If one has a big budget
, one can fly to a destination
for an expensive course or "crewed charter
If one has very little budget or none, your options are different.
My suggestions are based on what you outlined in your intro to this thread:
1. Southern California
2. Low Budget
3. Do not currently own a boat
4. You have already taken some classes
5. Desire to learn practical things and gain experience
6. Turned off by the social aspects of a sailing club
So my suggestions for you. You may have already heard these before many times, because they generally work and are relatively easy.
1. Present yourself as "Available Crew"
(e.g. post notices on crew boards both online and at marinas) and clearly state your desire to learn, your previous experience on boats (little or much) and your past study of sailing (formal classes). Since you are married, I would also mention that. Some skippers may be looking at female crew as potential partners, so best to get that settled up front.
My Tip: Avoid telling boat owners you are a "kook" before you meet them (as in your title of your thread). Let them learn that themselves. Of course you might find you have something in common with them too.
Or just say you are Dutch.
On the other hand, many boat owners looking for crew on overnight cruises or deliveries do appreciate having a "cook" onboard.
"Crew" means many things. Some could be even unskilled and may be called "rail meat" (movable weight on racing
boats). Others develop knowledge and skills to take on more tasks and become more valuable to skippers. Which you become is up to you.
My Tip: Document each time you go sailing.
Get the skipper
to write a short note about what you did or learned in a small "logbook" you keep.
Once you get some "hands on" experience, and IF you are friendly and helpful and dependable as crew, you will probably have no trouble getting more time on more boats.
2. If you cannot find a skipper willing to take you on as crew, offer to pay (a little may be all that is needed) for lessons by experienced sailors who have a boat, but don't have regular crew.
These may not get you a certification
, but you might learn a lot that would cost very little. This payment could be minimal.
3. Continue to study sailing, either in books, videos, or online.
There are many resources available now, most are free over the internet
. You can learn a lot, prior to stepping on a boat. In fact, learning before you get on as crew will make you much more valuable as a crew member
, rather than a clueless crew.
4. If you have some money, you could consider renting or buying a small boat.
Some boats (dinghy type boats) can be bought used for about $500 - $1,000. This could be a lot of fun. But, if you don't have the money to buy a boat or to pay for lessons, you can still get on boats (and learn) by serving as crew. Many people do this.
4. Don't give up.