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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

Seaman cover letter example

Not everyone has what it takes to be a seaman. Your cover letter is the best place to highlight your key skills and qualifications. We’ll show you how to write a compelling seaman cover letter to ensure the best job catch.
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Seaman cover letter example
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Whether you are catching crab or mackerel, working on the high seas is a risky business requiring teamwork skills, physical resilience, and technical proficiency. When pursuing a new job opportunity, your seaman cover letter should show that you can ride out the storm when the going gets tough.

Before getting started with this important writing task, you might want to check out some of the occupation-specific cover letter examples and writing guides in Resume.io’s ever-growing library.

Then whenever you’re ready to proceed with your own cover letter, we’re here with advice for job-winning success. There is nothing fishy about this seaman cover letter example and guide. Keep in mind that your future crew mates will be reading your letter, so here is what you might want to think about:

  • How to choose the best cover letter format for your seaman career shanty
  • How to make the most of each cover letter section: header, greeting, introduction, body, and conclusion
  • What approach to take when writing the cover letter
  • What mistakes to avoid with your seaman cover letter

Best format for a seaman cover letter

Life as a seaman is not always romantic – it can be both exhilarating and exhausting. A safety-conscious personality and risk-averse attitude is essential. These personal attributes are difficult to convey in a factual CV, so an able seaman cover letter should explore how you go about your work. You can tell stories about overcoming maritime obstacles, dealing with equipment failures, and processing the disappointments of poor catches.

No doubt you are accustomed to telling such stories when you return back to port. But a one-page cover letter is very different from a rambling chat with your land-lubber friends and family. Which aspects of your seaman career do you cover? What will be important for your future captain and crew mates? Most importantly, how do you structure the cover letter so that your stories are easily remembered? 

The seaman cover letter format will not differ from a normal cover letter. This job search sales pitch is a tried-and-tested formula:

  • The cover letter header
  • The greeting / salutation
  • The cover letter intro
  • The middle paragraphs (body of the letter)
  • The ending paragraph of your cover letter (conclusion and call-to-action)

The content of each of these paragraphs can contain the individual stories that are most likely to get the boat captain putting that life jacket over your head. By all means, talk about your core duties and greatest achievements, but make sure that you are positioning yourself as an expert in the specifics of each future role. You need to get your research hat on first.

Also, make sure that there is a mix of interpersonal soft skills (you need to get things done with your crew mates) and technical skills (you need to be proficient using both equipment and technology). Share any unique qualifications that you might possess and give the captain an idea of your industry experience.

Our comprehensive cover letter writing guide shares insights into font style, size and length, plus other general considerations to make your seaman cover letter as impressive as possible. 

As we walk you through the process here step by step, we'll be referring to the adaptable seaman cover letter example below:

Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Mr. Young,

After nine years working as an able seaman on fishing vessels along North America’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts — interspersed with off-season, on-deck adventures in far-flung locales —I’m seeking a new opportunity to pursue my oceanic passions from a UK home base. This has led me to London Marine Consultants, where it seems my qualifications are exceptionally well-matched to your needs and expectations of a seaman.

Initially learning the ropes as a crew member aboard halibut fishing ships in the Gulf of Alaska, I ultimately became knowledgeable about everything it takes to operate and maintain all of the equipment and machinery required on a fishing vessel fleet.

Shrimp fishing off Newfoundland’s northeast coast and the Scotian shelf, south to Maine, reinforced everything I’d learned on the Pacific side, while toughening me to the challenges of unpredictable storms and water condition changes. Although equipment and techniques varied from one ship to another, the tight organization and teamwork with crewmates was always the same. Whether it was a missing piece of hardware or waterlogged lunch fixings, I acquired a reputation for being a positive and practical solution seeker.

Northern winters sometimes found me enjoying working vacations in Mexico or Costa Rica, with stints on charter sport fishing excursions. On other occasions, I volunteered with marine conservation groups on missions to thwart illegal whaling and shark finning in protected waters. The threat of aggressive resistance, or even arrest for trespassing by shady government officials, was omnipresent.

