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Old 13-01-2011, 07:47   #1
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Keeping Potential Casual Crew Committed

Several times over the years the time previous sailing companions have to sail is less than the total time I have, so sometimes I make up the difference by taking on casual crew. For the most part, this has worked out very well. One has come back to join me 6 times now. However, over the past few years I've had more experiences with "committed" crew canceling at the last minute, making it difficult for me to find a replacement. Usually, it's because they had something else, like a potential job change going on they did not tell me about and were not truly committed.

I'm just wondering if other people here who take on casual crew have come up with some methods to help ensure that crew is vested in the experience and won't cancel at the last minute.
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Old 13-01-2011, 08:09   #2
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I think you have to size out the type of person they are from the beginning. Are they "flakes" who do not understand the meaning of commitment and how important that commitment may be to another person? Are they the type who cannot even make a phone call as soon as their plans change? What is their background?..do they have a job that requires a deal of responsibility including the responsibility to keep their word? ...or are they more of a the free spirit personality who do not want to be "tied down" with responsibilities? I think we have all experienced that type of person and can pretty much figure out who might have that type of personality before they have the chance to disappoint you. The best you can do is to avoid taking on that type of person as a crew member.

Providing your crew with lunch and beverages is a nice incentive to keep them coming back. It also says they are appreciated.

I think it is upon you to nicely tell others that being a crew member means having at least some sense of commitment and if things change that they are expected to call well in advance. If they cannot agree to that then nicely state that you don't want them on the boat.

It's better to know you are going to be short handed well in advance than to find out you are short handed five minutes before you have to get underway. I think the way to avoid this situation is to avoid taking on flake like personalities as crew.
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Old 13-01-2011, 08:22   #3
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I think that you might be better off with crew that are really enthusiastic, over perhaps better qualified crew that are not quite as keen on going. Usually they are committed when they have bought their air tickets.
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Old 13-01-2011, 08:40   #4
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I do find the airfare is a good indicator. If they are slow to do that when the time comes, they are probably not committed. I need to get better at having crew get their tickets further out. The other problem is, a ticket is not really commitment to me.
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Old 13-01-2011, 11:14   #5
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In my response I had assumed more day sailing and day racing type of sailing....where you need a team of people to come back multiple times, consistently.
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Old 13-01-2011, 11:33   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
Several times over the years the time previous sailing companions have to sail is less than the total time I have, so sometimes I make up the difference by taking on casual crew. For the most part, this has worked out very well. One has come back to join me 6 times now. However, over the past few years I've had more experiences with "committed" crew canceling at the last minute, making it difficult for me to find a replacement. Usually, it's because they had something else, like a potential job change going on they did not tell me about and were not truly committed.
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I'm just wondering if other people here who take on casual crew have come up with some methods to help ensure that crew is vested in the experience and won't cancel at the last minute.


As someone who performs planning for a living, your situation frustrates and irritates me quite a bit. I too have/had this problem with my family and friends committing to planned events and below is my solution and while this won't entirely solve your problem, it might ensure you have a crew for your planned event.

When you plan a cruise invite more crew than you need, telling them that the first one who commits (in your case with a plane ticket and a deposit) gets a spot on the boat. Ensure they understand if you have to replace them and it costs you, then they lose their deposit. Additionally, if that person “no shows” on you (without a truly valid reason), leave them off the list the next time, or put them at the bottom.

I’ve found that those that are really committed are willing to put up a bit of money to guarantee their spot. If the cruise doesn’t normally cost your friends money, then you can refund the money when they show up.

If THAT doesn’t work, invite me, I won’t back out.
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Old 13-01-2011, 12:32   #7
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i am finding a problem occurs when the potential crew is asked "when ye coming here" so i ask that first now-- it usually causes either loss on signalz very very suddenly or loss of contact with that soul. i8 figger if i dont have ccrew for my adventure, the first leg, the killer one, is longest. folks dont like looong passages at sea. when i getthere i should be able to find someone looking for a passage to somewhere i will go.....south.....if not--i will still get there.....
had commitment problems so far ffrom 4 souls-- my former sailpartner, and 3 others. i know my former sailpartner has health issues. the rest were teases and merely curious souls. oh well--those who show up ar for real, the rest are words online.
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Old 13-01-2011, 12:49   #8
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I would only rely on people I knew I could rely on. Downside is that most people's lives don't revolve around "you" and your wishes, so the reliable is always going to be a small pool...........therefore IMO the question becomes how to manage the unreliable.

IME for getting folk to actualy turn up then money helps and strangely enough not money they get - but money they spend. The amount is not really important as seems that some sort of principle is involved ........I have not tried this for boat crewing purposes, but in OP's shoes I would be looking for crew to commit by airfare ticket and simply a contribution to the onboard beer fund .......well in advance.

