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Old 08-09-2006, 16:37   #1
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Crew Wanted - Etiquette & Proper Customs

This will hopefully be a continuation of the discussion started under VA to BVI.

Being Paid - I don't have that expectation since I'm not a "professional". Maybe one day. I also recognize that many of us are trying to stretch $$$$ in order to live our dream......so I have no problem helping in hopes one day that Karma will return on my voyages.

If there are unique circumstances, very short notice or unusual delays, a Captain should be willing to pay for transportation, hotel, shore meals & extra costs..............which would still be cheaper than hiring a full professional crew or Dockwise to ship their boat.

Fair Exchange - I do expect to be fed real (not fancy 5 star) meals & have healthy snacks/drinks available. In exchange, I will do more than my share of work, be a team player, have fun when possible & handle any watches.
A hard day's work for a fair trade. Not to mention that when you sail especially long distances there is also risk involved to limb/life.....which I believe should also be considered.


I also receive experience / lessons learned from the water time & hopefully the Captain / Crew on different boats in various conditions.

Had one experience where the Captain was ......uh, frugal to be kind. As the food dwindled day after day, the crew wondered about the new Ocean Diet Plan. Long story short, we were able to refill the supplies even if the Captain was taken aback why it was an issue.

Paying the Captain - Now this is what I really OBJECT to...........there are many opportunities (see a bunch under the ARC & other rallies) where the volunteer crew is required to not only pay travel & off boat expenses but pay a daily/voyage fee to the Captain.
So let me get this straight, you want me to work my ass off, stand watches at weird hours, risk my life and live in cramped quarters with strangers while we move your Yacht to the next wonderful port so you can sip cocktails ........................and I have to PAY You for that "priviledge". Hell No ............
There was a trip recently from Hawaii to SF where the crew was being asked to pay $50@ a day..............are they crazy??? Sailing upwind in the Pacific for nearly 3 weeks.
Unless Dennis Connor, Paul Cayard or Capt. Jack Sparrow is at the helm....I ain't paying a dime to move your damn boat anywhere.

So for the future and benefit of both Captains & Crew, what are the proper, fair & kind ways to recruit crew & exchange work for a delivery?
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Old 08-09-2006, 17:08   #2
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Chuteman,

I think it is about expectations. It is the expectations between the parties. Some times it is about needing bodies cheap. Captains are like all the rest of the people in the world. Some are good and some less so. And so it is with crew. Some are just along for the ride and some others for something else. Not always do the two meet with agreement.

Sometimes it really is about the money though in the end I doubt that is the reason you would feel good or bad after you return from the trip. There is real risk on both sides. Assurances are not always possible.

Not all promises are kept. That is the serious problem. How is one to know? You don't. I sure don't. I'm not sure there is an answer that could satisfy everyone. What ever works would my short answer.
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Old 08-09-2006, 17:22   #3
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I was brought up in a racing backround. The skippers that won bought drinks for their crew provided sandwhiches and took "care" of their crew. Racing is hardwork. Often abusive hardwork where you are yelled at by the skipper. I never got my name published in the race results. It was the skipper. And while I was learning I was also providing a service to the skipper and we often won races.

On cruisng boats its different. Some people are desperate for crew. Some skippers want to be compensated for the food the crew eats. Others try to make money to keep their budgets stretched a little further. Some skippers do it professionally (John Neal for example) as a business. In my mind whatever deal you can cut is fine as long as everyone is comfortable with it and everybody lives up to what they agree to.
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Old 08-09-2006, 17:26   #4
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Each deal is dfferent.

Suppose you are alone and you want to get your boat to the Caribbean from New England. You might be able to singlehand... but you insurance may not let you so you NEED crew.

The prudent thing to do is to get competant people who can run the boat when YOU are off watch or... for some reason not able to run the boat. This does not mean experience professionals, but you want people who have been to see, and know what to do and how to handle a yacht. You NEED qualified people. If they are not... they are getting in the way... using up food and water.. and you have to worry about their safety.

The least you should do is pay all expenses from the moment they arrive at the dock to the moment they arrive at their home.

