If you’re interested in learning about the basics of boat crewing or hitchhiking for any reason, you’re in the right place!
In this post, I’ll explain the “what’s” and “why’s”. And if you feel you want to pursue it, in my following post, I share the “how’s”: the step-by-step process of how to find a boat to crew or hitchhike on.
There’s an endless list of reasons why people want to crew for a boat. Here’s a few:
1. Affordable transportation:
Hitchhiking by boat is an affordable mode of transportation for long distance travel, and can be potentially, eco-friendly too!
2. Experience in sailing:
Don’t be discouraged if you’re starting off with zero sailing experience and you’re desire is to learn to sail! As long as you’re a motivated crew and willing to learn, captains are very willing to take on sailing newbies.
3. Experience of living on a boat:
Putting the actual sailing part aside, living on a boat is an experience in of itself. If you’re interested in alternative ways of more simplistic living, boat-living is an excellent option to explore.
4. Cruising boat experience:
There are many boat owners slowly ‘cruising’ along coastlines, exploring these remote regions on their boats, as they engage in adventurous activities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling, scuba diving, spear fishing, climbing, etc.
5. Learning to fix boats:
If you’re motivated to learn to repair boats, whether it’s from hoisting a new mast to sewing holes in sails, from renovating the boat’s interior to making aesthetic improvements, or from repairing the diesel engine to replacing a failed battery house bank… crewing may be the right avenue for you!
Your motivation may be a combination of the above reasons!
Similar to most exchanges in life, there’s the question, “What’s in it for me?” (‘WIIFM’). I’ll share some of the many reasons boat owners are willing to accept crew members on their boats.
Responsibilities you’d have as a crew member depend on the boat owner’s reason for seeking crew. However, crew responsibilities can include any of the following:
With the Facebook groups and Crew-seeking network websites, you can do your research from anywhere, even while lying down on the couch in your own home!
However, for the best chances of finding a boat, situate yourself in the right sailing town during the right sailing season! So, get yourself to a coastal sailing town (in the following post I share exactly how to do this)! In doing so, you also have the opportunity to spend time with your potential captain & crew before departing out to sea with them (i.e., to avoid potentially miserable experiences!).
If you’re searching for opportunities online (i.e., Facebook groups, Crewing-networking sites, etc.), typically, boat owners will request a contribution of between $20 – $50 per day, plus any immigration/ visa fees collected upon entering a new destination. The $20 – $50 daily fee is a contribution towards paying the food expenses, fuel costs, anchorage/ marina fees, any repair costs along the way, etc. Essentially, you’re covering a portion of the shared expenses incurred while you’re living on the boat.
However, if you’re walking through the marinas & bars of a sailing town to meet boat owners in-person, you’ll find that most sailors only request for you to “pay your way”. Typically, this means paying for your own immigration/ visa/ custom fees into each country, and for any miscellaneous items you may need along the way (i.e., if you break your flip flops and need to buy a new pair). “Paying your way” may also include splitting the grocery bill when you restock on groceries for the boat, which shouldn’t amount to more than $5 – $10 per day.
In Part 2 of this 2-post series, I’ll describe the detailed step-by-step process of finding a boat to crew for, or hitchhike on, including my top tips for success!