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Hello, I've landed my first gig crewing from Ensenada, BC to La Paz BC. Provided I don't get sick or injured in the next few weeks, this will be a 2-3 week journey. I've researched the Captain as best I can, I feel confident in the journey and my skills and ability (well for what my experience level is). This will be my first time on an extended sail and offshore. Any tips or advice regarding this endeavor that you would recommend? I would call this stage 3 in my goal of setting sail with the family, I look forward to learning as much as possible to gain confidence in this arena and most importantly want to return to my wife and 10 y/o son (I have no doubt I will). Thanks
 

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The answer to this question used to be easy. We used to say "Take a flash-light, warm clothes and spare undies"

But now... yikes!

Interview the "captain" at length, face-to-face, for a long time prior to setting one foot on his boat.

Ask if he carries guns on board and does he carry drugs. And then work out if you are happy to be unarmed on a boat with a stoned, gun wielding captain.

Mark
 

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Lanealoha, this is a wonderful trip and you will enjoy it very much. You didn’t mention the size/make of the boat so it is hard to give you specifics so here is a few generalizations. The weather will be “cool” until you pass Cedros Island/ Turtle Bay so bring appropriate clothing. Nights will be chilly. Once pass Bahia Santa Maria/Magdalena you will be in shorts and Tshirts the rest of the way. Baja runs on $2 (Panga rides, beers, street food) so bring plenty of ones. Gringos need to show their passports in order to exchange USD$ to Pesos (Go figure.) But not to worry, everybody takes dollars (albeit you will be paying at the “tourist” exchange rate.) 2-3 weeks is more than enough time to get to la Paz. Is your skipper’s intent to sail the entire way? Or are you leaving time for a weather window? The winds tend to be close to DDW so plan on doing some gybing. The winds build during the day but die off after the mid-watch so there is plenty of bobbing around until mid morning-midday. Again, this is a great trip and I am looking forward to hearing how it was. Keep in touch.
 

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First off, good for you for building your skills and experience, and for anticipating the things that could go wrong. You have probably done this already, but ask the captain about the normal day-to-day operations and routine safety measured used during passage. Take a look at the first aid kit. Look at the boat's safety equipment. Are they sufficient for an offshore boat? Does it look like they have been serviced/restocked recently? This will give you some insight into how conscientious he or she is.

After a couple of bad experiences on other peoples' boats, I now bring my own handheld GPS, an appropriate means of communication (handheld VHF and satellite communicator for offshore), and of course my own life vest and tether. If you have a PLB, bring it.

If you get to the boat and things just don't feel right, don't be afraid to walk away. And don't feel pressured to not let the captain or other crew down. There will always be another boat. Pay attention to that little voice in the back of your head. I used to be pretty cavalier because I have confidence in my own skills, so I ignored that little voice once before a long delivery trip with a pro skipper. It was a $#!+ show from beginning to end. The boat was fine; the delivery captain was shockingly reckless. We were lucky to have lived through it.

You are asking the right questions now so you are likely to have a great experience. Enjoy the passage and let us know how it went.
 

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I would
want to know what safety / emergency equipment is on board.
want to know if he intends to do and "drills" with the crew.
want to know what the watch schedule is
want to know what sort of meals are provided and if you have to cook
want to know if drinking is allowed and what sort of drinks
want to know the experience level of the rest of the crew and of course the captain
want to know if a float plan will be filed with the USCG
want to know what sort of communication equipment is on board
want to know what sort of medical supplies are on board
want to know if the captain has done the passage before
want to see the maintenance log
want to know what sort of spares and tools are aboard
want to know when the rigging was inspected and by whom
 

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Some additional thoughts to those already made.

You say you vetting the Captain. Just to test your resolve, there can only be one Captain. You have to be confident enough to allow them to make all the calls.

Test various sea sickness meds now, at home. Even if you've never been sea sick, you say you've not made a trip like this and it's not the time to experiment with side effects. Learn what you tolerate best now.

Always present a positive attitude aboard and be willing to do whatever is needed.

Understand the watch schedule and assess whether you think you'll easily accommodate it. Be dressed and ready to take your watch, at least 5 mins before you're scheduled. That usually means awakening at least 15 mins prior, longer if you're a slow riser.

Bring your own snacks and extras if other crew members take a liking. You don't want to be a stingy mate. Had a buddy who could not be on watch with peanut butter and bread, so he always brought his own and plenty for others.

I would never be on passage on another's vessel, without my own means to communicate home or call for help, if necessary. These days that can be a variety of things, starting with a plb, but comm devices such as: InReach, Spot or a Sat phone are pretty common. Some of these can be rented.

Have fun. Let us know how it goes.
 