Taking bodies along who are there to learn is not an especially smart move because they may be more of a problem. Don't do it unless you have a pretty good ideas that they are up to it. As an example, I helped deliver a yacht to the Carib last fall... the owner skipper ( a women who leives aboard) wanted help to go offshore... her previous winters were down the ICW (with crew) and to the Bahamas... no real long offshore stuff.
She got 3 sailors to help . One a club racer who is a retired AA pilot and the other a racer and runs a yacht service biz, and myself. The yacht service fellow was assume to be at sea with... fearless, hardworking, smart as hell about sailing and yachts...PERFECT.. cooks too. The AA pilot was sea sick the entire time and rather than leave after Bermuda continued on to be useless and seasick for the last leg. Who woulda known? The 3 of us would have done fine alone. The AA fellow didn't need airfare... but me and the other fella did. I also supplied my EPIRP. It was not work, but it was 2 weeks and didn't need the experience as much as the skipper needed me. Paying for the airfare was a great deal for her... no?

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Old 08-09-2006, 17:26   #5
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See... the thing is... these various issues are pretty well laid out in practice. In practice, a yacht and its owner are responsible for meals, transportation, repatriation, and all expenses a crew incurrs as a result of working aboard the yacht - paid or unpaid.

Of course, we can deviate a little bit and have no pay for the work, and of course we could even deviate farther, and charge people for the "experience" while providing no food or anything. What this amounts to is now passsengers for hire, rather than employment of crew (if the crew pays for the experience). The skipper had better have a six pac or more if that's the case, and a vessel documented for charter service. This IS a charter at that point.

Also, the rules can be bent and broken for yacht owners who can't afford to pay for their crew's expenses or pay them at all. Think of an old 28 footer owned by someone without a lot of money. We'd all agree that it would be ok for this person to not pay crew, but he should pay their expenses, since he's getting such a great deal compared to hiring people to move his boat. However, this is all subjective.

As the yacht becomes nicer, and the owner becomes more wealthy, there is a line where it's actually insulting for them not to pay for the crew's expenses, if not pay the crew to move the vessel. This is very subjective, but at some cutoff point (I'd say maybe a $75,000 yacht?) it is simply a greedy owner (from the point of view of crew) that will not pay for any and all expenses, or even compensation for working aboard the vessel.

Very subjective stuff.... I agree.

My point in the other thread was that this guy has a yacht worth a quarter of a million dollars. He is moving it to the BVI, not across the bay. Any crew who would sign up for this mission without him even fulfilling his minimum obligation (of repatriation) would be very inexperienced, not knowing their rights as crew.

Oh well... guess all the protocols I learned crewing for so many years don't apply to his yacht.

But I think this is a good thread. It's more about what's fair and decent in the same way low wages and no health care is bad for our country. Greed will be the downfall of us yet.
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Old 08-09-2006, 18:44   #6
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Good Stuff - don't stop

Gang:
All good points................and ideas for Captain & Crew discussions before the voyage ever gets underway.
P - I agree Expectations is a good starting point with communications to fill in the details. I may expect a dinner to mean spaghetti & meatballs vs the Captain thinking hot dogs would be fine everyday.

Ocean voyages leave few options if expectations don't match. You could easily become a hostage vs a crewmember. Unlike a coastal trip, where departing at the next port is a better option than a full mutiny.

C - I hear you on Racing crews................unbelieveable work & risk ...been there / done that
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Old 09-09-2006, 02:00   #7
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I have recently made two domestic (not international) deliveries of my $8K "yacht" with volunteer crews, where travel to and from the boat at both ends of the trip was ultimately the crew's responsibility and where they willingly made in-kind contributions to provisioning the boat. For the most part, these crew were family and friends, part of my "network."

On the longer of the trips, though, I wanted to fill the crew out with two more and so I searched through an online crew-finder database and advertised the opportunity on a couple of forums. I was rather overwhelmed by the response. It seems that there are a lot of people, some with good experience, who are willing to travel, etc..., in order to have an opportunity to make an offshore passage.

Given the response I got, I was able to be selective in who I chose. My criteria had more to do with the crew's level of interest and enthusiasm for the trip, and their potential to complement the crew I already had, than with their level of experience (although they had to have some kind of sailing in their background). This worked out well because I already had a couple of other experienced crew I could count on as watch captains. Ultimatley we had a great trip, despite the variety of conditions we encountered, and everyone learned a lot and was happy to have made the trip.

As Paul said, it's all about expectations. As a skipper you have to be very clear about your expectations of the crew, and you have to make sure you understand what the crew expect of you. If you are a prospective crew, make sure you know what it is you are signing on to, what you can expect of the skipper and other crew, and what it is that will be expected of you. Communication is key!

