The Columbus Foundation's aim is to educate the public on the type of ship, the "caravel", that Columbus used to discover a new world in the year 1492. Columbus made 4 voyages totaling 12 years on ships like these. We take great pride in displaying and maintaining the only traveling replicas in existence today.
Deckhand Job Description
Port Arrival and Departure
We travel an average 10 months out of the year to 30 to 40 different locations around the United States. We travel the Gulf Coast, the East Coast, the Great Lakes, and the Midwestern River System.
There is never a dull moment on arrival day. The day really begins the moment you wake up. The main goal before docking is to get the ship ready for arrival and photo-ready for the media. Main tasks include: square and level the yards, make all coils presentable, scrub decks, clean out bunks, prepare dock lines and fenders. Arrival shirts are worn.
Once the ships are docked and secure, with chafing gear all in the right places, the next task is setting up the gangways. They are not light by any means, but it is a team effort. The most important thing is to listen to instructions.
After gangways are set, next tasks are setting up the blue tent and a barrier, depending on the layout. The end of arrival day can vary depending on arrival time, layout, ship projects, etc., but generally an announcement is made that work is done for the day.
Media will board the ships after we dock and usually 1st Mate or Captain will give interviews and answer questions. Only if assigned can a crew member talk to media.
Departure is a reversal of the arrival process.
Typical Day in Port
On any given day crew members are awake at 7am to begin the morning activities. Activities can range from killing endless amounts of spiders that cropped up during the night to a full blown rigging project , which requires all hands.
The standard chores that take place on an average morning are putting up the flags in the correct order, scrubbing the deck, setting up museum items and taking part in any tasks allocated by mates/Captains. Breakfast takes place somewhere in the midst of all the duties.
Once 9am comes around, we are open to the general public for self guided tours/school tours. Your job is to ensure the safety of all visitors onboard, greet visitors, answer questions about the ships and be friendly.
Everyone's tour is different but the goal is to have your group say "That was great!" and for them to have learned something useful about the ships. Some days you will see endless amounts of excited kids lining up for the ships and what looks like a traffic jam of yellow school buses full of children coming to see us. It is tiring, but definitely worthwhile - and more importantly, fun - especially when it is raining.
Normally we close at 6pm. At this time, flags come down, museum items/Ship's Store get stowed away. Once all the minimal tasks are complete, then usually crew are free until 7am the next morning to do it all again, unless told otherwise.
Typical Day Underway
Once we have left the dock we are officially underway. Every trip is different, so watch schedules vary depending on length of trip, ship projects, and any other issues that are upon us that particular day.
In the Midwestern river system, there are hundreds of locks and dams. We have to go through them wherever we go. Along the way, as we navigate through the rivers both day and night, we encounter total darkness, barges, fog, heavy rain and anything else nature has to offer.
Usually trips are 3 to 4 days. The amount of crew available, along with number of experienced crew, will be the main factors in determining the amount of time spent on watch. Usually it will be 3 hours on, 3 hours off.
Standing watch while underway includes general ship duties, plus taking part in steering, or holding a spot light for up to 3 hours in all weather conditions (river system only). The watch leader allocates duties at the start of each watch.
While off watch, one can stay on deck, eat, read, etc. However, it is advised that crew get sleep while off watch, because it will catch up to you.
Cook Job Description
While In Port
The cook is responsible for preparing both breakfast and dinner for a maximum of 15 people. Crew members are responsible for their own lunch. Breakfast is usually served by 8am, and dinner is served by 630pm. Crew members are responsible for clean-up duties.
The cook is also responsible for planning and maintaining stock necessary for meals and cleanup. The cook will do weekly shopping within a set budget.
The cook is also a regular tour guide and information resource while in port, but will have ample time to prepare meals and to ensure the galley is kept ship-shape.
While underway the cook is responsible for all 3 meals and all clean-up duties. Meals are planned around the watch schedule, organized by the ship's captain. Deck duties are optional for the cook, but if short-handed, then one can be asked to stand a watch.
We ask for a minimum one month commitment. If both parties are satisfied after the first month, then one can stay aboard for an extended period of time. The longest stay by any crew member has been 15 years.
All crew are under evaluation during their first month. After the first month, The Columbus Foundation will make a decision based upon your commitment to the Foundation's purpose, adaptation to living aboard ship, and ability to work well with others, reliably and cheerfully doing whatever is asked of you.
All meals are provided. You will have a bunk with a personal storage area. Also provided are outlets for recharging electronics (no relying on batteries), plenty of fresh water, and first aid/ medical supplies. There is a head (bathroom) aboard both ships.
You will have storage space for a medium-sized duffel bag, plus laptop case or backpack.
Essentials to Bring:
Weatherproofs (Top & Bottom)
Socks/pants/t-shirts x 10
Fleece/hoodie x 2
Terms and Conditions
We are an equal opportunity employer. Applicants are considered for all positions based on abilities, skills, and knowledge and without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, marital or veteran status, physical or mental disability. However, job requires bending and lifting up to 70lbs, and long periods of standing. Safely moving around on a boat and on and off docks in all weather conditions and levels of visibility requires good eyesight, balance, and dexterity.
You are expected to present a neat, well-groomed appearance. Facial piercings including brows, nose, lip, chin and tongue are not acceptable. Hats worn on duty must have our company logo. All tattoos must be covered by uniform or clothing. No extreme hairstyles such as - dreadlocks, multi-colored and/or bright hair colors are allowed.
We are a drug-free workplace. Employees will be required to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test under the following conditions: after a work-related injury or incident, random selection, suspicion of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Refusal to submit to a test or a positive test will result in termination of employment.
If you meet the above criteria, and are interesting in joining us, click HERE for Crew Application.