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  #31  
Old 07-21-2007
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Originally Posted by danjarch View Post
Don't crew for these guys, they don't maintain their boats for crap. One of them went down a few years back in a hurricane, lost the entire crew. As far as crewing opportunities go look up crew seekers, crew finders, post on all the different sailing forums, and the way I got my first job on a boat, look in the back of all the sailing and boat magazines you find. As far as avoiding the captain bly's out there, the yachty the boat the pickier the captains. Look for either a working vessel, like Passenger carrying tall ships, charter boats, and such. These are going to be more likely to pay you something any way, you might be able to hang out in the carib, just working as a mate for room, board and tips. When you want to go some place new, look for a decent boat that isn't to shiny, a couple of scratches here and there tell you the boat is a moving boat and not a shrine to the sea gods.

I'm going to list the next in increasing order of opportunity to avoid sailing with an ass.
1. Good. If you find a trip that starts out with a couple of short trips before a long one, ie.. a couple hops up the eastern seaboard before crossing the Atlantic.
2. Better. If you find a trip that starts with about a week of yard/refit. If some is prone to blow his top, or is overly picky with the help so to speak, it will show up in yard alot faster then on the water. Plus you can leave at the end of the day, you don't have to wait till the trip is over.
3. Best. A combination of 1 and 2. This way you get to see their temperament and get to see their seamanship before your to far out to hop off the boat.

A couple of things to remember. Working vessels pay but rarely go far from their home port. They are nice to the help though. Private vessels that pay are usually owned by some picky buggers and are usually more or less manned by full time and trained crew, so unless you want to be the cabin boy, etc... Private vessels that don't pay are normally own by cruisers. They are going cruising or they couldn't get free help. They're more likely to be going some place fun, and are nicer to the help.

A good example of how to get started is of a fellow crew member I worked with. He started as a fish mate on a charter fishing boat in Key West, then came to work with us on the Schooner Liberty Clipper, also in Key West. After a couple months he met a guy with a 38' sloop going down to Cuba. the guy had single handed down to the keys but want company to cross open water. I heard from him after he had left Cuba and wound up in Mexico. I lost touch after that.
Thanks Dan, that is the kind of advice I'm looking for and something I can use. A few rules of thumb to go by may save me a lot of headaches at some point. Looking at the Windjammer website it does look a little too luxurious for me. Plus I'd rather go with long term cruisers than a bunch of vacationers. I want to learn more about sailing and being put into a position where I have responsibilities (rather than as a passenger) seems to be a much better way to do this. I've never sailed a bluewater passage before either so being able to put in one of those would be nice.
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  #32  
Old 07-21-2007
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Originally Posted by Bardo View Post
After we were married, but before we had kids, my wife went (with my blessing) on an around the world sea cruise on a "university" ship, chartered by the U of Pittsburgh. She was the reference librarian for a bunch of spoiled college kids, but she had a blast visiting a dozen countries, becoming a shellback, experiencing the sea eating great food from venezuela to Japan. When she got back she was ready to have the kiddies. Now, 10 years later, we are considering an adventure ourselves, with the kids (7 and 8). Go for it, but keep your SO involved, in touch, and invested (both monetarily and emotionally). If you are meant to be together, then it will work out fine. if not, then nows a great time to find out. Ride the canal boats through Europe and UK. Slow going but fun! Sail as crew on a tall ship for awhile.
Yes Bardo, so you can understand that being apart doesn't necessarily spell the end of a relationship. The funny thing is that my girlfriend doesn't want to go now (really only because of the dog and her job which she really likes) but she is lukewarm towards the prospect of going on a sabbatical cruise once the kids are nearing 10 and the dog has died. That seems to be a better response than most people here seem to get when they raise the subject of cruising to their spouses / wives!!!
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  #33  
Old 07-21-2007
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Originally Posted by chris_gee View Post
If you ask on a sailing forum what you should do with a year out the result is a bit predictable.
I leave out the question of the partner - you may be soulmates but not cellmates. However you may wish to adopt strategies that help sustain the relationship eg ph mail visits.
$40,000 doesn't cover too much of buying a boat besides it is a hassle for a year setting it up etc. You saved the money so why not have a year out as OE as many do. You are obviously prudent, so try it, rather than bust out later after the kids in a mid-life crisis.
Crew on various boats on passage. If you are in Europe you could start with the Europe to caribbean run then do the cross pacific that will take a year. The benefit is that it breaks into short stages each at a cruising stagepoint where you can swap boats if you wish, so you are not committed to one year one boat.
If you want to take a month out to backpack through x or whatever takes your fancy you can. Essentially you can choose what you like and so don't have to plan the year out.
If you plan something like that I would look at going from Europe in about Oct this year. That is the usual time. Or go on the Baja rally to mexico around the same time leaving across the Pacific in about March finishing in Australia NZ in Oct Nov. It depends where you want to go, and the traditional times. You could go Europe to Australia in that time. Equally you could bail out in the Canaries should you not like it. www.cruiser.co.za has a hitchhikers guide.
You could expect to pay your share of expenses which is fair enough, and maybe some for your partner to join you at some point.
As to compatibility yes it is an issue. A difficult owner can be unpleasant to live with or vv. But in a way it is like flatting and you can escape after a week or two if it is too bad. If you can escape ashore for breaks that would help you and them survive. At sea split watches decrease contact.
Besides learning to live in uncomfortable cramped conditions with a snoring, farting, ill-tempered captain, who counts the chocolate biscuits, while you spend romantic star-crossed nights alone on watch may make you appreciate your partner more.
Chris thank you for putting my question back on topic. My question was not IF I should go and I wasn't really asking for the input of strangers on the health of my relationship (althought I knew it was coming). I only was looking for suggestions on WHAT to do. I hadn't thought of starting in Europe (not sure why) but that is also a good idea. How hard is it to change boats? If I wind up on a boat with a real nutcase and want to switch boats at the next port, will I have to languish there for a month waiting for someone else to come along or should I be able to find something pretty quickly (assuming I'm not a nutcase as well). I only have 1 year (and really 9 months if you take out my visits) so I don't want to spend a lot of this sitting in a port waiting for a ride.

