was contacted by a lady from Operation Mobilization named Ruth Crow. Ruth convinced me that instead of going to Taiwan to help with rebuilding, I should rather join the GBA (Good Books for All) operated ship, the MV Duolos. So, a week later I headed off to Malaysia and worked for three months onboard the ship.
I sailed on the iconic ship’s last ever operational voyage, before she was decommissioned in 2009. The time I spent onboard the Duolos was fantastic and a blessing to me. I had the realization that going to sea was not all that my first experience had suggested.
After my time on the Duolos, I went home seeking to continue with a career on ships. I secured a contract to carry out the remainder of my cadetship with CSL (Canadian Shipping Line). I spent a year straight at sea working on a number of different self-discharging bulk carries. It was hard dirty work but it was a time that seasoned me well for a future in the industry and I enjoyed it.
My time with CSL
In 2011, CSL put me through a diploma in nautical. Clara and I spent our first year of marriage in Tasmania whilst I studied the course. The company paid for my study and continued to pay my wage. It was a stress free and enjoyable first year of marriage and we made the most of our time together and my year off from sea.
In 2012 I came out of college with my second mate’s ticket, a license that allowed me to work as a watch keeper on any vessel in the world.
I went back to sea with CSL and worked on the MV CSL Brisbane as a second mate. The CSL Brisbane was a 180 meter long self-discharging bulk carrier operating in Australia and Asia.
We had our first child that same year and I came to find that my eight week on and eight week off work schedule was well suited to family life.
In 2014 we again moved back to Tasmania to complete my final year of study for my nautical science degree.
We had our second child Jane during the first week of my course. I delivered Jane on the floor of the hallway in our rental property after failing to head down to the hospital soon enough.
In 2015, I finished my studies at the AMC and received my Chief Mates ticket. I then work for CSL for a couple more years before taking a voluntary redundancy in 2017.
Into missions and onto passenger ships
It was then in 2018 that I first worked with YWAM. In previous articles I detailed a lot of my time and experiences working with YWAM on their medical ship the YWAM PNG. The ship provides free medical aid to the remote areas of PNG.
I spent a lot of time working on the YWAM PNG during 2018 and 2019. It was during my time on this ship that I came across the company that I currently work for.
One day we were anchored off a remote village in the Morobe province when a vessel called the Coral Adventurer came in to share the anchorage. Myself, and a few others, went over to have a look at the ship. It was a brand new expedition cruise ship and it was kitted out with all the bells and whistles.
After completing my commitment with YWAM and returning home from PNG, I contacted Coral Expeditions, the company that operate the Coral Adventurer. They agreed to take me onboard and I have been working on their vessels since early last year.
On the 18th of January this year I sat my final assessment to complete my Masters ticket. This has been a goal of mine for many years and I am very proud of the achievement.
Matthew Fryer is a professional seafarer with a love of the ocean. After a career working on merchant ships Matthew has recently ventured into the mission field, most recently serving with YWAM onboard their medical and training vessel the ‘YWAM PNG’. When Matthew is not working away at sea he resides on the Gold Coast with his wife Clara and their two children Harold 6 and Jane 5.