My familiarity with modern technology is second to none, having worked on boats with the latest installations to improve our operation. It was partly to my credit that new safety equipment was adopted to reduce minor accidents and injuries by 75%.

In ship captain support roles, I have extensive navigation experience and have logged hundreds of hours steering a 70-foot fishing vessel, while possessing all required licences. 

As I learn more about the mission and operations of London Marine Consultants, new thoughts come to mind about my potential to contribute as a reliable, dedicated seaman with the level of expertise that would benefit your company. I hope we’ll be able to meet soon and discuss this possibility in more detail.

Sincerely,

Ben West

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Cover letter header

The header of your seaman cover letter header should reflect the efficiency with which you they go about your work. It is a no-frills contact section, outlining your full name, email, and mobile number. You might decide to list your town and state of residence, but you won’t have to share your full address until the offer stage. You obviously won’t need to list the address of the boat captain at the top of the letter — just the recipient's name and maybe the name of the boat will suffice.

Don’t be tempted to incorporate quirky graphics or color schemes. The employer wants to hire someone who is down-to-earth and sensible.

Aim of the cover letter header: Show your regard for efficiency by prominently displaying your name and contact information so the hiring manager can easily contact you.

Cover letter greeting

Seamen are not overly formal people, but at the start of a job search there needs to be an appropriate amount of respect for a boat captain you haven't met yet. Start by addressing your letter to “Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs Surname,” just to be safe. Don’t be tempted to substitute the  informal “Hi.”

Make sure that you find out the name of the captain or other recruiter. Seamen work incredibly closely with their colleagues, so show that this personal angle matters to you. “To Whom It May Concern” will ensure that your seaman cover letter gets thrown overboard.

Aim of the cover letter greeting: Address the boat captain by name to form an immediate connection that’s both personal and professional.

Cover letter introduction

The introduction should cut to the chase of exactly why you need to be on that boat. What are the specifics of your fishing story that will come to be particularly useful? Have a look at the job description and think carefully about the standout aspects of your experience. 

Every seaman job is different, so add some quantifiable context to your career stories. Your future boss can then relate that to the reality on the boat you hope to board as a seaman. 

Make sure that your cover letter introduction touches on how you achieved things alongside your crew mates. There are few jobs where people are more closely woven together into a tight unit.

Aim of the cover letter introduction: Launch into career highlights that your future boss can relate to as reasons to hire you.

Below is the greeting and introduction from our adaptable seaman cover letter example:

Adaptable cover letter introduction example

Dear Mr. Young,

After nine years working as an able seaman on fishing vessels along North America’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts — interspersed with off-season, on-deck adventures in far-flung locales —I’m seeking a new opportunity to pursue my oceanic passions from a UK home base. This has led me to London Marine Consultants, where it seems my qualifications are exceptionally well-matched to your needs and expectations of a seaman.

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Cover letter middle part (body)

Going to sea is a demanding role, so the middle part, or body, of your cover letter should be packed with evidence that you have what it takes — both from a professional and personal point of view. 

Show your competitive nature — after all, you always want to catch more fish. Tell a story about a dangerous experience and how you saved the day. Let future bosses know that you understand how things work on their boat and explain in detail how exactly you will improve their team. There is no place for generic statements in a seaman cover letter; every job will be very different in its demands. Make sure that you tailor every letter to the specific hiring needs.

It is worth mentioning any unique technical qualifications that you have. Don’t bother with anything that is routine or taken for granted in a seaman —  only the things that will give you an advantage over the other applicants.

Expert tip

While we have little doubt that every seaman is a proficient storyteller, you might be having trouble telling your stories concisely in a cover letter. The STAR method may help. Outline a Situation and Task that you faced, the Actions that you took and the Result that ensued. Be as brief as possible; this is just a conversation starter that you will be able to expand upon at interview.

