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  #1  
Old 05-26-2009
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circumnavigation advice

Hello All,

Let me start off by saying I'm new to posting on these forums, so bear with me. I am a 20 year old sailor with a lifetime of experience (my dad first took me sailing when I was 6 months old). Ever since I was a small boy my dream has been to circumnavigate the world. I am at a juncture in my life now where it's time to see that through. I would really like to do it on several different boats...that would give me time to stop and see the sights, maybe work in different places to make money along the way.

I have limited offshore experience, but my longest offshore stint was a trip from Annapolis to St. Maarten in the Caribbean, a trip that took 8 days on a Santa Cruz 70 custom. I have also done several trips from Annapolis to Newport, and back.

I have 20 years of experience sailing the Chesapeake Bay, and about 10 years of racing experience; aboard both dinghies and keelboats. I have been teaching dinghy sailing for going on 8 summers now and I am also a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with 2 years in a municipal fire department.

I post here for two reasons:

1) to see if anyone has any advice or recommendations for such a trip...What route should I plan on taking? I am leaving from the Baltimore Area, on the Chesapeake Bay. Ports I should plan on visiting? Ports to avoid? Is it better to try and do the whole trip aboard several boats or aboard one for the whole thing?

2) Anybody know of anyone looking for crew for such a trip?

I guess I should also add that for the first couple of legs I would not be able to help and share costs. I mean, I would certainly be able to help with maintenance, but am not financially able to contribute for the first leg or two. I can cook pretty well, and have a great sense of humor. I don't smoke, but do occasionally drink (although I wouldnt dare drink while the boat was underway....I'll save it for while we are in port).

How feasible does something like this sound?

Thanks in advance for your help.

-Corey
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Old 05-26-2009
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I have not circumnavigated, and have no interest in doing so, however:

From a background point of view, I do not think you will have any issues. You are obviously a fairly skilled sailor. And quite candidly, I think things are easier offshore than they are near shore. If you are simply crewing with someone else, I would assume they are also skilled in storm tactics, navigation, customs, etc.

On the other side, I think the part about not sharing expenses might be a little far fetched. Simply buying food can be expensive. What about all the customs fees, crap breaking, fuel, etc? I am concerned that some might view your personal interests as wanting to see the world on someone else's dime. Everyone has to help out with watch, maintenance, etc (no matter sharing the expenses or what). The only exception to this that I can think of is an incapable crew that needs direction or help (which I am not sure you would be qualified for), someone that is of the female variety that would provide good company for a long voyage (which I assume you would not qualify for), and the United States Navy (which you would qualify for). However, be aware that their circumnavigation lasts about 4 years and there is no hopping off that boat.

My honest opinions.

- CD
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Old 05-26-2009
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CD is correct. There are few free boat rides. If you befriend an older cruising couple who wish to do a circ in stages, and who are on the physical borderline of being able to safely do so, you might be able to cruise for free.

Whether that would be of interest to you is another thing. You could also get worked hard and put away wet, if you follow me, because older sailors tend to fall into two categories in my experience: those who could use the help and don't request it, and those who can still do the work but are quite fond of taking it easy.

Perhaps with EMT experience, you could be hired crew, and earn as you cruise. Many places now demand that cash bonds and return air tickets are posted for such crew, to avoid having them become "beach bums in Paradise", the days of which are pretty well over if you don't have a job and a visa.

There's a site called Crewfinders Job Placement for Yacht Crew that seems to be oriented toward the liveried sort of superyacht serving staff, but I guess you would prefer a pipe berth on a 50 footer. Good luck, and try "crew wanted" sections of the various "civilian" sailing sites. One thing you could do right now is to obtain competency credits in the form of the U.S. "six pack" or a 25 ton master's licence or an RYA Yachtmaster/Oceanmaster. You could become crew or even a delivery skipper with those.
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What's a reasonable fee to pay for a crew spot on a cruising boat?

I'd like to do the circumnavigation delivery by delivery...e.g. sail from Annapolis to England on a Hans Christian, and from England to the Med on a Swan, etc...

What are the "going rates" for this sort of thing? Any ideas on what route to take?