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I find this thread enthralling.
Not very many of these suggestions, not to say any are bad, were a possibility when I began sailing on other peoples' boats as crew and very few were available to prospective crew when I was skippering. And yet, for the most part, all went well.
The idea of bringing delights onboard and not sharing them is obviously not in the best interests of harmony aboard, so I usually ask each crew member for a list of their particular likes and buy plenty for all when provisioning. I have never asked a crew member to pay for anything themselves, including liquor, as they are helping me do the job of moving the boat. I kinda consider it as their pay. I don't understand captains who do otherwise and would never have sailed with one who did ask me to pay my way. A good crew member should surely be worth the provisions he/she consumes.
As a skipper, too many questions from an inexperienced prospective crew member is a real turn off. If it hasn't all been settled before they arrive aboard with their seabag, then they are probably not going to enjoy sailing with me. Of course, it is a different world today, but as captain I've met and dealt with my fair share of crazies over the years, and though the incident sometimes required defending myself (once being woken from sleep at sea by a nutjob wielding a winch handle), none has caused any serious physical damage to either party.
Before electronic navigation, there were probably many fewer inexperienced skippers, and those seeking crew were probably better seamen in general, so it was easier to trust them at face value. Many had tempers and weren't particularly nice people, but I always felt safe with them in command, even when running the bar of the Columbia River, in an onshore gale.
As so many above have said, I guess it really comes down to your gut feeling. Go with that, after all is said and done.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Great! Thank you. The boat is a 38' sloop, not sure of the make but I'll find out. The Captain and his wife are from WA state and have done this trip before. From what I've seen on his blog and from chatting with him, they previously sailed a 29' boat to Panama from WA, sold it then continued overland through South America. He left WA on Sept. 16, and is currently in Ensenada. He's paying for all food, en-route as well as on Land, he'll buy 2 beer maximum then I'm on my own, as well as flying me home after the journey. I'm really interested in learning as much as possible so I view this opportunity to focus and only have 2 beers or none, not a big deal. I've travelled extensively in Baja over land and have been to La Paz several times on my way to surf around the East Cape. He has a SPOT, but I will see if I can borrow my friends 'in-reach' (I believe thats what it is called) to have my own personal communication, I discussed that with the wife already.

Thanks for the insight and keep it coming.
 

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The idea of bringing delights onboard and not sharing them is obviously not in the best interests of harmony aboard, so I usually ask each crew member for a list of their particular likes and buy plenty for all when provisioning.
CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That little rustling of foil wrappers in the dark hours when everyone is meant to be asleep.

MICE?

No, no no! Mark and his secret choccie stash :)

So what I do is assess the length of voyage and designate a minimum spend on naughty stuff for each crew and then buy it at the supermarket when I can supervise that they have actually spent the money on choccies...

These are not to be shared but for that person when they are alone on deck on watch or in their bunks sounding like a mouse.

one of the delights of a long night watch is to know I have 6 hours and 6 squares of chocolate. Do I en-gob-erate them all at once? Do I just try to have 5 tonight so I have 7 tomorrow?

I don't want my chocolate ration to be rationed. I want my own. Selfish? I don't care :)

To make sure no one wants mine I make sure everyone buys enough personal treats before we leave. We have weeks at sea before us... I just want something thats mine, personal, not community, something that proves to me I still have an identity. :)


Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Cadbruys.................................. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
 

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Could Mark of Sea Life be the Gollum of the seas and choccie his precious?
 

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CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That little rustling of foil wrappers in the dark hours when everyone is meant to be asleep.

MICE?

No, no no! Mark and his secret choccie stash :)

So what I do is assess the length of voyage and designate a minimum spend on naughty stuff for each crew and then buy it at the supermarket when I can supervise that they have actually spent the money on choccies...

These are not to be shared but for that person when they are alone on deck on watch or in their bunks sounding like a mouse.

one of the delights of a long night watch is to know I have 6 hours and 6 squares of chocolate. Do I en-gob-erate them all at once? Do I just try to have 5 tonight so I have 7 tomorrow?

I don't want my chocolate ration to be rationed. I want my own. Selfish? I don't care :)

To make sure no one wants mine I make sure everyone buys enough personal treats before we leave. We have weeks at sea before us... I just want something thats mine, personal, not community, something that proves to me I still have an identity. :)


Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Cadbruys.................................. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

You and I would have dueling chocolate stashes...I read this with a hearty laugh
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If I double bag, will bagels and tortillas last a bit or will they get soggy ,quickly, no matter what? Chocolate stash will be huge, the question will be if I have the control to NOT make it my primary food source?
 

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As part of vetting potential crew I include
Medical history , current meds, allergies
Food likes/dislikes allergies
Then the usual about sailing, mechanical, electrical, electronics, comm, medical experience and training.
If crewing I believe you can tell a lot by how you are vetted. I’ve refused crewing if I thought the captain was too cavalier in vetting me.
Given I’ve needed to leave people on the dock when upon arrival what they presented when applying wasn’t congruent to my impression when they arrived be brutally honest in your interactions with the captain. I’ve taken to preferering a brief daysail with a newbie before signing them on. Once I took a prospective crew out in 2-3m with low to mid twenties. Fortunately he was honest. He told me he had sailed from Florida to Maine and had been in weather. When he understood that the conditions of the daysail could be expected on passage he demurred. I watched him. He was slow and clearly paralyzed by his fear so I wouldn’t have signed him on anyway.
Not mentioned is having knowledge of the other crew beyond the captain. I ask permission then share everyone’s contact information. I usually sail with three but like to take on a newbie as a fourth when feasible. Think it furthers the sport and have an obligation to the next generation. Still, I want my crew to be comfortable that the crew includes multiple skilled experience people which increases the safety and learning possibilities for all.
 

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There is only one captain so pick a good one.Lots of great comments. I would want to know if this is a straight shot and if not then what the stops are, and I'd want to know where the safe harbors are along the way so if weather gets bad you have a place to run to. The captain should be willing to discus those things. I found out that you can rent a Sat phone for like $100 for the month.


Correction, I had found a rental for $199/ month
 

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This thread makes me think that someone like ASA should publish a list of questions for crew to ask of the skipper when being considered for a long passage. The skippers of course would know that these questions are coming and should be prepared with good answers.

Another list could be for skippers looking for crew... really no different that being interviewed for a job.

Finally there is the "vibe" element that can't be found in check lists and answers to interview questions. You want to feel psychologically comfortable and compatible with the cap and the crew.

How do you feel about including at least one female? Assuming she is competent... what does a female add or detract from a crew doing a passage. I found having a female on board a plus and have done many passages with them.
 
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