Not looking for a large sum that would hurt to lose and an amount they know they would easily get back in Beer or Food when onboard - whether $20 or $50 it's the principal.
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Old 13-01-2011, 12:52   #9
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share the sail works for me--is not alot of money and i dont have the stigma of paid crew, a si am not a captain.
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Old 14-01-2011, 07:57   #10
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Thanks for the additional thoughts folks. Small boat, so booking in excess is not easily done at present. This has never been a problem for me with returning crew/guests, just first timers. It never seems to be about affordability. If anything it's more about the lack of a financial commitment. With nothing vested, it's easy for something else to become the new priority and/or "commit" to something one is not really committed to in the first places, since the commitment costs nothing. I'd like to have a way of potential crew to have to put down some earnest money so I know they are committed, but at the same time, I can understand why someone who has never sailed with me would be reluctant to do that.
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Old 14-01-2011, 08:19   #11
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Not clear to me from the posts what type of sailing, but then I'm usually slow picking up details and have to have things spelled out for me.

It appears you are referring to a cruising and not racing situation. If so, I would not depend on crew at all. Invite them and if they come great. If they don't, set your boat up for single or short handed sailing. Not difficult at all on a 32'.

If racing, well different story. Hard to be competitive without a few deck apes and rail birds. If racing maybe you should start buying a better brand of beer for enticement?
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Old 14-01-2011, 08:20   #12
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Suggest letting peer pressure do the work for you. Set a goal - for instance, a specific regatta, race series, or voyage. Build a core team with alternate/backup for each position by tryouts. Practice, and those that practice best win the spot. The idea is to help them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. You'll need to provide some tangible benefit to crewing - maybe plaques for each team member (don't forget ground crew), or shirts and hats, or a photo of them racing. Once they feel part of the team, they will be hard pressed to let their teammates down. That's peer pressure. And the skipper can encourage it.
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Old 14-01-2011, 08:27   #13
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I'd like to have a way of potential crew to have to put down some earnest money so I know they are committed, but at the same time, I can understand why someone who has never sailed with me would be reluctant to do that.
Maybe it's time to re-think your approach to crew. I've spent hundreds of days crewing for others, and have had dozens of sailors crew for me. Never once have I asked a crew member to invest in one of my own voyages, and never once have I contributed to someone else's cruising kitty. Whenever I've helped with a one-way delivery, the vessel owner has always paid the return (or outbound) airfare.

I consider my crew to be volunteers, and am happy to pay for their food expenses, et cetera in return for the service they provide. Using this approach, I can honestly say that I've never had trouble filling a crew berth. Never. Granted, it's far easier to recruit crew to help sail a larger boat than a smaller boat--there's nothing like being able to offer crew their own on-suite cabin--but that may be all the more reason not to ask crew to help fund the kitty on a 32' vessel.
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Old 14-01-2011, 09:45   #14
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Maybe it's time to re-think your approach to crew. I've spent hundreds of days crewing for others, and have had dozens of sailors crew for me. Never once have I asked a crew member to invest in one of my own voyages, and never once have I contributed to someone else's cruising kitty. Whenever I've helped with a one-way delivery, the vessel owner has always paid the return (or outbound) airfare.

I consider my crew to be volunteers, and am happy to pay for their food expenses, et cetera in return for the service they provide. Using this approach, I can honestly say that I've never had trouble filling a crew berth. Never. Granted, it's far easier to recruit crew to help sail a larger boat than a smaller boat--there's nothing like being able to offer crew their own on-suite cabin--but that may be all the more reason not to ask crew to help fund the kitty on a 32' vessel.

I don't look for crew as a source of funding and have never benefited financially from having them join me. It's the fact they haven't had to invest in anything that I feel is part of the problem. It's easy for someone to say they are committed in something they have nothing at stake in.

Also, "crew" join me on a very different basis than what you describe. They are more guests, or friends sharing a sailing vacation with me and me teaching them to sail, than about needing crew to help me sail or deliver a boat. I can and have solo sailed the boat quite often. I just prefer to share the experience and expand my circle of sailing friends.

And that's an approach I don't care to change. To me cruising with friends is the motivation to sail.
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Old 14-01-2011, 09:55   #15
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Not clear to me from the posts what type of sailing, but then I'm usually slow picking up details and have to have things spelled out for me.

It appears you are referring to a cruising and not racing situation. If so, I would not depend on crew at all...
Yep cruising. Sorry for not being more clear on that point.

I don't depend on them. I can and do sail on my own, but prefer to share the experience. I usually get a lot of interest and turn many down. The problem is when someone cancels at the last minute, it's usually not practical to find a last minute replacement. The time's too short and those who initially expressed interest have either found other things or understandably are not as excited after being turned down once. In this case, someone I've sailed with previously would love to go, but she can't change her work schedule on this short notice.

I'd like to be sure those who say they are committed are truly committed so I don't turn away those who truly would be committed. It's just a waste that I want to cruise with someone and someone wants to cruise with me, but it doesn't happen because someone else says they are committed when they in fact are not.

Again, this never happens with returning crew and does not happen all the time, but still happens more than I think it needs to.
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