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post #11 of 24 Old 04-05-2017
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Another way not mentioned..maybe in part..is volunteering for State owned or supported vessels. I for one was lucky enough to literally learn 'the ropes' of Pa.'s tall ship 'Niagra' when she moved from Lake Erie to Philadelphia. It was an excellent opportunity to learn the traditional skills that are somewhat missing in today's 'plastic fantastic' vessels...yes we used real hemp rope...
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post #12 of 24 Old 04-05-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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Originally Posted by Yorksailor View Post
pick-up crew, except for one notable exception, have proved more trouble than they are worth. Phil
Not to be at all rude, but perhaps that's because you expect too much from them. As I mentioned above, all pick-up crew are to me is two good eyes to keep watch and a pair of hands to steer, should it be necessary. I don't want ANYBODY except my wife and I pulling strings and things, changing course or making decisions offshore. Crew are taught to keep the wind on the same relative bearing to the sails if the wind shifts and call one of us to decide what to do. Same with ships, marks, buoys or thunderstorms.
It's not like I'm going to sleep through a radical wind speed increase or shift anyway. Heck, I wake up if the motion of the boat changes the tiniest bit.
That way they can be comfortable without worrying that things may get beyond their abilities. For us, the gem is a pick-up crew member who can cook at sea. The addition of a new, imaginative cook adds a great deal more diversity to our meals.
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post #13 of 24 Old 04-05-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

I think the crew moniker is way over rated. I'd start first with everybody as a passenger..Then crew as they show their abilities. Competent Crew another step up the ladder. Watch Stander/Keeper another leg up the totem pole.

I have very low expectations for crew, and it seems they generally work out pretty good because of this. Yes, they do need to be taught, nurtured and inspired.

Won't be letting ANY crew making mission critical decisions either. Dave made a good point in an earlier thread about not being able to teach judgement. My idea is not to put the crew in a position of judgment on anything important.

Being able to boil water and cook an egg is about as far as my expectations go on cooking. Beyond that, Heaven!
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post #14 of 24 Old 04-06-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

Interesting thread so thanks for posting.

The only blue water sail I have been on I got because I opened my mouth. The husband of a classmate of mine at a 30th high school reunion was buying a 51' First Beneteau sailboat in Scotland. I spent the whole meal talking to him about it and his plans for bringing it back to the northeast coast of the US.
While he was on the IRC race to the Caribbean I watched the race results posted by the IRC committee daily and occasionally emailed him on the boat about their progress and standing within their race division.
There came a time when he was ready to get the boat back north and he probably would have done it alone if his wife, my friend, hadn't objected. The boat was now in Tortola and our plan was to go as far as Turks & Caicos, if not farther.
The owner/skipper was a really great guy and endured many newbie phone calls from me about the plan but it did come to fruition. The two of us took the 51' Bene from Tortola to T&C which was a lesson in itself taking only 3 nights to do the 400 nm or so, a leisurely pace.

Compatibility. This is a huge thing when you are literally trapped with other people in a 100 sq. ft. floating apartment. Fortunately for us we got along relatively well I thought.

Night watches. Another huge thing. When the horizon disappears and the waves don't stop the boat does what it always does in the daytime. It moves around, sometimes uncomfortably. At night you lose the help of vision and sounds can mess with your mind. There was one point when I heard a dog bark at intermittent intervals as we were passing north of Mona Passage. It could not have been a dog bark. No land, no dogs, but could be a Haitian refugee boat somewhere. Turned out to be the metal boom made a noise like that every now and then when it backwinded against the preventer. Then there was the UFO I was sure I had seen; the eerie greenish light whipping across the sky to just over my location (while the owner was sleeping). Both times I had the presence of mind not to wake the owner but try to reason out my conflicting thoughts. The UFO turned out to be the masthead tricolor light. D'oh.
Then there was the time that a nearby bank (low depth area) forced a segment of the Gulf Stream over it, which increased the current on the surface on our approach to Turks I. The autopilot reported a significant drift northward (XTracking error) that I could not counteract by adjusting the autopilot -1 degree, -5 degree; we still sailed north of our course. It was not until I went down into the cabin to look at the huge chart the owner had on the cabin table of the Caribbean Basin that I saw the banks nearby that caused the strange northward drift. The owner did sleep through the moment I did disengage the autopilot from the char plotter which I was able to recitfy quickly.
I learned tons on that trip. I was rather sad when it seemed to end so quickly and the 2 of us were just getting into a groove. The flight home to NY on American Airlines through Miami was a rude awakening to the experience of being 2 men on a boat in the middle of an ocean (I had a flight from Providenciales to Miami with a connection to NY which I paid for).

Food almost belongs with Compatibility.
Some people can eat Spam, potato chips and velveta cheeze day in and day out. I haven't come up against a captain who does but from my coastal cruising experiences I can say that a Ramen Cup O' Noodles for dinner after a long day sailing into cold weather just does not cut it, for me (this thought garnered from a trip up from Cape May, NJ on a C&C 35' to NYC - coastal sailing, only 120 miles or so but offshore).

