I am interested in sailing with others to Bermuda and on to St. Martin in early November. Do you know how I can find out who, from where, and when boats will be leaving?
Mark Matthews responds:
Thanks for the question. When you say youíre interested in sailing with others to Bermuda and then to St. Martin in November, Iím guessing that you want to crew on someone elseís boat rather than say buddy-boat down island with other boats.
If so, there are a couple of different ways to go about getting hooked up with crewing opportunities. Before you get started, try to appreciate the arrangement from the boat owner or the skipper's perspective. If you have considerable offshore experience, are handy with tools, willing to prepare the boat, wash your dishes, and are something of a neat person, and can cook underway, you're a prime candidate for crew on a voyage south. Figure out what kind of contribution you think youíll be able to make to the crew, and emphasize a willingness to learn or take on other duties. Generally speaking, the more time you can spend with a boat before hand, the more youíll know that boat and its systems. Also, that will give you the chance to back out of the deal if the boat looks dicey or the owner is a descendent of Captain Bligh.
So how do you start the search? Assuming youíre not in Kansas, you can start at your local marina or marinas. Walk the docks, look around, talk to people. Anyone getting ready for a sail south is likely to be very busy at this point, and now is a good time to get in and help out. Check out local boatyards. Many marinas and some chanderlies have bulletin boards where you can post your qualifications and what you are looking for in a ride south. And talk with charter companies to see if they can link you up with skippers that may be delivering some of their fleet for the coming season. Even if those skippers don't have a spot for you, they may know of someone else that needs crew.
Finally, you may also have luck right here at SailNet. Iíd encourage you to take a look at our Message Boards where you may just be able to find someone who knows of someone who is looking for crew. You can also sign up for any number of our e-mail discussion lists. These are organized loosely by boat typeóso if youíre partial to one type of boat over another, that could help.
In any event, hereís hoping this proves useful.
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