Useful books include: World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell; Ocean Passages and Landfalls: Cruising Routes of the World by Rod Heikell and Andy O’Grady; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Oceans: Crewing Around the World by Alison Muir-Bennett; and Chapman Piloting & Seamanship, 64th Edition.
For information about crewing qualifications, licensing, and maritime law, contact yachting associations both national (such as Britain’s Royal Yachting Association) and local.
Race and rally organizations are also good sources of information. Try the World Cruising Club, Antigua Sailing Week, and such sequential regattas, which start where/when the prior event finished, as the Singapore Straits Regatta, the Brunei Bay Regatta Series, the China Sea Race/San Fernando Race, and the President’s Cup.
Dedicated crewing websites include Crewbay (crewbay.com), Crewlife (crew-life.com), CrewSeekers International (crewseekers.net), Cruiser Log (cruiser.co.za/crewfinder1.asp), Findacrew.net (findacrew.net), The Float Plan (floatplan.com), Offshore Passage Opportunities (sailopo.com), Sailingnetworks.com (sailingnetworks.com/boats/needed), and 7knots Sailing & Cruising Database (7knots.com).
The Crew Clause: Who Needs Whom?
Many skippers will demand that hitchhikers pay for more than just food expenses, but consider this: Does the insurance company issuing the coverage for the boat on which you’re about to sail require the owner to carry crew? Before you agree to hand over any money, consider the following responses from three major yacht insurers.
From Admiral Boat Insurance: “For a typical cruiser, we prefer the boat to be crewed by three or more, including the skipper. However, for a highly experienced two-person team, we do like to see a sailing C.V. for each individual.”
From Noble Marine Insurance: “Typically, Noble Marine would ask that there be three able-bodied, experienced adults on board for all voyages in excess of 250 nautical miles and/or 24 hours.”
From Pantaenius Insurance: “We do not dictate that a skipper has to sail with a crew.”
Many boat owners continue to take the risk of sailing shorthanded, but crew must realize that experience aside, their very presence on board is far more valuable than they may be led to believe. As a hitchhiker, are you still willing to pay a “bunk fee”?