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Work and Travel Abroad as Sailboat Crew

A rewarding way to travel the world

Crewing a sailboat to travel abroadTry your hand as sailboat crew if you are looking for another way to travel and meet some very unique people. Sailing the seas is another way to gain passage to another country on your journey or to join into a niche lifestyle that allows for world travel for years to come.

You can hop onto a sailboat and learn to travel like Magellan and Cook. You visit islands that are untouched by tourists. It can be a lot of work to crew on a sailboat, but very rewarding in the end.

How to get working onboard

To get a job as sailboat crew the most important trait you must possess is the right attitude. Consider that when you're out on the water, the captain must be able to trust his crew and understand you. He must be able to get a feel for how you handle yourself in a variety of situations. He must also know that you are trustworthy.

With little or no experience it is best to contact captains in person. You can meet the captains by putting yourself in a major sailboat port cities at the right time of year, like South Florida and the Caribbean, Sydney Australia, or any of the sailboat hubs in the Mediterranean. Walk the sailboat docks and ask the captains if they need any extra crew for a passage or two. Talk to them about sailing and ask any questions you have. If they aren't looking for immediate crew, perhaps they know of a boat that is.

What are captains looking for in their Sailboat Crew?

Be excited about crewing on their sailboat. Tell them why you want to travel by sailboat and what your intentions are. Are you looking to become a live aboard on your own sailboat or just looking for a passage to Europe? Do you want to learn all about navigation or some other aspect of sailboats?

What experiences can you offer the boat that might not be directly related to sailing? Cooking, fishing, cleaning and even sewing skills are very useful while living onboard a sailboat. Even if you are good with engines or meteorology, there are lots of skills that are useful to a sailboat.

Sailboat captains want to see that you are interested in the lifestyle that they hold dear. To meet captains in a more candid setting, find a local bar or cafe that sailboat crew visit and meet a few people who are there to see what is shaking. Remember too, that most captains love to chat and always have stories about past journeys.

When to seek a sailboat

If you choose to walk the docks, you will have to find out what time of year sailboats are in certain areas by doing some simple research. For example, we know that many sailboats spend North American Winters in Florida and the Caribbean, so that would be a good time to be there.

Around April and May many of those boats sail to different climates for the North American summer, such as Canada, the Mediterranean Sea and Australia or the South Pacific. Because traveling by Sailboat is a much more relaxed pace of travel you can expect them to plan their leaving for a major passage weeks in advance. That means sailboats will be seeking crew for weeks before the passage.

And if you don't live near sailboat communities?

Other than walking the docks, you can also get onto those sailboats through the web. Of the many web sites that offer crewing for sailboats some are great and some are not. Just be sure to do your research with a trusted online forum such as Cruiser Log.

Find A Crew - A crewing website for finding paid and volunteer work on boats
Cruiser Log - An online community forum for contacting captains around the world

Crewmember rigging the sailsWhat about money for sailboat crew?

If you have never crewed a sailboat before, then you probably won't be paid much, if anything. This is simply because you don't have experience so take this time to learn about sailing. If you want to make a few bucks as sailboat crew member, then you may have to work a passage or two for free to gain the experience. After you have proven your worth to a few captains, then you are considered a valuable crew member and they may be willing to pay.

Another option is to consider going to seaman school. There they will teach you about the basics of sailing. When you finish they may offer resources to get hired as you now have basic experience. Seaman's School is also a good idea if you are considering sailing as a potential career decision.

For your first trip onboard you may be asked to pay a small fee to assist someone in a passage. What you can expect to pay for are things like your flights, visas, food, and drinks. Expenses onboard may come to anywhere from $5 to $15 a day.

What you should not pay for are expenses incurred by the boat such as fuel, insurance, dockage, repairs and other costs to run the boat. This is the captains responsibility and if you are paying for this then things get into a murky area. At that point you are crossing the line between a paying passenger instead of a crew member. There are some unscrupulous captains out there looking for overly anxious "crew" to help them pay for their lifestyle. They will often ask more like $35 - $90 a day.

Generally you will be fine if you go through a reliable source for finding sailboat crew. As well, be sure to meet your future captain and learn about their experience. Most importantly, you want to know that you will be in good hands as you sail around the world.

Contact Us - If you are a sailboat owner or captain looking for crew, please contact us about listing your opportunity here.

Mike In AlaskaAbout the Author
Mike has been working and traveling abroad since 2005. Recent trips include 12 months in Australia, a month in China and another in Europe followed by a six week USA road trip. Mike isn't rich, just resourceful in finding work abroad. In additon to providing free information on working abroad, and travel photography for sale online, Mike is also available for speaking engagements on the benefits of world travel.

The world is too amazing not to share.


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