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Old 20-02-2007, 10:29   #1
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What should I expect?

Hi Forum,

So I am in the early (EARLY) stages of my move from land to sea. I have set a hopeful date of 5 years from now at which time I hope to be able to buy a liveaboard, and then go to living onboard fulltime and working on a contract basis as need be.

My job allows me to accept contracts for certain periods of time and then to be off if I like. Summers are generally a dead zone for my work. It's the one time of the year where living expenses generally outweigh income.

Now, because I have committed to eventually making the move offshore, I don't own a house. I live in a shared apartment, and can leave for a few months as I need to with no problems.

This makes travelling or other out of the ordinary activities pretty easy.

Now, the bad part is that I don't have any real sailing experience. Some small powerboating experience, and a bit of fun with my college sailing team, but nothing of practical experience.

I want to do some serious sailing - hopefully something international or long haul, and hopefully on a sailing vessel. Two main reasons -- first so I don't buy a boat in 5 years and realize I hate it (not very likely), and two so I don't kill myself or my crew when that boat becomes a reality.

Aside from being worthless on board, I am fairly technical oriented and understand everything I've read and the principles behind everything. I'm 30, mature, clean, have good manners, can cook, and am not a crook (insert mental image of Nixon here). I speak a decent amount of Germany and Spanish, and legal residence in Mexico and the EU (US citizen).

I spent 3 years in the Army and have no problem taking orders, and can pull my own weight, generally take the initiative, and don't wait to be told to do everything if I know it needs to be done.

Ok, so the short of that is basically that I'm not a pogue and I want to learn to sail (oh yeah, and I'll have no money). What are my chances of getting a spot on a crew?

Would it even be proper of me to ask, as I may very well be a liability (experience-wise) to a point to my first boat?

Also, how do you go about volunteering?

I'd apreciate any input or advice. Thanks,

Drew

Nuremberg, Germany
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Old 20-02-2007, 10:43   #2
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Start small. Buy (or gain access to) a small boat that you can sail every chance you can get. Sail. Sail. Sail. With that experience behind you, try to find a crew position in a local racing fleet. The boats in local weekly regattas always seem to have opportunities to fill in for so-and-so that couldn't make it that night. While it may not be the racing scene you're headed for, there's nothing like boat for boat competition to hone the skills.

The bottom line is that it may be tough to find a crew position on a bluewater cruiser without any sailing experience. Start small. Hours on the water make all the difference.
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Old 20-02-2007, 10:57   #3
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I just bought a book on sailing and a boat and got stuck into it. Learnt as I went. It aint that hard and you can get by with some pretty basic skills.
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Old 20-02-2007, 11:11   #4
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Thanks guys,

I think one problem I have is that the jobs that pay for my field are away from the water. Once I have a boat, I can work near the coast and still make enough to fund the life, but until then, I'm stuck landlocked most of the year.

Thus the idea of going out for a few weeks/months at a time.

Guess the other option is a website where you ask people to give you lots of money for nothing...hmm...
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Old 20-02-2007, 11:18   #5
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I would certainly second the notion of getting something of your own to learn on. I would suggest something in the 20 - 27 foot range (6 - 8 metres? ) - not because "smaller is better" but cos' "smaller is cheaper" ......and use her as much as you can - it ain't rocket science and more time on the water you spend (especially as Captain) the quicker you will learn.

Crewing for others would be a great way of gaining wider experiance - it may well be that the fact that you don't know a great deal is not the disadvantage you think - if folk are looking for crew for assisting with longer passages they may well be looking for little more than an extra pair of eyes for watchkeeping and a willingness to learn......and someone who is happy to be crew and not the skipper.......

Also in my neck of the woods local racing boats tend to be on the look out for crew, and seem to have to accept what they can find - I am guessing this may not be unusual .......probably a very good way to learn - if you can put up with the aggro / like that sort of thing.

Quote:
My job allows me to accept contracts for certain periods of time and then to be off if I like. Summers are generally a dead zone for my work. It's the one time of the year where living expenses generally outweigh income.
A word of warning. This was pretty much me for many a happy year (except I chose winters).......then the Missus landed on my plate............
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Old 20-02-2007, 23:23   #6
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Go to one of the sailing schools for free like Power Squadron or the like and start your courses (any of the marine supply house like West Marine can tell you of these courses), you will find somebody to sail with or someplace where people need crew for day sails. From there on out the direction is up to you.
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Old 21-02-2007, 04:58   #7
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When I came through Horta last year I was rafted up for a few days outboard some quite large boats with professional crews. No owners were aboard and I had the chance to hang out with the crews a bit. These 80 - 120 ft boats had three or four sailing crew each, plus a number (two - six) housekeeping crew. Duties for the housekeeping staff included cooking and cleaning, but most were doubled up on watches with the sailors and were learning. Not everyone was being paid.
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Old 21-02-2007, 08:59   #8
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Good advice everyone.