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Old 09-09-2006, 03:34   #8
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Suspect this subject may be more relative to N.American crew as in the EU it's usually only 'professional' crew who get always get paid - and they'd normally have professional sailing qualifications to justify asking for wages.

More normally, guest crew accept that they are not really working - but getting an opportunity to sail without paying a charter fee. Skippers equally gain by having the guest crew on board.

Normally all sides chip in towards food / drink - the skipper paying for fuel / marina berths etc.

If the trip is one way and not really interesting, then its also not uncommon for skipers to cover airfares home.
Equally, if the trip is going somewhere delightful - crew often pay those return expenses themselves.

As most have said above - a happy ship is all about exceeding expectations and having a really clear idea of what's expected - and what's not.

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Old 09-09-2006, 04:43   #9
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There are a lot of things at play in the question, so this post may run on a bit. My apologies in advance.

Situation: A boat owner needs to move his/her vessel from one location to another (for purposes of argument, lets say this is from Norfolk to BVI). Not wishing to single hand he/she needs additional crew.

Scenario A: Sailors wishing to gain off shore experience volunteer and pay their own travel expenses in order to do so. Of course, they could take an offshore class which might give them a more structured learning experience, but this looks like a good deal.

Scenario B: A freelance yachty (some call them boat bums) is ashore in or near Norfolk and would rather spend time waiting for the next boat in BVI signs up for the voyage. Be careful here skipper. I’m not sure about BVI but some ports want assurances (like a plane ticket) that the yachty won’t become a vagrant on their soil. The owner might be required to purchase a one way ticket or be denied entry.

Scenario C: Experienced crew are willing to donate their time (heck they love sailing and boats in general) but are unwilling to take money out of pocket, so the owner pays for airfare back to the states or other similarly priced destination.

Scenario D: The owner is or has a licensed captain and offers berth and experience for a fee and students pay for same including their travel expenses. Be careful here skipper because your insurance may not cover a charter boat and at this point, that is what it is.

Scenario E: Friends or acquaintances want to go along on the trip, experience and fun. They are willing to share expenses and pay their own way home. Some fear this makes it a charter, but not so.

Chapman’s says "Until 1993 there was considerable ambiguity over who was a paying passenger and who was simply a guest politely offering to share the cost of a day on the water. New definitions published in Congressional Record S-16963 clarify the situation with unambiguous definitions.”

It goes on to say “Consideration means an economic benefit, inducement or profit (including a payment of money_ accruing to the owner of the vessel). It specifically excludes the voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage by monetary contribution or donation of fuel, food, beverages or other supplies.”


While this covers only U.S. waters I believe normal practice in other areas is similar.

Scenario F: The owner finds experienced crew and pays them the going rate plus expenses.

I am sure there are other possibilities but I can conceive of any of the above occurring and being acceptable.

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Old 09-09-2006, 05:08   #10
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My perspective on assembling a crew for an offshore passages may be unique. But I think there are many things which need to be "right" for it to work for me. Aside from all the issues of skill and competency... I would say personality is very key. I would not want to be "stuck" in a yacht for 2 weeks with people I did not like being with. In fact go to sea with someone and you will pretty quickly find out all you need to know about them... there are no strangers in an offshore passage.

Not every sailor owns a yacht and so their love of sailing puts them in the position of being crew. This is certainly true for the racers who pile on to yachts for round the buoys races. These perhaps would be the best source for competent crew... people who love to sail, and do not have their own boat to sail on and are anxious to sail.

A key point about a delivery crew... is that this is very much like a commercial endeavor. Someone needs to get the yacht from here to there and they REQUIRE crew to do it. Since a passage can be a pleasure cruise for someone... it can also be "work" for others.

The issue of not paying people for their work and paying their travel expenses surely can boil down to exploitation and how much fun the destination is has nothing to do with the TASK and work of getting there. What a delivery crew does is a benefit to the owner and he should not equate the "experience" of being at sea with compensation for the work and expenses.

Indeed friends may take on this for the comraderie.. but asking perfect strangers to work and then be out of pocket is nothing short of exploitation and the more expensive the yacht the more outrageous it would be.

But many people who own large boats may be barely holding on to them and not rolling in dough and be unable to pay for crew to move a yacht. This would be the exception and not the rule.

One thing which I decided early on when I got my boat a few decades aback... that I did not want to rely on others for the enjoyment and use of my boat. To me it was like having to have someone in the car each time a drive. ICK

This led me to focus on single handing and short hand sailing with non skilled crew (such as lovely wife). Shiva is set up for single handing and wife, for example, does things like watch and cook... She may not need know if what she sees is a hazard.. she reports almost everything and I make the decision. This is not ideal but I can get some rest on passages.

