So You Want To Crew
by Charles W Reed Jr
For the Crew
Crewing Tips: Give as
much detail of your
(if you have any) as possible. "Looking to fulfill
your dreams!" is simply not good enough to find a
crew position - offer some attributes an owner or
yacht skipper could use (cooking, engine repair,
sewing are just a few)! Do not forget contact
information, keep it current. Do not present
yourself or your abilities with any exaggeration but
do emphasize any particular abilities or talents you
have confidence in.
Some skippers shout
and use less than flattering terms when under
pressure - remember he is responsible for both your
safety and his, but it should be only a temporary
phase. Do not get insulted or let these comments go
to your head. Never the less, pay attention, ask for
guidance, re-visit the situation and/or seek
Warning: There may be
the one or two skippers that try to treat you like a
dog, always barking orders and never satisfied. If
you run in to one; bail out and bail quick. They are
rare but they are out there.
Needless to say,
privacy on any yacht is at a premium and in the
tropics, nudity is not uncommon, this applies to
both sexes and can be troublesome if not fully
confronted. If you've got any hang-ups about either,
ask and clear the air. Speaking of sex, make sure
your own morals, ethics and demeanor are consistent
with the skipper and crew.
Never have a rigid
time schedule: the ways of the sea are not timely as
weather, a great anchorage, beach bar, breakdowns
and repairs, etc. can eat into schedules. Trying to
keep a schedule usually coincides with s#*t happens.
Ladies: PLEASE watch
out for crew lists that specifically look for single
women companions, seems that not all sailors are
gentlemen, despite glowing terms of adventure and
modest expectations of your participation in
shipboard life! There are however some genuine ones
out there. SO, do your homework carefully.
For the Captain
Crew Wanted Tips:
Give voyage details, time span, ports you plan to
stop at, what is expected of the crew, is it a
delivery or cruise. Remember the more information
you supply the better your crew will be prepared.
Treat your crew like you would like to be treated,
also respect there privacy.
What to Bring and
What You Should Do.
PFD with whistle and
strobe light, foul weather jacket and bib-pants,
sea-boots, gloves, several caps (you'll lose one),
ski goggles (handy protection in heavy rain),
synthetic fleece vest, shirt, jacket, pants, and
quick wash/dry underwear. You may also want your own
Handheld Chartplotter and Handheld VHF Radio. All
the items can be purchased at www.clrmarine.com .
Sleeping bag, knowing
it will get foul and wet.
Large "zip-lock" bags
to keep underwear, sox, etc., dry.
Waterproof bag for
valuables (wallet, passport, etc.) and your own
ditch bag, MP3 player, reading material and journal
or Log Book. All should fit in one, soft, sea bag.
Bring a small daypack
or fanny pack for shore excursions.
packages of instant oatmeal, hot chocolate, soups
and juice crystals. S/S thermos bottle. Ginger snap
cookies & ginger candies, known for there
Personal First Kit:
any medication you may need, Sea Sick pills(we have
found Motion Ease great for this), good scissors,
tweezers and magnifying glass, hot/cold compress,
butterfly bandages, elastoplasts roll, lip balm,
skin lotion, after-shower talcum mixture, topical
Other Items: Fun
stuff to wear or do, roll of duct tape (always
needed somewhere), braided nylon twine and about 20'
- 30' of light gauge s/s wire (for securing those
little things), binoculars, watch, camera, alarm
clock, flashlight & extra batteries and antiseptic
hand soap. A small gift for the skipper and, perhaps
a few things to trade, use your imagination.
Prior to leaving
Become confident and
practice preparing One-pot meals. If you can find
it, the Two-Burner Gourmet Cook Book by Terry L
Searfoss a departed friend, is great. Also, make
sure you are in good physical shape I am not saying
use must have muscles be able to maintain for long
periods at a time. If your musical, a small
instrument is great to bring along. Guitars are big
and subject to damage ask the skipper before you
Upon Arrival at the
Including the usual
safety familiarization and with the skipper's
permission, check all the rigging possible to
familiarize yourself with it, check all pad eyes,
shackles, shackle pins, winches, blocks, sail tracks
and reefing gear - even fresh from the shipyard,
pins & bolts can be the wrong size or material,
loose or missing. Ask about practicing reefing and
headsail changes. A "shake-down" cruise in home
waters is essential.
Make a diagram of all
thru-hull fittings (where they are) and go find them
- also rudder shaft fitting and propeller shaft
fitting ie stuffing box. FIND AND KNOW WHERE ALL THE
HOLES IN THE BOAT ARE.
