Schedule is always an issue. I don't leave the dock without an autopilot for a trip of more than a few hours. That isn't to say we haven't lost an autopilot and had to hand steer, but I don't leave the dock knowing that is a problem.
I didn't mean to make it seem like a regular thing; those just happened to be big enough surprises that the skippers were suddenly looking for additional crew and I was able to get onboard. I clarified the article a bit.
The linked trip without the autopilot we had 5 people, a 58' race boat, downwind conditions and an absolute riot of a time: we were fighting for more time at the helm!
I'm glad the skipper decided to add some crew and skip the autopilot. Since then I've delivered several raceboats that simply don't have auto-pilots.
It is clear that both owners and crew see rallies as safety nets. What is not clear is whether that belief has any merit. I suggest it does not. The parties are fun but the reality is that there is little safety to be gained by being part of a rally. People do silly things whether they are part of a rally or not. Remember Rule 42. You can make a case for the AICW rallies but I don't think you can offshore.
Would you say that the oversight of a rally organizing body is better than nothing? Or that they lend themselves to under-preparation and mistakes? The rally docs I've read seem a lot like race docs; they have an inspection where they verify all the required gear is present which is at least something. The race preparations I've been involved in we took the safety docs seriously and did our best to comply with the spirit of the guidelines in addition to the explicit requirements. But the safety docs were a starting point not a stopping point.
This is something I feel very strongly about. If crew can't stand a solo watch why do I need them? How does putting two people together who can't stand a watch alone make anything better? In my experience it means they talk incessantly and I get called later than I would be with a solo watchstander. Not good.
I'm right with you. You don't need them. This is why deliveries aren't the best for sailors not yet confident enough to stand a solo watch offshore: the other types work better. The solo watches sections sets up the reader to look at the opportunities through the lens of their ability to stand a solo watch.
I'd guess about 90% of my non-professional offshore sailing trips as crew, have come from walking the docks. A face to face and an offer from me to do work on the boat before departure, has worked the best. It's almost like hitchhiking on a boat.
" is how the internets refer to this as well. But if you don't find yourself in a location that is popular for offshore departures it seems like a very expensive (fly somewhere that is popular) or slow (talk to all the local skippers till you eventually find one heading offshore) proposition. Any suggestions for overcoming these challenges? The sailing romantic in me wants to believe that sailboat hitchhiking is a viable alternative to hours at the keyboard.
In the future we will only take old friends and Club members who have taken the Club sailing courses because pick-up crew, except for one notable exception, have proved more trouble than they are worth.
From my perspective this is disappointing to hear and I'm glad some of the other skippers here have had different experiences. On the other hand if I were a skipper who had a reliable source for willing and markedly more able crew to help out on passages I too would be hesitant to experiment with crew from other sources.
I'm not that young either at 59 but I am still trying to push my envelope of experiences, mostly coastal, but you never know. You have to be open to the possibilities.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. They reminded me of how my first experiences night sailing and offshore sailing felt and expecting those feelings will help prepare anyone following along with this thread.