Also, if I want to crew what kind of questions do I want to ask the potential captain before signing on? I suppose about his experience, the boat, safety equipment, a clear and truthful response regarding expenses... Anything else?

Finally, I will start in early May of 2008. Is that too late to catch boats crossing the Atlantic from Europe to the U.S.?

Thanks
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  #34  
Old 07-21-2007
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IIRC, customs may become an issue if you decide to leave a boat at a foreign port, and don't have an immediate ride out of there. Many countries frown upon sailors jumping ship in their ports, which is why many countries have a requirement that you have transport out or the money to cover said transport.

Crewing is a great way to do this, while saving the bulk of your mad money to spend on you and your better half... and if she's letting you do this with her consent—she's definitely the better half.

Changing ships can be a pain, mostly because of the customs issues I mentioned previously, and because it disrupts your "life". It is like moving on a micro scale....and moving is always a RPITA. It would be better to stick with one boat, but I can understand wanting to change if they are either a) stuck with incompatible captain or crew, b) heading to parts of the world you'd rather not be in.

I would highly recommend you take a look at Jimmy Cornell's Noonsite.com, and see what the customs regulations for various countries you are interested in visiting are. His site is excellent for that since it gathers most of the information in a single place, but isn't always as updated as it should be, so YMMV.
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  #35  
Old 07-21-2007
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Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice
Bring the $40.000, I will let you get experience on my boat, in Southern Europe, I will let you clean it, look at it, maintain it, and will take you sailing a lot. Some mild racing envolved from October till June.

Offer is valid for one year only, no food included, no clothing, no hotel, no bed sheets, no telephone, no car etc.
No transportation...will buy you a beer and an expresso evey now and then...and wil let you talk to my friends...well some of them....

Can also give you expereince in maintaining a racing Optimist, and in assisting young athtlete.

