Safety and education

The sea is a challenge and vocation

The sea values your wisdom!

In summer, the sea and coastal region are shared by sunbathers, bathers, divers, surfers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, jet and water skiers, parasailers and tubers as well as holidaymakers and anglers on both small and large vessels.

There have been times when going to sea or sailing was a part of life for only the elite, but today everybody can enjoy it in one manner or another. There have been times when access to the sea and the seaside was literally closed, even for those whose dwelling place was near the sea. Today, access to the sea is fortunately free and, since there are many beautiful places in Estonia, there is enough room for everybody.


Just like in traffic, there are also specific rules and safety requirements on water. Maritime affairs are a wide and versatile field and therefore the quantity of acts and rules that regulate it is also large. Foreign-going masters have to know the Law of the Sea, skippers of recreational craft have to know navigation rules, local fishers have to know fishing rules. It is possible to read about all these topics from books and the Internet and undergo courses and training events.

However, just like on dry land, some things come down to elementary social skills, like courtesy and dealing with others. The customs of the region, community and those who participate in a specific activity must also be taken into account. For example, the activities of windsurfers who catch waves on the sea are coordinated by the unwritten etiquette of surfers.

Yet whether it is an experienced seafarer or a person (a child or an adult) who comes into contact with the sea indirectly – everybody needs basic knowledge and skills for acting on the sea both in expected and unexpected situations. Not only professional activities on the sea, but participating in sports and taking a break safely are also only possible provided that everyman’s right also means everyman’s obligations.



Since going to sea always involves possible risks and threats, it is important to know the basic truths of staying on the sea.

No matter whether you are a master or a fisher, cast aside the idea that “this will not happen to me” and, when going to sea, always:

-observe the weather report

-make sure that the ship and navigation equipment are in good technical order

-check whether the fuel quantity that you have with you is sufficient and, if possible, take along a fuel reserve

-make sure that lifesaving equipment is present and is in good order and in compliance with the established requirements

-let the people close to you know that you are going to sea – where and for how long you are planning to go

-make clear the rules applicable on the sea

-evaluate your experience and consider whether you are experienced enough for the voyage

-stay sober

-take along means of communication that are in working order

-take along necessary documents

-wear a life jacket

Source: Police and Border Guard Board


Maritime education has been provided in Estonia since 1864 when the first maritime school was established in Heinaste. Both foreign-going and home-trade mates were trained there. The heyday of maritime schools in Estonia was at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century when maritime schools, in addition to the one in Heinaste, also operated in Kuressaare, Paldiski, Käsmu and Narva.

These days maritime occupations can be studied in the Estonian Maritime Academy of Tallinn University of Technology and in Kuressaare College of Tallinn University of Technology that provide their students with education in the field of administration and management of fishery technologies, refrigeration technology, shipboard power plants, port administration and maritime transport management, navigation, organisation and management of waterways safety, and maritime affairs as well as maritime technology and building of recreational craft.


The maritime classes of the Estonian Maritime Academy have been established at Orissaare Gymnasium, Kuressaare Adult Gymnasium and Mustvee Gymnasium. At Hiiumaa Vocational School it is possible to obtain the vocation of a specialist of small harbours.

Passing compulsory military service also provides young men with knowledge and experience and broadens career selection opportunities. As one of the options, approximately 60 young people per year can fulfil their military service requirement in the navy, the main aim of which is to protect Estonian territorial waters.

The entities engaged in the provision of maritime hobby education for young people and children of school age are the Estonian Maritime Museum and, on the basis of projects, by the Noored Merele non-profit organisation.



At the time when traffic on the sea was human, wind or steam powered, service on a ship in most cases meant physical and often also filthy work. In the machine era only mechanics need to smudge their hands with oil, but it is certainly not easy to work on the sea in modern times either. Cramped conditions, cold wind, storms, seasickness, threat of injuries and homesickness are not unfamiliar for a seafarer. Even by using the newest technology, the transport of large amounts of goods and transport of a large number of passengers on the sea is a dangerous activity.

Very often we can hear people for whom the sea provides work or is an athletic hobby say “the sea calls”. What is it about the sea that draws people away even for long periods from a comfortable home and loved ones? It is obviously because people need challenges. The sea is a challenge. Jobs in the field of maritime affairs stand out against other, more comfortable career selections and provide an opportunity to see the world, enjoy longer breaks and, often, to earn well, too.

Both participating in any sports event related to the sea and undergoing practical training on the sea provide an opportunity to learn a sense of responsibility well in advance and, by developing oneself further, to gradually gain increasingly more responsibility and earn more service stripes. The sea teaches teamwork and cooperation with others, more so because the ship is not only a place of work, but also home.


Harbours have always been considered a magic place. A harbour is the place where people have sent men to sea and waited, with grief and yearning, for their return home. A harbour represents yearning for seafarers as well: yearning for arrival and safety, rest that is waiting in the harbour and for loved ones who are waiting for them in the home port.

However, after staying on dry land for some time, seafarers are filled with restless yearning for the freedom offered by the sea. “A ship is not just a hull and a deck and sails. A ship is freedom,” says Captain Jack Sparrow in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Many sea enthusiasts also talk about the feeling of freedom that being on board or on the waves gives them.



However, the sea also provides the freedom of choice. Someone who chooses to get to know the sea does not necessarily have to spend the rest of their life on the sea. Maritime specialists also have many career opportunities on the mainland.

Occupations related to the sea include those of a fisher, master, mate, sailor, marine engineer, boatswain, engineman, pilot, longshoreman, ship’s cook, underwater archaeologist and maritime rescuer as well as investigator of waves, shipbuilder, marine biologist, ichthyologist, maritime historian, vessel traffic manager, harbour master and customs officer.


The aim of the second wave of the Maritime Culture Year is to enhance the awareness of the sea, develop understanding of maritime safety and bring maritime education closer to young people.