A Guide To Crewing On A Yacht With No Experience.

I could have flown to the countries in the South Pacific sea, but then have you seen the costs?! The flights, accommodation and general prices on the islands make you do a double, triple take. These countries are eye-wateringly expensive for the budget traveller, they are more for the vacationer with their only two weeks off a year. My solution to get to islands that have been deemed the most beautiful in the world by world-renowned French artists? Crewing on a yacht! If time is no constraint, money is tight and you are keen for adventure or something different, this could be perfect for you. I have zero experience sailing bar a few days on a boat with my family in Greece as a teenager. Yet I managed to get a place on a 60ft sailing yacht making its way through the countries in the South Pacific and onto New Zealand. Heres my guide on how to find a position crewing on a yacht.

How Does Crewing On A Yacht Work?

It’s simple really, the people who own yachts, namely the large yachts (25ft-75ft) that need crew very rarely actually sail the big sea passages. They prefer to sit in the marina on the weekend or go island hopping in the day with friends and family. Very rarely do owners want to take on the task of sailing for days on end. Often a yacht owner would like his yacht somewhere else or to be delivered to him/her if the yacht is heading to a first-time buyer. Heading from Monaco to the Caribbean for example. They don’t want to do the sea passage, but they want to be able to spend the week on their yacht when they get to the Caribbean.This is where you would come in, they will need a crew to help with the task of getting the yacht from A to B. More often than not they are happy to pay the expense of this journey, if you’re really lucky they even pay the flight back home! Often a small donation is required to food and fuel used on the journey, but we are talking a tiny fraction of the cost of normal travelling expenses.

An alternative that you see is someone wanting to sail there yacht but not having enough willing crew to manage their boat with ease. The skippers are only human and a big journey like sailing an entire ocean, naturally, is more pleasant with more people. This is how I came about finding my place on a yacht, for example on board my boat, there are seven people. With more people, the ease of night watches (going through the night, people must always be awake in case of an emergency) and day to day tasks to ensure the boat runs smoothly. In these cases more often than not donations towards the maintenance of the boat (food, fuel, mooring fees) are requested, this figure really should be no more than $25 a day, I am paying $12.50.

Do You Need Experience Before Crewing On A Yacht?

In short, no. The biggest thing a novice can bring on board is a positive, happy-to-do anything attitude and a willingness to learn all things yachtie. The bigger boats even take on skill sets such as dive instructors, adventure activity instructors, chefs, electricians, mechanics, plumbers and carpenters. These in some way all fitted within the requirements of what the skipper was wanting on board their boat. My advice is to always mention skills you have that, even though they sound obscure, they could be useful to boat life. It is pretty incredible, how many people do you know have managed to cross an ocean and spend $300US a month travelling the world? Not many.

If you wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping into something new with no prior experience, there are lots of sailing and yachting clubs that offer ‘intro to sailing’ around the world. The RYA has a scheme called getting afloat which makes it even easier. to find these intro to sailing offers. Easier yet head to google and learn the basics of sailing. There are literally millions of youtube videos to help give you a flavour of how to sail. But really the easiest way to learn is on a boat while it’s all happening.

What Will I Do While Crewing On A Yacht?

As mentioned previously, as a novice you learn sailing on the job, but mostly you muck in, cooking, cleaning and being part of watching the deck. While there will be opportunities to learn, the more competent sailors will be the ones required to navigate, watch the deck alone and overall sailing of the boat. Don’t worry thinking you know zero heading to a new yacht, the crew should be selected with varying skill levels to keep the boat sailing efficiently.

Advice For A First Timer Crewing On A Yacht?

The key is to ask the right questions. Have a check here for questions and elements you should be asking about before getting on the boat below. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the skipper, if anything they should be happy to give answers to someone who has done there homework and is keen to know more.

  • Whats your previous sailing experience? If you are coming as a complete novice you really want a very experienced skipper.
  • Whats your competence in navigation/and or boat management? This should be a similar answer to what was said previously.
  • Are you expecting payment?
  • What is the plan for the passage? Relatively speaking the better and more organised the plan seems the more organised the skipper will be.
  • Will wet gear be provided? This should be provided unless they specify this very early on.
  • Is there an overboard bag/grab bag onboard? Can I add wallets, medications, spare glasses in it? This is the bag you take if the boat sinks, there should be one already packed with supplies for an emergency, take a goggle of what should be in this, particularly for an ocean passage.
  • Is there storage space for wet gear and clothes?
  • What is in the first aid kit? Again take a goggle of the amount that is relevant to the duration of sail you are looking for, personally for me, the bigger the kit and more knowledgeable the skipper the better. (Within two days of sailing, I had been stung by jellyfish and dislocated a toe. The competence of my skipper in this situation was incredibly important.)
  • What is your general guide for watch keeping, including how many people at a time and life jackets? There should really be two people at any one time and life jackets at night, always.
  • How are the work and tasks onboard the boat divided up? It should be fairly dished out, no one person should have all the terrible jobs while the skipper shouldn’t simply be sitting at the steering, a crew is more of a team, not a business structure, however, the skipper gets the final say.
  • What are there restrictions on what we can do on board the boat as a crew? This is how comfortable you feel with it, e.g. drugs, alcohol consumption, men urinating overboard.

Advice For A Solo Female Traveller Crewing On A Yacht?

The sailing world for centuries has been a man’s world and to a certain degree is still is. I have only to date seen one solo female skipper, if there is a woman permanently aboard the boat generally it means there is a couple living aboard. As a solo female traveller you need to consider gender safety, how many other crew members are there on board? Are there other females on board? Has the skipper previously had females on board the boat? While there shouldn’t be an issue, there are more and more women flocking to the sailing world, the crewing and sailing world is still mainly male. My final advice after hearing stories on this subject is to be flexible, if you do have the bad luck of finding yourself with an inappropriate skipper or crew member you are not obligated to stay on board the boat, leave. Another boat is always around the Marina corner.

Where Do I Sign Up?

The best bet for getting a boat very quickly is to be where the yachts are. Namely Auckland, Cape Town, Darwin (Australia), Fremantle, Gibraltar, Panama, Phuket, St Maarten (Carribean) and San Diego (USA). Each yachting area has high and low seasons on when the yachts tend to leave on typical sailing routes, these routes are based on the winds that the yachts will need in order to have a timely passage. You can easily google this before deciding on where to go. Often turning up to yacht clubs and looking keen, the club can put you in contact with boats they know that need crew.

Alternatively, you can find a boat and skipper with online communities and vice versa. This is how I found mine, I applied to all of the below.

Crew seekers international: The longest running site with arguably the largest range of listing due to its age. Registration is $95 for a year.

Findacrew.net: Free for the crew, you simply add information to a profile which skippers can view and then contact you. You can also contact them which a percent match to what the skipper is looking for but only to show interest in their plans. Reaching out to the skipper with a personal message requires the premium membership which is $43 US dollars for 30 days.

Crewbay.com: From what I can see, findacrew.net baby sister. There are fewer opportunities, being slightly smaller but it is free to join.

oceancrewlink.com: The preferred method to match crew and skipper by World Cruising Club, specialising in ocean sailing crew. It is free to register.

Sailingnetworks.com: Like a facebook only for the niche of sailing, again free to sign up and try to find opportunities.

Originally published on www.thechanceofchoice.com