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Old 01-26-2000
Mark Matthews Mark Matthews is offline
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Other People's Boats

 
Most boat owners need a willing-and-able crew to get their vessels out sailing. You could be just what they are looking for, enabling you to learn a lot while you're along for the ride.
 
Befriending a boat owner through dockside PR skills can get you out on the water quickly and is usually a safe way to go. Many marinas and yacht clubs have bulletin boards where a variety of boat-related communication takes place. A small sign stating that you are looking to crew on a boat or are willing to work in exchange for sailing experience is a good place to start. In the beginning, enthusiasm is an important part of getting out on the water.

On a sunny, breezy weekend, the marina closest to you is probably buzzing with activity. People will doubtlessly be working on their vessels and, given the heavy maintenance demands of sailboats, they just might need a hand. If you envision or dream of a vessel of your own in the future, this can be valuable experience and can orient you to the many systems a sailboat has. Having looked forward to it all week, most weekend do-it-yourselfers are down on the docks and usually will take time to answer questions, happy to have an excuse to stop whatever project they’re engaged in. Tell them they have a nice boat, a statement for which every boat owner has a soft spot, and ask some of these classic questions:

  • How long is your boat?
  • What is her draft?
  • How long have you owned her?
  • What year was she built?
  • Who is the designer?
  • What kind of engine does she have?
  • Looks like a nice day for sailing. Are you going out today, or do you know anyone who is?

While asking someone you don’t know for a ride may seem intimidating at first, most sailors are more than happy to spread their knowledge and it beats standing on the dock watching everyone pull away. However, if your potential ride seems gruff or starts using power tools in mid-sentence, move along.