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So You Want To Crew    by Charles W Reed Jr

For the Crew

Crewing Tips: Give as much detail of your crewing experience (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 resolution.

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.

Personal Gear:

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.

Food: Individual packages of instant oatmeal, hot chocolate, soups and juice crystals. S/S thermos bottle. Ginger snap cookies & ginger candies, known for there anti-seasickness qualities.

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 anesthetic pads.

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 Home:

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 bring it.

Upon Arrival at the Vessel:

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.

If "hot-bunking", 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 feelings.

Additional information:

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!

Attitude is 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.

- Anonymous

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.

www.clrmarine.com

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 www.CLRMarine.com

 

San Diego California

 
 
 

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