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Old 04-03-2020, 18:00   #1
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Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

I am trying to come up with a plan to move myself forward (sailing wise) to the point where boat ownership and ocean cruising is a feasible possibility. One idea is volunteering as crew to get some experience and learn by doing. But I have little to no experience at this point. (I love sailing but other than one summer where I crewed once a week for a guy who raced on a local lake (26' sailboat) I only have experience dinghy sailing. I have a sunfish)

I am a 50 year old male (thinking most people looking for this kind of thing are probably significantly younger). I think I have a lot to offer, I am fit, in good health, and my life to date has left me with what I think is a very well rounded skill set (just not much sailing) for the next few years I am only able to do something like this from say November To March as outside of that window my career wont allow me time to do so. But that kind of works for the sailing season anyway.

In your opinion if someone in my shoes was to offer my services for a month or so at a time (I am flexible with the month thing but I am a long way from the water so to get there for just a few days here and there doesn't make $ sense)

Do you think those needing crew would be interested in me or am I kidding myself. Is this something worth pursuing in your opinion.

please be brutally honest with me. your not going to hurt my feelings ( I will let you know if you do)
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Old 04-03-2020, 18:04   #2
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

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I am trying to come up with a plan to move myself forward (sailing wise) to the point where boat ownership and ocean cruising is a feasible possibility. One idea is volunteering as crew to get some experience and learn by doing. But I have little to no experience at this point. (I love sailing but other than one summer where I crewed once a week for a guy who raced on a local lake (26') I only have experience dinghy sailing. I have a sunfish)

I am a 50 year old male (thinking most people looking for this kind of thing are probably significantly younger). I think I have a lot to offer, I am fit, in good health, and my life to date has left me with what I think is a very well rounded skill set (just not much sailing) for the next few years I am only able to do something like this from say November To March as outside of that window my career wont allow me time to do so. But that kind of works for the sailing season anyway.

In your opinion if someone in my shoes was to offer my services for a month or so at a time (I am flexible with the month thing but I am a long way from the water so to get there for just a few days here and there doesn't make $ sense)

Do you think those needing crew would be interested in me or am I kidding myself. Is this something worth pursuing in your opinion.

please be brutally honest with me. your not going to hurt my feelings ( I will let you know if you do
Sailing is labor intensive

Extra meat is always needed

The problem with boats is that they are tiny

You must convince people that you can live in s small box with other people and not cause problem and end up bring thrown over board to feed the sharks

Each year countless folks show up on the waterfront looking for s ride

Many end up buried at see or dumped on deserted island
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Old 04-03-2020, 18:16   #3
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

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Sailing is labor intensive

Extra meat is always needed

The problem with boats is that they are tiny

You must convince people that you can live in s small box with other people and not cause problem and end up bring thrown over board to feed the sharks

Each year countless folks show up on the waterfront looking for s ride

Many end up buried at see or dumped on deserted island
You are not too far from the truth there. Hundreds maybe even thousands of would-be sailboat hitchhikers descend upon the Canaries trying to get mostly to South America.

Few have experience. Most have ukuleles or some other crap you're expected to store. They are that desperate to get a boat, they take any boat without vetting the captain or the boat. Surprise surprise it doesn't always turn out and you get stories about bad crew, horrible captains, or people getting themselves into difficult situations.

At 50 years old you are more likely to be taken seriously. And will be more of the same age as some of the boat owners, whether helps much I don't know, but it can't hurt.
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Old 04-03-2020, 18:25   #4
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

You didnít say where you are, but I donít think you are crazy. Are you willing to learn? (Sounds like you are.) Can you you maintain your composure in the face possible discomfort or stress? (Thatís a good selling point.) Have you taken any kind of basic class or can you find port and starboard and be willing to learn a few knots? Ok, Iím guessing yes. My point is, try to connect with a well-known delivery skipper wherever you are. In one delivery you can learn a LOT and find out if thatís the life for you. If your time is flexible, then thatís a plus.
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Old 04-03-2020, 22:08   #5
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

Absolutely no issues with your ideas. If you had read a book or two on sailing for dummies (and that book in particular is fairly good), then you would certainly be of use to a skipper. Knowledge of mechanical systems and diesel engines in particular is always a plus, as is the ability to cook and the knowledge of whether you're prone to seasickness.

