Hawaii Teacher on Board

By Naidah Gamurot

Position: Mess Attendant

Person Interviewed: Darcy Humbree

Location: Galley of R/V Thomas G. Thompson

Date: October 24, 1998

Darcey Humbree (L. Dolby)

Describe some of the daily responsibilities and daily activities of the mess attendant?

The mess attendant washes dishes, takes care of the mess hall cleaning, and puts out all snack foods, milk, etc.

What are some of the skills, physical abilities, and personal characteristics someone should have if considering becoming a mess attendant?

The mess attendant has to be in good physical condition. The job requires a lot of carrying. "People" skills are important because people see you several times a day. You should be able to develop a sense of people's moods. Also, a person must enjoy being at sea for months at a time.

What kinds of high school courses would you recommend for someone considering this type of work?

Food nutrition or food service classes would be helpful.

What additional training is require or available after high school?

None. The job is pretty basic and unskilled. All the training is done on the job. There are no Coast Guard requirements for this position.

What is the job market like in this position or field?

Not very good. Only one is hired on a ship.

What is the entry-level job for this position?

This is the entry-level job.

What is the next higher level?

Second cook-baker

What are your working hours like?

6 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday, whether in port or at sea. There's a 1 hour break in the morning and 2 hour break in the afternoon. Everyday is a 10-hour day. She receives 2 hours of overtime daily.

In what kind of environment do you work?

Mostly in the galley.

What is the average starting salary for your job?

On the Thompson, starting base pay is $1,661. In addition to base pay, everyone on board also receives a 15% Sea Premium Pay while the ship is away from home port and 8 hours overtime at time-and-a-half for each Saturday, Sunday, and holiday while the ship is away from home.

What are some positive features of your job?

Not being able to spend money. No traffic.

What are some negative features of your job?

You have to be able to do the same things everyday. No shopping.

Talking with Darcy…

Darcy received her bachelors degree in oceanography and spent 5 years working in the field. She used to come onboard as a scientist at least once a year. She loved the sea, so quit her oceanography job and became a mess attendant on the Thompson. She recently married one of the crewmembers onboard. They plan to continue to work on the ship for awhile longer. But, they won't be able to make a career of their jobs. Families aren't allowed onboard.

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