If possible, secure a
crew berth in the aft section or mid-section of the
boat the forepeak is very uncomfortable in a rough
sea. Find and examine all hand-holds (and other
fittings/fixtures that you may grab), especially
around the galley and in the head, to ensure they
will take your weight when being tossed about.
discuss with your bunk mate, in advance, any
personal feelings about hygiene, tidiness, privacy
that may concern you.
Report ANYTHING to
the skipper that does not feel right and GET
RESOLUTION with him, if you have any doubts
determine a course of action, in advance, for those
Never walk the deck
in shoes you wore on shore, keep deck shoes aboard
or go barefooted.
You will never have
too much money or enough credit resources. Do not
flaunt the amount or how to access your private
stash. Have you ever met a sailor who cruised under
budget or purposely missed the bargain of the
century in some foreign port?
Speaking of money -
some or most skippers ask or expect a contribution
to the food kitty and some shipboard expenses. This
may be a modest amount or completely outrageous.
Assuming you are performing "crew" functions, your
initial contribution to operating the vessel is a
foregone conclusion. Sure, you are getting a free
ride, some experience and adventure but paying more
than $30.00 US, a day for the privilege is
borderline. Whatever the arrangement, get any agreed
amounts noted and mutually signed, preferably in the
logbook before you ship off.
In addition, this
brings up the subject of liability. Are you a guest,
passenger or crew? Again, most skippers will ask you
to sign a waiver of some sort or agreement for your
participation, noting that you must have sufficient
funds to repatriate yourself from any distant port
(most countries require this to), that you have your
own health/medical insurance and that your
documentation is bullet-proof.
NOTE: Any charge
above your own food contribution, personal visas and
permits, etc., constitutes a commercial venture with
dramatic insurance and legal implications. Paying
for fuel, dockage, etc., makes you a paying guest
not crew. Ask to check the insurance policies
covering paid guests.
So, you've found a
well-equipped boat, even some toys onboard!
Nevertheless, get the use of the goodies cleared up
with the skipper before you leave. Satellite phone,
a dinghy with an outboard, some skippers believe the
use is for them only! It was once said that a
skipper would not let anyone use the electric
windlass, risking draining of the batteries ( I hope
the crew had a strong back). It is also a good idea
to discuss what, if any duties, you might be
expected to do aboard at an anchorage while the
skipper or others head for shore.
Another thing to
watch for is the skipper fond of deliveries. It is
not his boat and regardless of your arrangements
with him, any future personal or legal difficulties
usually find him walking and you may be holding the
bag. Find the person or company who is the
documented owner and go over your mutual crewing
expectations and obligations with them. A
professional approach should be welcomed by all
parties, and if not, bail out!
EVERYTHING: Your new shipmates will include
ambitions and skills they may or may not have.
Always look for the best in everybody and be
prepared for the sharing of deepest secrets, and
hearing the most outrageous lies and lives stories,
when huddled in the cockpit under starry skies.
Above all, especially
for neophytes and sailors with notoriously short
memories, remember that as romanticized as sailing
is, you WILL Find Discomfort, fear and a wanting for
land. This will be offset by finding personal
strength in challenging your surroundings,
overcoming fears and perhaps falling hopelessly in
love with the sea, its' shores and our fragile
beautiful world of water.
Remember that the
boat represents a large investment to the owner, as
crew, treat it with respect.
In all cases, any
signs of incompetence, lack of vessel preparation,
drunkenness, abuse, privacy including sex issues or
general incompatibility that make your "red lights"
go off, should prepare you to abandon the venture.
Express your concerns to the skipper but don't
hesitate to bail out if your "level of comfort" is
going to be compromised. Any serious concerns you
have now, that can't be resolved, will be compounded
in the many days, isolated at sea, despite feelings
of disappointment and possible regret you may
initially have when the vessel sails without you.
Here is a little
something to leave you with.
On an ancient wall in
China Where a brooding Buddha blinks, Deeply graven
is the message It is later than you think.
The clock of life is
wound but once And no man has the power To tell just
when the hands will stop, At late or early hour.
Now is all the time
you own, The past a golden link, Go cruising now my
brother and sister It's later than you think.
This article may be
copied and emailed as is and passed along to your
friends and crew members.
From CLR Marine LLC
we wish you luck with your adventure and hope your
Dreams Come True.
About the Author
I have spent the last
28 years as both a Firefighter and Paramedic that
had the love of adventure and
sailing in my
heart. After a recent move I decided to put that
love to use. You may contact me at CLRMarine@CLRMarine.com
or visit my website at