The only thing I can think of is that many skippers will prefer to meet you before committing. Even sharing a couple of beers gives you a lot more of an idea of whether you'll be able to cope without killing each other. If you're far from the sea now then that could be trickier.
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Old 04-03-2020, 22:36   #6
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

Hello, Debmar,

Sometimes deliveries can get scary. Are you the kind of guy who will do what is asked of you immediately, then discuss about it after it is done? if you have questions? That is a skill you will need.

Ann
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Old 04-03-2020, 23:12   #7
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

Post a profile on crewbay/crewseekrrs/findacrew

Or the Facebook crewing pages- sailboat hitchhikers for example

Make the profile interesting, play your strengths, willingness to learn etc, give a location and financial expectations (as in wanting to be paid or willing to contribute costs, which if you are will be a big bonus on the fb pages) and you'll find something pretty quick.
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Old 05-03-2020, 00:58   #8
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

It would be helpful to know where you are and what sort of crewing you'd like to do. I may be stating the obvious, but weekly race crewing is dramatically different from offshore passages. It would be good to take small bites at first. Short passages, weekend cruising - that sort of thing.

Are there some other boats amongst your racing cohort that might do weekend cruises? What about short passages (such as the CF Member a couple of weeks ago who wanted to go from Key West to Ft. Lauderdale or Jacksonville to Miami)? If that's your local area, it would be easy to hop on and learn-as-you-go.

Pay attention to Mike in Post#3 and Ann's Post#6. Mike's point regarding all the potential hitchhikers at particular global stopping points speaks to what part of the world you're in - which will dictate your options.

Ann's point (and she's one of the saltiest-of-all-salty -dogs on this Forum) is the attitude you'll be bringing to the boat.

A boat is not a democracy. You have to be prepared to follow direction of the owners/captain without discussion. This is why you need to meet with people beforehand so you can hopefully get a sense of how it would be to crew for that skipper, as much as that skipper is taking the measure of how it would be to have you on board as crew.

Here are the three infallible rules I learned from an old Salt before my first month-long, offshore passage:

1. NEVER be late for a watch. Never. Seriously. Never.
2. Keep all your stuff in one place - don't leave books and socks and foulies all over the place. In a small space like a boat, it will drive everyone mad (I have a soft-sided duffle and basically everything goes in there - in my bunk).
3. Don't be selfish. If you're making a cup of tea or a sandwich, ask if anyone else would like one as well. (It's about crew morale, yes, but it's also about maximizing resources - if you're turning on the propane or opening the fridge, you might as well be heating the kettle or making sandies for 4 people rather than just one).

Best of luck! (and do let us know how you get on)
Warmly,
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Old 05-03-2020, 04:41   #9
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

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You are not too far from the truth there. Hundreds maybe even thousands of would-be sailboat hitchhikers descend upon the Canaries trying to get mostly to South America.

Few have experience. Most have ukuleles or some other crap you're expected to store. They are that desperate to get a boat, they take any boat without vetting the captain or the boat. Surprise surprise it doesn't always turn out and you get stories about bad crew, horrible captains, or people getting themselves into difficult situations.

At 50 years old you are more likely to be taken seriously. And will be more of the same age as some of the boat owners, whether helps much I don't know, but it can't hurt.

Yah the alternative lifestyle gang , dope heads , flea bags ...

Stay clear

The best source for young , serious type crew are the yacht master schools

These young kids need sea miles to finish off their license

You can normally get good for the price of a return ticket plus grub
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Old 05-03-2020, 07:53   #10
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Thanks for the replies, and some more info

I appreciate the replies and I can answer some of the questions.