When I do sail with competent crew it is a real pleasure because not only can I get some rest, but I can learn from their experience and knowledge base.

I have had crew on board for getting Shiva to the Carib... Each of them wanted to go, in fact asked me if they could come along, and did not request airfare, as they made the trip a vacation... we cruised for a few weeks when we arrived. I did pay all passage expenses and meals. If they had asked for and expected return airfare I would have paid and willingly because at the time I needed their work!.

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Old 09-09-2006, 05:23   #11
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George did a great job of breaking this down. I think he covered all the scenarios too. I agree with his post completely. It's a much easier read than the "sliding scale" I had in my post.

This is indeed a great breakdown of all of the possibilities of using crew to deliver a boat. Coming from the "professional crew" side of things, I naturally see it through that looking glass. Of course friends can always deliver boats with you and pay their expenses, although even when I bought my 2nd boat (30' Oday 302), I paid my college buddies way to deliver it with me, even though it meant I was in the red that month.

It was just the right thing to do.

PS: Of course, Jef is right on with his post too. I agree 100% with that one as well. He was posting it while I wrote this one, but his post beat mine up here.
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Old 09-09-2006, 06:05   #12
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Jeff's post on personal chemistry is so true. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t judge ahead of time how people will get along. I remember an exchange between two wives where one viewed herself as a guest while all others were carrying their share of the duties. Anytime there was food prep, clean up, or other duties, she was basking in the sun. To make it even worse, we had a duty roster with everyone rotating cooking and cleaning on a set schedule.

A dear friend of mine, who’s purpose in life J is to straighten people out said “Honey, if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” The other then chipped in to the minimum level showing a pouty face each time, but we were all walking on eggs for a while.

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Old 09-09-2006, 07:07   #13
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$$$ on that one

Catamount - Curious, on the offshore trip where you had many people to choose from, who paid for what?

In response to Scenario A - the other comment about the offshore class, yes a person would have to pay but at least (as you said) it is structured training by a professional instructor & testing plus you get a certification if you are successful.

Personality - what techniques are you using to measure / determine the right fit for your crew? especially when people are not local? what about the Captain's personality?

Still great, more food for thought & helpful to sailors on both sides.
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Old 09-09-2006, 08:14   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuteman
Catamount - Curious, on the offshore trip where you had many people to choose from, who paid for what?
Trip was from Maryland to Maine. Four of the crew (including myself) were based in Maine or New Hampshire, two of the crew were based in Maryland. The crew from NH/ME had to get themselves to MD, but had the option of riding with me in the van I rented, which they all did (but they had to at least get themselves to my house or other agreed meeting point). I paid for the van, gas, and tolls, they paid for their own meals on the drive down. The crew from MD had to get themselves to the dock where the boat was berthed. We had planned menus and cooking rotation in advance, and each crew member was responsible for supplying the provisions for the meals they were supposed to prepare. Everybody brought way too much food!

BTW, the crew had to provide their own foulies and personal safety equipment (PFD/harness, etc...), which some of them bought as they didn't feel they had adequate gear already. We loaned one guy a spare PFD/harness set up we had.

Underway our only expenses were for a holding tank pumpout (I paid); ice (my father-in-law paid 'cause he's the one who wanted the ice); and one nights stay on a mooring (my father-in-law paid as a gift). While we were on the mooring, we ate one meal ashore and we all split the bill. The crew paid for their own laundry, too. We had already topped up on diesel, and used very little on the trip. I would have paid for any fuel fill ups (and I would have paid for the mooring, too, but my FIL wouldn't let me).

Once in Maine, the crew were responsible for getting themselves home. One of the MD guys was staying on in Maine anyway. The other MD guy had friends he planned to visit before taking the train back (he paid). For the rest of us, it was a matter of waiting for our wives to come and pick us up. I treated the crew to a meal out after our arrival.

FWIW, the log for this trip is available here.

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Old 11-09-2006, 17:06   #15
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Good Balance

Catamount:
Thanks for info. Seems like a real "team" approach led by You.

Everyone:
Another topic is communication. From responding to inquiries, setting voyage expectations, duties & problem resolution. Seen as many examples of what has not worked vs what has..............or some Captains who provide very little leadership. Lessons learned or suggestions can only help.
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