I have just volunteered to do some crewing for an offshore delivery captain. My blue-water experience is limited. What is the best way to prepare myself?
John Kretschmer responds:
The best advice I can give about how to prepare for a delivery is to be flexible! That sounds simplistic, I know, but it is really important because things never quite go as planned. As a skipper I really appreciate crew members with good attitudes who carry their load, which is more important than sailing experience. And a good supply of jokes is always welcomed aboard.
Also, I like it when the crew asks questions when they are unsure, especially early in the voyage, because this will help the skipper later—particularly during an emergency. I once had a crewmember pester me with questions about the radar, but when I had to steer through fog several days later, it was very helpful to have a competent crew monitoring the radar. These are very general suggestions, but I think you'll find they hold true.
A few more tips: Don't hesitate to nap and rest whenever you have the chance. You will undoubtedly be keyed up and a few days without sleeping can leave you feeling quite lousy. Also, bring warmer clothes than you think will be necessary because it is frequently cool offshore even during the height of summer. Last, become involved with some aspect of the voyage that is yours more or less exclusively, whether it is diesel maintenance, radio communications, cooking, etc. This will give you focus and make the trip more enjoyable.