Just curious, anybody with info along these lines in Europe?

I didn't really consider the domestic crew side, but a start on a boat's a start on a boat.

Can anyone recommend good websites for crew postings?
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Old 21-02-2007, 10:08   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drew.ward
Can anyone recommend good websites for crew postings?
Yachting and Boating World: Viewing list of forums
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Old 21-02-2007, 11:18   #10
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Even if you are landlocked get a small boat to sail on a lake. Get one with enough accomodations so you can simulate cruising for a night or so to start out.

There are a lot of learning-mistakes to be made when you start out. Plenty of those can be made on a small lake in a small boat. Then you are ready for a bigger boat and bigger water.
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Old 21-02-2007, 14:35   #11
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Hi Drew,

There are several popular eu ports where seems to find larger yachts seeking crew. Around the Solent in the UK, Mallorca in the Balearics etc. Trouble is all the locals also know about them, and lots of young people this side also want to get out sailing.

Understand the frustrations if you work inland - but suspect there will be a small boat sailing club on a lake or water somewhere relatively close.
Get along there and just inquire.

IMHO crew spots on regular club race boats (when you do finally get close to the coast) are usually easier to grab than you might think, almost irregardless of your experience. I can recall times tearing my hair out to fill 15 spots for a last minute race entry!!
Anyway, the more experience you get, the better sailor you become, the greater the chance to move up onto a bigger yacht, and maybe one day getting paid for the privilege.
In the meantime - read, read, read. If and when you can afford it, do some sailing courses at a properly accredited academy - so's you gain qualifications.
And once you've got qualifications, got some experience, got some savings to help you out whilst you search, then maybes the time to go hunting the deep sea passage on a mega cruiser.
Easy, eh?

Good luck
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Old 24-02-2007, 06:57   #12
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Thanks for the advice and info everyone.

I've been asking around and found a decent sized lake south of Nuremberg. There are 2-3 marinas on it, and it looks open enough to be good for getting my feet wet (or not hopefully).

This place is a 40 minute trainride from Nuremberg, so if the weather's nice I'll be grabbing my bike and taking a ride down there to explore tomorrow.

I did some checking into classes, and they're quite expensive here (like $50 per person per hour with a minimum of 20 hours before they count for anything!!!). And, while you don't need a license to operate a boat in inland waters here, you do need a license to rent one.

So, I think I'm going to go down, scout the docks and see if I can get a decent deal on something small enough to single-hand and large enough to spend the weekends on.

Not sure what the prices are like here, but I won't make the mistake of going too small. I had a MacGregor 25 (or 27?) once, and being on top of it felt like a dog trying to balance on a slippery floor, and the cabin felt like a strange combination between an ice chest and a coffin!

If anything, this should be a far cry from my other sailing experience running 420's on Lake Pontchartrain...
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Old 24-02-2007, 07:10   #13
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No doubt find that once you get yer face known that opportunities will appear from just chatting to folk.

Good Luck!
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Old 28-02-2007, 11:51   #14
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So it looks like no sailing as long as I live in Nuremberg!

I took the train down to the only local lake today. I was hoping to get a feel for the community, maybe check out a few boats, and walk the marinas.

The satellite photos of the place showed a couple of pretty full marinas, but when I got there today there wasn't a boat, dingy or raft in the water!

The lakes nowhere near as big as the maps make it out to be, and the slips are sized for small day sailers only.

Well, kind of a bummer, but I'll keep looking...
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Old 01-03-2007, 06:30   #15
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Um maybe being winter has some effect? If you want to learn to sail try a sailing dinghy, or laser etc. Many clubs have kids classes, and nothing wrong with joining in. Sailing a small boat teachs you to sail because you do it all and see the results immediately. Racing may well teach you a small part of the overall task, like the effect of ballast on the rail - you, and why and how to move when told to.
Racing against the kids in their optimists will teach you more and faster. When you know how to set and trim a sail you will be given a bigger role on a yacht but again the smaller the boat the better, like 1 out of 2-3 not 1/8 crew because you will be given more to do and more training.
Also don't forget at least in the summer a lot of people may like to take the boat out for a day or so particularly retired people but have no one to crew. Ask around at the clubs or people working on their boats. Some old guy might give you in effect some individual coaching. It would help if you had done some basic reading first.
The main point is to learn to sail rather than learn to cruise.
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