I think it was a good sign that the owner of the 51' First Beneteau asked me if I wanted to help him get his boat north from T&C later that summer, but it was now June and there was already some warnings of an "A" named hurricane approaching the area. I passed on the subsequent trip which he did with other friends and they did ditch out in one of the Beauforts while running from a tropical system. He later hired a delivery skipper to bring the boat up to Stamford, CT. Someone has to work to pay for the dock bills for a 51' boat. Sadly, I never got to know the owner and the boat better as he died too young shortly after David Bowie.

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.
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post #15 of 24 Old 04-06-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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Originally Posted by willyd View Post
I would have added to the "cons" for deliveries: "may involve lots of motoring"
I run numbers. I feel a fiduciary responsibility to my customers. If motoring will save them money (fuel cost v. my day rate + provisions) we motor. Mostly we sail.

I do know that some delivery skippers motor by default.

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Originally Posted by Yorksailor View Post
The other side of this post is 'how do crew perform!'
The performance of crew has greatly improved since I began ignoring certifications and focused on judgment. The biggest issue I see is crew who either don't hear or don't respond to the autopiloting beeping when it goes offline. That's huge.

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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.
Interesting. My experience is quite different. In deliveries with "pre-packs," often owners with family and friends the no-show rate is rather high.

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Not to be at all rude, but perhaps that's because you expect too much from them. As I mentioned above, all pick-up crew are to me is two good eyes to keep watch and a pair of hands to steer, should it be necessary. I don't want ANYBODY except my wife and I pulling strings and things, changing course or making decisions offshore.
I give most crew more discretion as we proceed. My approach when I'm called early in a trip is to ask what they think. If I like the answers they get more discretion. Each crew is an individual.
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post #16 of 24 Old 04-06-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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I run numbers. I feel a fiduciary responsibility to my customers. If motoring will save them money (fuel cost v. my day rate + provisions) we motor. Mostly we sail.
In the days before internet weather, we needed to get as many end of service bareboats from St Thomas to Lauderdale after the charter season ended and before the hurricane season ramped up. We motored whenever the boat speed fell below 6 knots. If we could do that, we could squeeze 3.2 deliveries in a month for 2.something months before it got a bit hairy. After all, few of us were too keen to sail a bareboat that had been beat to cr*p for 5 years, through a hurricane.
Ah, the good old days......
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post #17 of 24 Old 04-06-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
"Sailboat hitchhiking" 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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorksailor View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by CalebD View Post
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.
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post #18 of 24 Old 04-06-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
In the days before internet weather, we needed to get as many end of service bareboats from St Thomas to Lauderdale after the charter season ended and before the hurricane season ramped up. We motored whenever the boat speed fell below 6 knots. If we could do that, we could squeeze 3.2 deliveries in a month for 2.something months before it got a bit hairy. After all, few of us were too keen to sail a bareboat that had been beat to cr*p for 5 years, through a hurricane.
Ah, the good old days......
Offshore I still use the synoptic charts over weather fax that I used pre-Internet. Much better than gribs. That said I use every bit of Internet I can before departure.

From the perspective of a skipper's pocket a nice slow drifty delivery pays pretty well unless you charge by the mile or (*shudder*) fixed price.

For a day rate of $400/day, 4 crew that have to be fed and 3 kts SOG in moderate air the owner pays $6.50/mile. At 4 kts SOG $4.85/mile.

For a day rate of $400/day, 4 crew that have to be fed, 1 gph at $3/gal and 6 kts SOG under engine the owner pays $3.75/mile. At 5 kts SOG $4.50/mile.

While I would much rather sail than motor I owe it to my customers to keep their costs, including my fees, to a minimum.

There is judgment in this of course. A small period of light air associated with an approaching front may not justify motoring for a few hours. You also have to consider fuel management for charging batteries and getting into port.

As @capta notes, boat condition also plays a role in decision-making.

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post #19 of 24 Old 04-06-2017
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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1)Would you say that the oversight of a rally organizing body is better than nothing?

2) Any suggestions for overcoming these challenges? The sailing romantic in me wants to believe that sailboat hitchhik ing is a viable alternative to hours at the keyboard.
1) The very last thing I'd want when beginning a 2000 mile crossing, is upwards of a 100 boats setting out at the same time, on about the same course and headed for the same place as I am, mostly being driven by amateurs who are too afraid to make the crossing on their own. That's exactly the opposite of safe sailing to me.
I have asked for a price to do the partying on both ends, but NOBODY is coming aboard my boat telling me what I must have or do to cross an ocean. If I don't have whatever or haven't done whatever before I've gotten to the rally start (especially in the Canary Islands) then I don't need whatever or want whatever.
2) Land transportation is your problem. However, you might wish to open your mind up to the possibility that flying isn't the only way to get where you want to go, on dry land.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #20 of 24 Old 04-06-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: 7 Ways to get Offshore Sailing Experience as Crew

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The very last thing I'd want when beginning a 2000 mile crossing, is upwards of a 100 boats setting out at the same time, on about the same course and headed for the same place as I am, mostly being driven by amateurs who are too afraid to make the crossing on their own. That's exactly the opposite of safe sailing to me.
Very well put. Mind if I quote you in the article?
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