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  #1  
Old 02-05-2008
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Information Please!

I am 49 and have been sailing for several years (since 1981) but I don’t have any certificates or documented experience. I have a boat myself (30’ C&C) which I sail in Puget Sound with the family mostly on day and weekend trips. Thus far, all my experience has been limited to calm water (the wife doesn’t like conditions too blustery) day sails or weekends. I would like to get some experience blue water sailing along the Pacific coast anywhere between Alaska and California, possibly Hawaii.

Some information I was hoping for feedback on:
1. Are there crew opportunities in these areas? The reason I ask is because I see a lot of people offering themselves as crew, a few postings for crew-needed, and no idea what the reality is.
2. What is the average length of a Blue water crossing? What I am really thinking about is how long it takes to go from Hawaii to the West Cost as a yard stick as a longest case.
3. Having a regular job, how are opportunities typically arranged; are they typically planned in advance or typically last minute opportunities
4. Any other suggestions, insight, or education anyone is willing to share

Thanks for the education!
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  #2  
Old 02-06-2008
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Right now there are folks looking for Vic-Maui crew, both for the race and the return.
Check the Vic-Maui website.
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Old 02-06-2008
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Crewing on trans-oceanic bluewater passages isn't really a good idea if you have a day job to keep. Trying to sail to a set schedule is a good way to end up DEAD.

There are plenty of crew opportunities, but the best ones are usually via word-of-mouth. It would seriously help you if you had additional skills, like celestial navigation, watch keeping, cooking; and certifications, like CPR, First Aid, STCW 95, etc. and could list them when applying for a crew position.

Your best bet may be some of the bigger races, like the Victoria Maui race Plumper mentions. These races have set start dates and the average length of the race is fairly well known, within a day or two, so they can be planned for to some degree.
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Old 02-06-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jflynn129 View Post
I am 49 and have been sailing for several years (since 1981) but I don’t have any certificates or documented experience. I have a boat myself (30’ C&C) which I sail in Puget Sound with the family mostly on day and weekend trips. Thus far, all my experience has been limited to calm water (the wife doesn’t like conditions too blustery) day sails or weekends. I would like to get some experience blue water sailing along the Pacific coast anywhere between Alaska and California, possibly Hawaii.

Some information I was hoping for feedback on:
1. Are there crew opportunities in these areas? The reason I ask is because I see a lot of people offering themselves as crew, a few postings for crew-needed, and no idea what the reality is.

Yes, both for paid and volunteer cruising. You'd need to start as a volunteer.

2. What is the average length of a Blue water crossing? What I am really thinking about is how long it takes to go from Hawaii to the West Cost as a yard stick as a longest case.

There is no adverage. It all depends on the boat and the course taking. You can often find one that will appeal to you.

3. Having a regular job, how are opportunities typically arranged; are they typically planned in advance or typically last minute opportunities

Both, most are planned in advance but then a crew member will duck out or a boat will need to be moved sooner then planned. Having a job will limit whats avalible to you, but won't eliminate the possibility.

4. Any other suggestions, insight, or education anyone is willing to share

Thanks for the education!
Check around your local marinas. There is nothing better then the local area traditions. Figure out how much time you can give. Not just for the cruise but for the fit out as well. If your going to crew it's better to help get the boat ready, you get a chance to get to know who your going to be sailing with. This can often be done on the weekends and evenimgs. So include this when your figuring out how much time you have. Most important, don't get caught up in the destination. The funnest crewing jobs I had where on boats and in places that were not my first choice. Ironicly, Hawaii was one of the least fun places I went, because the program was crappy. Since you have very little cruising expereince, any where will be new to you. Even a place you've vacationed before takes on a new feel when you come to it by boat. Good Luck
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Old 02-06-2008
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Plan a cruise up around the outside of Vancouver Island. Plenty of local bluewater experience to be had right here in your backyard.
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Old 02-07-2008
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You might check out opportunities on the Baha Ha Ha "race" from San Diego to Cabo St. Lucas leaving every year around the 1st of November. See http://www.baja-haha.com/. I've heard this is usually a fairly "tame" (but perhaps not entirely "sane") first offshore experience and the schedule is reasonable fixed (wx permitting, of course). There's a link on the website to Latitude38 crew lists.
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Old 02-08-2008
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Pick up crew

Offshore sailing in small yachts (i.e. 30'-60' and bigger) and schedules don't mix. Having sailed from Seattle to Australia via West Coast USA, Mexico and the South Pacific & New Zealand on my 40' sloop utilizing unpaid crew I can tell you I wouldn't consider anyone not interested in a 90 day commitment.

Remember why the skipper wants crew. So he can make safe passages by having an appropriate number of crew aboard to cook and stand watches. Inexperienced crew take many weeks of training to develop into effective watch keepers and all that training takes extra effort by the skipper. The skipper needs a good return on investment your interest in set dates and short time periods would not appeal to a legitimate skipper who has so many interested crew options. Type "yacht crew" in to google to see what I mean.

Most skippers willing to take crew on short trips probably won't have time or interest in training crew for such short periods. Thus what is gained? As a counter point it is enlightening to get out in the big blue as it's nothing like the protected waters of the Puget Sound and even if the skipper isn't a good coach or mentor then at least you know what it's like to sail multiple days consecutively and experience real ocean conditions.

I would suggest that you take an offshore sailing class that is "scheduled" for a set period of time. This is the only real way of gaining safe and effective learning time offshore when you have a shortage of time.

Even the Ha Ha requires more than 2 weeks and isn't especially flush with experienced skippers.

Good people like John & Amanda Neil have provided training to countless successful now world cruisers over the past 20+ years look them up.
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Old 03-07-2008
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this is an excellent post -- I am in a similar position, though don't own my own boat yet. I'm coming up to a break in my career, which affords me the flexibility to take some time off - I do plan on taking some courses in the early spring - but are there any specific skills that would be helpful in 'winning' a crew position on such trips? Or is networking my best bet?

Also when positions are expense sharing, what does that entail food/provisions, or everything including docking maintenance repairs... (or does that vary)
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Old 03-07-2008
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I have crewed on a few deliveries and the boat owner paid for everything...then I have also crewed on trips that were expense shared ...that usually meant "food, drink, anything other than boat expenses"...the captain paid for any maintenance, fuel, dockage, or emergency services such a towing or repairs to boat.

Usually the boat is responsible for providing crew with life boat and other safety needs, but often the PFD must be your own. I also always take my own tether as well as a small hand held compass and shackle knife.
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Old 03-07-2008
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Barold-

Getting an STCW 95 certification, as well as CPR, First Aid, and other useful skill certifications will definitely help. Being skilled at navigation, diesel repair and maintenance, electrical system troubleshooting never hurt either.

A good captain or owner will provide the food/provisions and pay for the customs entry/exit fees for his crew, particularly if the crew isn't being paid and has to pay their airfare to the boat and home again. A bad one will expect his crew to work for free and pay for their food and customs fees. The captain or owner should be paying for any costs of maintenance and repairs generally.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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