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Old 08-05-2010, 19:45   #1
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Advice on Finding a Crew Position

Hello all,
This is my first post here, but from what I've read I like all of you already...

My friend and I, both female grad students, are looking for a crew position in the Bahamas this June for about a week. We have little to no experience but love being on the water, and are eager to learn to sail. We are both athletic, and cook quite well.

I thought this board might be a good place to look as there might be ladies reading that have done something similar, or who know a fellow female captain looking for crew. Advice would also be appreciated on what to look out for, safety wise, along the way.

Thanks so much,
ChiGradStudent(s)
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Old 08-05-2010, 21:06   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum,

If I may suggest, if you are looking for an actual crew position you might need to offer more than one week. Most boats looking for crew will need them for delivery, charter or other situations that take much more than one week.

If you had experience in the business, large charter boats occasionally need extra crew for a charter week but in general one week on a boat with no experience is more like a free vacation. You might find a generous sailor willing to share his or her experience with an enthusiastic newbie with no strings for a week but I would also suggest cautiously evaluating any offers.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:23   #3
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Skipmac,
Thanks so much for replying. I've realized that our inexperience is not ideal, and unfortunately we're limited by our school schedules to that 7-10 day time frame. We really do like the idea of a sailing vacation, but being inexperienced, and wanting to learn to sail, we thought this might be a good route to go.

Instead of asking for a crew position, would it be better to volunteer our cooking skills or the like? In most cases the boats we're looking at on places like findacrew.net are looking for a combination of skilled crew and inexperienced passengers/crew. Also, though we'd be willing to pay for "sailing lessons" along the way, my impression is that to accept payment above splitting costs (which we are surely expecting to do) our captain would need a charter license, and I'm not sure how common it is for boat owners to have that. Or in our case, would it be better to look only for a charter-type experience?

Any help for us newbies would be appreciated
Thanks!
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Old 09-05-2010, 13:12   #4
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Hi CGS(s),

Glad to hear you have a realistic understanding of the possible limitations. Guess the US education system still requires a reasonable level of intelligence, at least on the graduate level.

There was a thread about a year ago on the forum that touched on this issue and one concern was that this type of request might generate offers that included an expectation of more than cooking skills. It is not impossible to find a generous and sincere offer to let you join a crew for a week but I recommend a careful check of the source.

Another option that might have a higher chance of success is to get together a group and share the cost of a one week charter. If you can find at least one or two experienced sailors that should be sufficient to satisfy the charter company requirements and direct the less experienced members of the group. If you can't find an experienced sailor to join in you could hire a captain.

I did this a few years ago with six friends. We chartered a 44' sailboat for 10 days and sailed from FL to Bimini and Cat Cay. The total cost per person, including food and drink, SCUBA tank fills, etc was about $700 (only additional cost was travel expense to FL). We filled every available bunk on the boat but were not overly crowded for a short vacation. You might be able to do it for less with a little careful planning.
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Old 09-05-2010, 19:06   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Guess the US education system still requires a reasonable level of intelligence, at least on the graduate level.
Haha, thanks.

The group charter suggestion is a great one! If we can't find people we know to go in on it with us, is there anyplace, website or otherwise, that we'd be able to look for people who want to do something similar?

I'll see if I can find that thread you mentioned, as that was one of our concerns as well.

Cheers!
ChiGradStudent
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:27   #6
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Hi CGSs,

There are websites that advertise for crew but I don't think they focus on chartering. I would try posting on Cruisers Forum. There are a lot of new sailors posting here looking for experience and experienced sailors that may join in or hire to be the captain. I know a couple locally that might be interested.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:32   #7
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Hi,

I found the old thread I mentioned. Some interesting discussion and a lot that will relate to your question.

Are there honourable sailors?
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:41   #8
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I would suggest you get down to your nearest marina (wearing a short skirt helps) and volunteer yourselves as crew for the next race or training session.... Often marinas have notice boards with "crew wanted" flyers. At least then you'll get some experience with real sailing, and it likely will be free if you are useful enough and can't afford to contribute to costs.

After that, I suggest you get a part-time job, then spend your savings on a Day Skipper course or equivalent - a bit like chartering a boat for a week, but you get an instructor, a course and hopefully a rating at the end of it thrown in!!!! It's not actually that expensive to do if you are serious.
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Old 12-05-2010, 20:29   #9
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For what you are looking for - a free week on a sailboat in the Bahamas - most likely you will have to offer - as you put in your post #3 "to volunteer our cooking skills or the like ?"It is that "or the like" that will be translated by any male vessel owner into activities you may or may not be wanting to offer.
- - The suggestion of getting some friends together and chartering a boat is the most practical and risk free way to spend some time on the water. And if you can get 6 or 8 people together the cost per person will most likely be less than cost of staying in a hotel/resort.
- - By renting your own boat - you can also have the charter outfit provide you with a competent Captain - then you will be totally free to have a wild and fun vacation and leave the "driving to the Captain." Captains are available in both genders.
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Old 16-05-2010, 10:10   #10
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Probably 95% of cruisers are couples or male...you just don't run across that many solo female captains. Also most of the sail cruising in the Bahamas is in the winter and the boats are being delivered now back up north beyond the hurricane zone. You would have a much better chance getting on as an extra hand on an a boat being delivered from around Ft. Lauderdale to Fort Pierce on north up to the Chesapeake or further north.