As for the boat we can say it is in fair condition, its not too old, slightly recent sails, needs some work on the bloody heads that keep dripping, the skipper is a happy person, eager to teach, but will not pick you up if you fall overboard.

WHEN DOCKING YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO JUMP WHEN I SAY JUMP...ask TommyT, and you must be eager to ACT AS HUMAN FENDER WHEN DOCKING ON SLIPS NAROWER THAN MY BOAT.

Please send a photo of girlfriend.
Lose the dog....got my own....do you have an Ipod?? I want one...please bring BLUE MOUNTAIN cofee

Thanks

Last edited by Giulietta; 07-21-2007 at 10:28 AM.
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  #36  
Old 07-21-2007
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The weather/ wind patterns tend to determine cruising sailing routes.
Roughly in May boats leave the Caribbean going to the med, and vv in around November.
You can swap because they cluster at staging points like the Canaries and because it is quite common for crew even owners to want to abandon ship after finding they get sea sick etc. They cluster because they all leave at much the same time eg 100 odd boats on the Atlantic Cruising rally plus all the others who are not participating.
Customs isn't a problem provided you have the means to leave, like cash or a credit card if not another boat.
If the med caribbean circuit doesn't appeal then May is the start of the Island cruising scene from New Zealand. Often Tonga Fiji Vanuatu New Caledonia, then joining up with the lot doing the Australian east coast, and moving through New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand etc then around Dec January either going Red Sea or round South Africa and up to the Caribbean.
Getting on a first leg of a cruise is harder as often friends are available for that. However if you are available longer term like months that is easier as it saves the captain hassles of crew replacement.
Most will prefer some blue water experience first, and some knowledge base. After all you will be expected to stand watch etc.
Generally delivery captains will have satisfied themselves as to the safety of the boat, as will most experienced cruisers. Many older people have big expensive boats with all the gear particularly if longer term cruisers but still need crew. Older cheaper smaller boats with younger or less experienced people on a tight budget may need a closer look but those are generalisations.
Picking a suitable boat is a bit like picking flatmates. Young people wanting to party may be your thing or not. Generally ads and questions will be some guide. Ideally you would meet them and do a shakedown cruise but that may not be possible at first. Once you are part of the scene you will tend to know more.
You are of course free to chop and change somewhat. Long passages may not suit you or become wearing after a time and you may want to do some land travelling. You can also fly to a different place and resume there rather than be confined to a fixed plan.
Many owners plan well in advance and current ads on some of the crew sites will give you an idea eg findacrew.net.
I don't know what experience you have but a short ocean passage even on a training course would be advisable before you get too fixed in your thoughts. Some people get freaked out when out of sight of land or when they get sick and can't get off for another week or two.
Essentially you can go anywhere but not in fancy hotels, so you can have fun for many months picking between places.

Last edited by chris_gee; 07-21-2007 at 12:13 PM.
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  #37  
Old 07-21-2007
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Not knowing how much experience you have, I'm going to suggest a couple of routes. The first is if you are not very experienced. The bigger the boat the more crew it takes to sail her. This is doubly true of coast guard certified passenger vessels. They have to have a certain number of crew members on every trip. Offshore trips normally require double or triple the amount of crew needed to sail the vessel. When we took the Liberty Clipper down to the keys, we hire a couple people who didn't know forward from aft, literally. We just made sure that when we needed to do any major sail handling, we would do it on watch overlap.

May, could be just a little bit late to catch a ride north, you'll just have to call around to see when all the wintering boats are heading up again. Liberty Clipper, Appledore, Harvey Gamage, HMS Bounty, and the SEA boats are a few that I know of that spend the winter in the south, but I'm sure there are plenty of others. Just before they head north, they start hiring more crew so it's easier to get on board at that time. Take some time to look at http://www.schoonerman.com/, this site lists most of the tall ships, as well as what they do.