Aim of the cover letter body: Reinforce your case for being the best hire with compelling evidence of your abilities and personal attributes.

Our seaman cover letter sample illustrates what you might include in the middle part:

Adaptable cover letter body example

Initially learning the ropes as a crew member aboard halibut fishing ships in the Gulf of Alaska, I ultimately became knowledgeable about everything it takes to operate and maintain all of the equipment and machinery required on a fishing vessel fleet.

Shrimp fishing off Newfoundland’s northeast coast and the Scotian shelf, south to Maine, reinforced everything I’d learned on the Pacific side, while toughening me to the challenges of unpredictable storms and water condition changes. Although equipment and techniques varied from one ship to another, the tight organization and teamwork with crewmates was always the same. Whether it was a missing piece of hardware or waterlogged lunch fixings, I acquired a reputation for being a positive and practical solution seeker.

Northern winters sometimes found me enjoying working vacations in Mexico or Costa Rica, with stints on charter sport fishing excursions. On other occasions, I volunteered with marine conservation groups on missions to thwart illegal whaling and shark finning in protected waters. The threat of aggressive resistance, or even arrest for trespassing by shady government officials, was omnipresent.

My familiarity with modern technology is second to none, having worked on boats with the latest installations to improve our operation. It was partly to my credit that new safety equipment was adopted to reduce minor accidents and injuries by 75%.

In ship captain support roles, I have extensive navigation experience and have logged hundreds of hours steering a 70-foot fishing vessel, while possessing all required licences.

Copied!

How to close a seaman cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)

It’s time to share one last insight into your character — after all, you will be spending many long hours at sea with the crew. Your personality is arguabtime to share one last insight into your character – after all you will be spending many long hours at sea with the crew. Your personality is arguably as important as your experience. Be honest — don’t pretend to be someone that you are not.

Finish the seaman cover letter on an optimistic note and say that you are looking forward to the opportunity of meeting and finding out more. This call to action is customary, and it may prompt the captain to email an interview invite there and then. Let’s hope so!

Aim of the cover letter conclusion: End on a confident note with a call to action that puts some onus on the employer to follow up.

Here is a sample of a seaman cover letter conclusion:

Adaptable cover letter conclusion and sign-off example

As I learn more about the mission and operations of London Marine Consultants, new thoughts come to mind about my potential to contribute as a reliable, dedicated seaman with the level of expertise that would benefit your company. I hope we’ll be able to meet soon and discuss this possibility in more detail.

Sincerely,

Ben West

Copied!

Basic mistakes in a cover letter (and how to avoid them)

When you are a seaman, mistakes can result in a lost catch or a lost life. You need to be fully alert at all times, which is incredibly hard when you are pulling an 18-hour shift on deck. Watch out for the kind of mistakes listed below on your seaman cover letter. They may hint at a broader careless attitude. Perception is critical at the beginning of a job search.

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes: Seamen hardly need to write at all in their role, but the perception of your attention to detail and accuracy will take a hit if your seaman cover letter is filled with grammatical and spelling errors. Use an online checker such as Grammarly and ask a friend to proofread.
  • Talking about responsibilities: Any seaman can parrot the responsibilities of the role in a cover letter. You should go beyond what is expected and talk about how you went above and beyond to make your difference.
  • Too conversational: A boat is obviously a chatty and friendly working environment, but don’t fall into the trap of being too conversational in your cover letter. It might be interpreted as a lack of professionalism – and that would be fatal to your chances.
  • Uninviting or difficult to read due to problematic layout, design and formatting. To avoid having to worry about these visual details and just focus on writing the content, consider using one of Resume's professionally designed cover letter templates.

Key takeaways

  1. Write a cover letter specific to the nature of the specific seaman role
  2. Share stories about adversity, unusual situations and solving problems as a team.
  3. Finish on a personal note and say that you are looking forward to finding out more.
  4. Look at our seaman cover letter sample for more inspiration.

For more ideas, take a look at these other cover letter examples and writing guides:

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