I don't mean to pour cold water on your idea but unless you are fairly flexible time wise, on the docks in florida wanting to go north I would say it is really an unlikely plan.

Many couples do prefer a few extra hands as crew when they move their boats though which would be much safer than traveling with single male sailors for obvious reasons.
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Old 16-05-2010, 11:49   #11
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I crewed on many boats when I was in my twenties. I would first suggest you pick only boats with a family or a husband wife team. It just avoids the possibility of the capn getting ideas (voice of experience). I found owners very willing to take on crew when there are kids aboard, the extra person keeping an eye on the kids really helps. I even started a "day care" up in the Rio Dulce for a few weeks, I had about 5-6 kids, and was an absolute blast. Anyways I digress , I think you are on the right track posting here, there are many families and some might be willing to "host" you, which is the approach I'd take.

If you want a more party atmosphere for your vacation, there are some "gentleman" sailors here at CF that also would be willing to host you,(you've probably already been contacted-sorry to use that as a verb!). There are also some rogues out there, so be sure to interview them carefully. If you get a bad vibe of him/them listen to it and move on. Be blunt about expectations, though that didn't seem to help with my enamored capn. I know a few gentleman sailors, I will contact them and pass on your post.

It can be done (what you are suggesting) but you are a bit under the gun with time constraints. Hang5 had a great suggestion with looking at the Chesapeake for a sailing trip, very pretty place and easy to get home quickly..

Good luck, have fun, and be safe.
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Old 16-05-2010, 13:00   #12
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I've often taken on inexperienced crew for just a week for either the BVIs or Bahamas. Often it's with charter trade time, which is very conducive to short cruises of that length. For me the reason is that I have more time to sail than most of my friends have to join me. One woman that joined me first via a crew finder board has now sailed with me 4 or 5 times. I prefer that to sailing solo.

In addition to this forum crew board, I suggest floatplan.com

If you have little experience, beware of people who are looking for crew because they need help sailing the boat or keeping watch as opposed to someone who just wants to share the experience. If it's a male captain, certainly feel out whether or not they have expectations other than just cruising, but I think to limit yourself to just husband and wife teams or just female captains is to exclude yourself from many if not most viable options. Of course, it also depends on what kind of experience you want. Personally, having the obligation and liability to care for the kids of someone I don't know is the last thing I'd want in a cruising experience, but obviously some enjoy that.

As a sailing instructor and other outdoor pursuits instructor, I have people sign up for instruction and trips all the time who know absolutely nothing about me. The idea that someone who asks questions and communicates with me to see if they are compatible crew is somehow less safe or is likely to have a worse time, makes absolutely no sense to me. I feel the opposite is true. Unlike commercial ventures, crewing allows you the opportunity to feel out the captain, crew, lifestyle and boat for compatibility. Take advantage of that fact.

There are plenty of opportunities for capable, but inexperienced female crew. Just use your common sense and ask a lot of questions.
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Old 27-06-2010, 10:02   #13
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Nautical62 has the right idea. I recall a young attractive woman who was planning on crewing for us from Long Beach to Mazatlan and as part of her duties was helping us prepare the boat for the trip. During our 2-3 weeks dockside, she met a friendly chap on a Cal 2-46 who tried to steal her away from us. She came to me and asked what she should do. I suggested that if she was truly interested in crewing for him that was OK with me but it would be a good idea to try a couple of day sails with him and perhaps an overnighter to see if the chemistry was right before venturing offshore. I told her it was no different than dating shoreside except more difficult to extract yourself if things didn't turn out well. After a daysail with her new found skipper she tried an overnighter which went off swimmingly I was told. When I asked her what she had learned about sailing she replied, 'lines are for boats, ropes are for sex'! She then tried a 2 day cruise up to Catalina which did not work out well. I received a call from her in Dana Point asking if i would come and get her as her new skipper had turned out to have an uncontrollable temper when things did not go to his liking. She ended up crewing for us for several months in Mexico and gained some good experience boat handling, mechanical maintenance, navigation and provisioning. Don't be afraid to go for it... just start slow and be clear about the limits of what you are offering and your abilities. Once you have a couple of passages under your belt, not only will you have a whole new set of skills to offer, you will have a network of folks to line you up with future crew opportunities. Have fun out there and stay safe...
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