Re: Willing to learn..... absolutely without a doubt. This idea of volunteering as crew is in no way looking for vacation. I would expect to have to put in a lot of effort and my goal is to learn as much as possible. And like most things what you get out of something is pretty much directly related to how much you put in. (so I would and will be studying and familiarizing myself with whatever resources I can find to maximize what I get out of this)

Re: Location.....this is a big part of my challenge. I am about 1400 miles from either the pacific ocean or the atlantic. Dead centre of Canada so its not easy to just pop over the ocean to try and pick up a few short sails to get a taste and work my way up. Getting there costs

Re: Duration.....Tied closely with what I am trying to get out of this and with my location challenges. I would definitely prefer a longer sail to a short one. I can allow for 3 - 5 weeks this upcoming year. (and anytime from mid nov to mid march) But I totally realize with my lack of experience someone will be taking a risk by taking me on. It's easy for me to tell someone that I will be fine but I don't know. I do however think that I do have a firm grasp on the potential challenges involved. ( at least as much as possible without actually having done so before)

Re: Scary...Ö again I think I know what I am getting in to. My personality and life is and has been such that I have had the opportunity to face a lot of unknowns. Often its scary but the result has always been that if you push through it has always worked out in the end. And I am expecting to put my life in the hands of the skipper on this thing. With the realization that I do what I am told and ask questions later.

If this proceeds and I am able to find something that fits I think the risk will be for both sides. For sure a skipper looking for crew will be taking a risk on me....but from my end I am taking a risk as well, I might find a good skipper who I can learn a lot from or a nightmare could result as well.

thanks again.
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Old 05-03-2020, 08:41   #11
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one more question

I hope I have been able to give a bit of a picture of who I am, what I hope to achieve, and what I can hopefully offer. (limited I realize)

For those of you who have read through posts so far. In your opinion what type of arrangement should I anticipate will be possible. As In If I fly myself to the ocean and back will all my passage related costs be covered or will I have to contribute to passage costs or contribute plus pay. Or what do you think I will be looking at if other than above?

I have been following (and will continue to follow) the crew wanted posts to try and get an idea but I am sure some of you out there have a pretty good idea of what value (if any) I would have. Some have mentioned trying to find or contact delivery skippers, where would I find those individuals?

Oh, also I think I am a fairly good cook should that sway the balance in this equation.
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:23   #12
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

get in touch with the delivering companies, they normally need crew and ocean crossings are great to let you learn and see what it's really like
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:34   #13
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Sometimes deliveries can get scary. Are you the kind of guy who will do what is asked of you immediately, then discuss about it after it is done? if you have questions? That is a skill you will need.

Ann
This. On my boat we generally make decisions by consensus, but when things get exciting at sea there can only be one skipper, and that's me. I tell this to everyone who boards my boat. I don't issue non-negotiable commands very often, but when I do I expect immediate compliance. I acknowledge responsibility for the outcome, and don't mind a little analysis afterward. That's how we all learn.
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:40   #14
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Re: Is Volunteering as crew to get experience a realistic plan? (for me)

Go to sailing school. Reduce most of the risks mentioned above. Question: if you are now far from water, what are your plans for future boar?
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:56   #15
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Re: one more question

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In your opinion what type of arrangement should I anticipate will be possible. As In If I fly myself to the ocean and back will all my passage related costs be covered or will I have to contribute to passage costs or contribute plus pay. Or what do you think I will be looking at if other than above?
On my boat your transportation cost is yours. Almost everything else is covered by me. You show up with--at the least--clothing for the weather anticipated, gloves, good foulies and boots, a hat and sunglasses, a good knife, a headlamp, and your PFD. A list of good items to bring is easy to find, but don't overdo it. No suitcases or big backpacks. Space is tight, even on big boats. I have harnesses and tethers for extra crew, and sunscreen, lip stuff, monkey butt powder, wipes, etc. Provisioning is split amongst the crew. If you're a delightful human I'll probably buy you dinner at the destination port.

There's a lot of good advice here. In my opinion, never being late for a watch is a huge deal. If I have to come wake you up for your watch, and then wait twenty minutes while you get yourself organized, then that's a big fail. When it's 3:55 am and cold as hell, and my watch is over at 4:00, I expect to see you on deck smiling and ready to go at 3:58. My dad was in the Army. He taught me that if you're not early, you're late. Of course he liked a thirty minute buffer. I'm fine if you just show up before I start looking at my watch.
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