I have not found any commercial schooners that like volunteers. They feel they are unreliable. You don't make much money, but you still get paid. I use the money to fund repairs/upgrades/toys for my boat.
10-22-2011 03:08 PM
I agree with Nick. I spent a few years working aboard tall ships; initially as a volunteer, then as a paid AB and finally as an officer.
It is indeed a very small, tight knit community once you break into the fraternity. I would suggest checking into the schooners that operate out of Key West as day boats. They have a busy winter season and pretty high turnover so they would be a good place to look this time of year. You won't get paid much, if anything at all. But a season on one of them will at least give you enough ammo to talk to the crews on the bigger boats about working as maintenance crew. Once you prove you're willing to work hard chipping paint in the snow it's pretty easy to step into a full time position.
Don't hold out for something with a topsail, get on any gaffer that will have you.
10-21-2011 09:28 PM
Unless a potential crew on the jetty can talk the talk+walk the walk or pay the ship the going rate as a 'trainee' it's going to difficult to find a berth on a vessel of your choice.Today the internet allows your reach to exceed your grasp but so it does for every dreamer. If I were on the dock with my duffel I'd be looking for a fidded topmast and hope it's going somewhere.One thing leads to another. It's all about the experience and since flogging/ keelhauling is quite rare nowadays what can you lose? My personal experience was along those lines and I met some very interesting boats and the men and women who sailed them. Wouldn't change a thing. It got so bad I had to come home and build my own (not so big) tall ship.
10-21-2011 07:15 PM
Thanks for the advice. I will keep searching for a full-time position on topsail ship, but in the meantime volunteering on day sailing schooners could be a lot of fun.
10-19-2011 04:03 PM
I had to start working on a smaller schooner before I was able to get on a tall ship. Once you get involved in the traditional sailing community, opportunities begin to open up. I would recommend getting on with a schooner doing day sails for a season to build experience and make connections. Then go from there. I know it is not winter sailing, but you can do it part time while holding down a land job as well. Being in Fla, you should be able to find something like that.
Like most opportunities in life timing and connections go a long way.
10-18-2011 03:19 PM
My experiences in getting aboard and meeting the crews of a few different tall ships, replicas, etc. has been at the opposite end of the spectrum. I've been very impressed with the level of order and shipshape-ness (I know, I know, not a word) of the crews, especially considering there are usually volunteers with a wide range of experience levels involved.
10-18-2011 03:14 PM
Sorry to hear about your bad experience JedNeck. Maybe a ship similar to the Lynx may be a better fit.
I found a interesting free documentary about a crew that runs a tight ship:
I've been aboard the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain...I was less than impressed. The boats were great...but...the surly, pot smoking, dirty, unshowered crews attitude showed through in the upkeep of the boats...both boats were rusty and filthy...obvious and easy maintenance was neglected. I actually put my hand in grease on the rail near the anchor winch...
I was beyond dissapointed...I watched these boats sailing into Grey's harbour while I was duck hunting...I could feel the awe the natives must have the first time they saw such a sight. To see the crew so blatantly not give a crap made me sick.
I am seeking a winter sailing ship, so the Flagship Niagara and few other good looking vessels must be removed from consideration.
Ideally I hope to find a vessel where I could volunteer for awhile, and if the fit is right, work as a paid crew member in an apprentice type situation. I have some basic inland sailing experience, but I would come aboard as a hard working beginner willing to learn.
The ASTA website provides a great listing of hundreds of tall ship member vessels. Yet I do not have the personal experience to interpret the detail into meaningful information that will help me choose the right ship. i.e. Wood or steel hull? Small or large tonnage? More sails or fewer sails?
I like the idea of a topsail ship. I have intermediate experience with indoor rock climbing, so topsails might be alot of fun. I would also bring experience in carpentry and a love of surfing.
I want to become a competent and versatile sailor, so I may be looking for a more technically rigged ship. A fast sailer would be a definite plus.
Thanks for all the info and advice.
10-16-2011 06:35 PM
Are you looking to be a paid crew member, an apprentice, or a passenger/trainee? This has a lot to do with your experience level.
There are a handful of tall ships around that you can sail on although the number does go down significantly in the winter. If you really want to play with square sails, some boats to look at include the Picton Castle, Niagra, Europa, Tole More, etc . If a square topsail schooner is interesting, check out Pride of Baltimore, Lynx, Shenandoah, Californian, etc. If a schooner will do, there are a ton to choose from including any of the boats in the Maine Windjammer association, Zodiac, Adventuress, Roseway, Alabama, Liberty Clipper, Spirit of Mass, Harvey Gamage, etc. I would recommend looking into ASTA to get an idea of what the boats are and what they do. If you are willing to do day sailing, that also opens up a lot more possibilities but there are downsides.
There is no shortage of boats and they are not hard to get on if you show that you are a quick learner and hard worker. If you have any questions on a specific boat, one of us who used to work on these types of boat might be able to answer it.
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