Hmmm...thank you all for your input. Everything I learn on this board is so informative. I don't know what i'd do without sailnet and cruisersforum.
As I mentioned before, my fiance and I have volunteered to crew on many voyages and gained invaluable experience. These were opportunities we wouldn't exchange for anything. Yes, we were expected to pay for a portion of fuel and all of our personal food. We didn't think this was strange. We were happy we didn't have to pay for the captain's time. Again, we learned so much for such little. (In fact for this trip, we're finding fuel to be our smallest expense by far).
That said, these other trips were NOT tough sails (well, except on one side of Vancouver Island). I realize THIS trip will be a tough sail, and that is why my fiance and I are paying a sea captain for his expertise, time, and willingness to train us in these conditions. It is a tough route.
We didn't realize that there was a difference in expectations based on the route until now, but it does make a lot of sense to not ask a guest to help pay for fuel in a route such as this. Of course. This is something we are not expecting anymore. We have contacted the people who have contacted us already to volunteer and let them know that we were mistaken.
Again, our former request was not our intention to take advantage of anyone; we were simply imitating what we have seen out there.
Rockdawg, I'm sorry to hear that you were treated so poorly on that trip. I have never been treated as anything but a respected guest when I have crewed for free so please don't assume that is typical. The only decks I've ever washed were my own. Similarly, anyone who crews on our boat is treated with the respect they deserve.
Anyway, we are making our decisions about crew in the next couple days and are just about finished refitting our boat. Floatplan has been adjusted and readjusted again. Ooooh, exciting! We are planning to set sail on the 4th. Wish us luck!!