If you want to try this route, you should make up a resume, include what experience you have but don't focus on it, tell them a little about your self and such. Send the resume to the HR department if they have one, the main office if they don't. Then call them about a week after you send the resume, make sure they got it and sweet talk the staff a bit. They're not as worried about experience as most people would believe. In fact, we usually had more trouble with the ones who had a lot of experience on twenty and thirty foot boats. Each of our head sails had more canvas then most twenty foot boat had in total. Yet these guys would try to handle the lines like they were out on the lake in a Catalina. Inch thick sheets can remove fingers if you don't handle them right. Don't take off as soon as the trip is over either. A cruiser docks his boat maybe twice a week, but working vessels dock two or three times a day, in all kinds of weather as well. same for sailing, you will learn how to sail and dock under good and bad weather a lot faster if you are going out irregardless.

The other option to get on a boat going north or to Europe is to try the crewing agencies I listed before. But if that doesn't work, head down to the American Virgins and pick up what ever jobs will keep you close to the marinas. Fish mate, deck hand on a day sailor, or even bar tending at the waterfront bars. Then tell every body you talk to what you want to do. There is always a boat that has a crew member pull a no show, or one who gets fired for some reason, or even a crew member and captain who don't get along. This last one can be a simple matter of different opinions. I knew some people who were rabid Republicans, Democrats, Christians, environmentalist or some other thing that just didn't make it easy to sail with the opposing parties.

In regards to living in really close quarters with other people, there are a couple things that you can use to determine if you up to the challenge. Did you grow up with brothers and sisters who shared rooms, or spend time in an army barrack. Its a lot like that. You need to be able to withdraw into yourself for periods of time with out being able to leave the company of others. If you get the option, pick crewing with sailors that have been at it for a long time, they will be better at disappearing into themselves and will be more attuned to the moods of their fellow crew members.
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  #38  
Old 07-21-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta View Post
Bring the $40.000, I will let you get experience on my boat, in Southern Europe, I will let you clean it, look at it, maintain it, and will take you sailing a lot. Some mild racing envolved from October till June.

Offer is valid for one year only, no food included, no clothing, no hotel, no bed sheets, no telephone, no car etc.
No transportation...will buy you a beer and an expresso evey now and then...and wil let you talk to my friends...well some of them....

Can also give you expereince in maintaining a racing Optimist, and in assisting young athtlete.

As for the boat we can say it is in fair condition, its not too old, slightly recent sails, needs some work on the bloody heads that keep dripping, the skipper is a happy person, eager to teach, but will not pick you up if you fall overboard.

WHEN DOCKING YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO JUMP WHEN I SAY JUMP...ask TommyT, and you must be eager to ACT AS HUMAN FENDER WHEN DOCKING ON SLIPS NAROWER THAN MY BOAT.

Please send a photo of girlfriend.
Lose the dog....got my own....do you have an Ipod?? I want one...please bring BLUE MOUNTAIN cofee

Thanks
Heh thanks for your generous offer I'll keep it in mind and if nothing better comes up I'll surely take you up on it...
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  #39  
Old 07-21-2007
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Dan & Chris,

Thanks a lot for your responses. This is really the kind of information I can use to help plan something. The timing is good to know...perhaps I can spend part of the time in the South Pacific and part of the time in the Carribean or something. I'll make sure I am very careful when I pick a boat to volunteer on (and I always have the Giulletta option in my backpocket!!!). Thanks for taking the time to write all that stuff out.

I do have some sailing experience. I actually own a boat, but it is a 20 foot daysailer that I sail on an inland lake. I have been skipper on a couple of flotillas and done a host of RYA classes so while I may not be able to repair a broken down diesel engine or save the day with celestial navigation when the GPS satellites fail, I definitely know forward from aft.

Regarding close quarters living...not a problem! My parents were relatively poor when I was growing up and when I was younger I had no bedroom but rather my bed was in the hallway. Then when we finally moved to a house I shared a small bedroom with my three brothers...two double bunks...we called that bedroom "the barracks".

In any event, thanks again. I'll check out those links and start trying to come up with a more defnitive plan. I'm sure I'll be back for more questions sooner or later though.
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