Thanks again for all your help.
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Go to crew wanted. Put a post there and see if you can get any takers. At best, you might be able to get a free ride on a delivery. If you get in good with a delivery captain, maybe you cqan even start getting paid. But it will take an aligning of the stars and moons to circum doing that.

Best route? The one that consistently takes you East or West. Make sure you take enough money for a plane ride home in case you get stranded.

- CD
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Old 05-27-2009
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Corey,

Great post, welcome!

I think your basic plan is terrific. I do not have your experience on a boat, but I am experienced at travel, and I can tell you that you'll have an easier time outside the United States than in it if you just want to move from place to place and make your way. Inside the United States everyone drives their own car so hitch hiking and things of that nature are frowned upon these days, but outside the U.S. especially in places like Central America that's just how you get around, very few people own their own vehicles, that is a luxury, so getting from place to place is a lot easier without your own car. You can also pitch a tent just about anywhere and all the rest.

Your basic strategy of making your way around on different boats is, I think, very sound. I would think that there would be some important places where you would be more likely to catch a boat and that you would essentially be moving from one hot spot to the next while at the same time enjoying the world around you and taking side trips along the way. I do not have first hand knowledge of these places, but the two entrances to the Panama canal would be an obvious example. I know that hitch hikers do much the same thing, they don't want to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere on some rural dirt road, they want to be dropped off either near a major highway or at a truck stop if they can, or at least at a popular crossroads, because that is where they are most likely to get a ride to their next destination. I bet if you were in a place like Panama you could help people move their boats through the canal until you find a boat that is heading your way, for example, it would give you the chance to prove your usefulness as crew, I understand the boats actually need your help negotiating their way through the canal. Other big destinations like that would probably be the areas in Florida where people hop off to the Bahamas, any island port, and anywhere along the milk run especially places like Papeete where a lot of long distances cruisers stop over for supplies and repairs (and probably lose crew who are sick of the ride). I'm sure there are lots of other places that you already have in mind, you probably know more about it than I do.

Having done a fair amount of travel I can tell you that you won't regret it, there is nothing like going out to see the world to make life fresh again. I have done some trips that are similar to what you are trying to do where I knew where I was going, but I didn't really know exactly how I was going to get there, but I went anyway. Those were some of my favorite trips too because half the fun is the adventure of it all. I would, of course, always recommend you have a way out in an emergency, just in case, because you don't want to end up stranded somewhere and have no way home.

The only disadvantage to your plan is that you might not get to see all of the sights that you want to see unless you are prepared to rough it. Not having your own transportation you'll be forced to catch rides and take public transportation, and in urban areas that isn't so bad because you always have youth hostels to fall back on, but out in rural areas like where many of the Mayan ruins are you could face some challenges. In some parts of the world you can't even really travel without transportation because it is too hot, too cold, too dry, and just too much trouble to do it. Some places are also just dangerous for solo travelers, especially near tourist attractions and in urban areas, and I have always tried to avoid those areas when I was traveling alone.

We all look forward to hearing about your progress, sounds like a lot of fun.

Best of luck.

Edit - I wish I had your experience.
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Old 05-27-2009
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I'd point out that ad-hoc crew is generally not paid. They often work in exchange for passage, room and board. If you're looking to get paid, then getting your STCW 95 certification and hiring on as permanent crew is far more likely to be what you're looking for.

If you go the boat-hopping ad-hoc crew route, you will generally need to pay your own way in-terms of customs fees and such. However, finding a berth on longer passages when you can't contribute to the costs is going to be much, much harder, since many of the boats are on relatively minimal budgets.
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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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Old 05-27-2009
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My wife's leaving this weekend to Eleuthra to help return a cruiser to NYC, and then locking up into Lake Ontario. Crew on this end turned out to be plentiful, so the skipper is willing to pay half her airfare and all food and drink. In return, she'll be one of two-person watches, which is good in the respect that aside from two days on Giulietta last year, this is her first real ocean passage.

"Getting paid" didn't enter into it.
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Valiente—

You should get your better half a Spot Messenger. I used one on a recent delivery of a Gemini 105 Catamaran from Annapolis to Marion, MA. It was a great way to help keep the people on shore reassured and up-to-date on our trip.
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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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Old 05-27-2009
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I second that!

Get a SPOT. It'll relieve your mind and enable you to track her progress northward....
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