Ever daydreamed about being part of a closely knit team, smoothly guiding a yacht to it’s destination on the open waters? Pulling in at exotic ports and seeing new countries? Maybe even getting paid handsomely for your efforts?
Well, it’s probably a lot more attainable than you think. Sailing crews are in demand, and you can gain the necessary skills in just a few days of training.
Read on for our overview of your crewing options.
There are a few different crewing opportunities, so get yourself clear on precisely what you want out of the experience first.
Is this entirely a leisure pursuit, or are you looking to land a professional position? Do you want to work full-time on the boat for a stretch, or is it something you’re looking to do at weekends?
Here’s a roundup of a few popular crewing options.
There are plenty of sailing holidays where you’ll be expected to pay for your experience, rather than be paid. They often do a good job of training you up, although they may not cover everything you’d find in an RYA course.
You’ll be thrown in to the mix with other eager sailors, who are usually a mix of singletons and couples from all ages; friendly and eager to learn the ropes – literally!
There are always plenty of boat owners looking for extra hands on deck from time to time.
There are various job boards where people advertise for crew members. Many of them need people part time, for example at weekends, or a couple of times a month. It’s quite a casual setup, and pay (if any!) will need to be negotiated. Some won’t offer compensation, but will accept crew with limited experience and offer you the chance to learn onboard. You can also find these kinds of opportunities at your local yachting club.
Pay attention to what boat you’ll be required to crew, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. As with all casual arrangements, it pays to know exactly what’s required of you – this is especially true when crewing, since you’ll be in close quarters with your crew mates and captain.
Usually you’ll need some at least some previous experience, and although positions such as cook and general deck hands on motor boats obviously don’t require direct sailing competence, the more time you’ve put in on a boat, the better.
What is professional crewing on luxury yachts like? Well, usually somebody of significant means will charter a yacht and hire a captain and crew to make it happen. You’ll be expected to provide a high level of service for however long the trip lasts, keeping a smile on your face through whatever demands the guests make of you.
Good crews are in demand, so if you manage to find your way onto one, expect to be asked to work for large chunks of the year.
These are often full-time positions, and there’s decent competition for them. Pay can be very good, and although the job is fairly intensive, it’s always an adventure and you may get to see several countries in one trip.
The easiest way to get up to speed is to take an intensive course offered by the RYA. If you’re a sailing beginner, The RYA Competent Crew course is the one to opt for. It’s a five day course designed to cover a range of essential skills that you’ll need onboard – you’ll learn all the practicalities of sailing, from rope handling, steering, weather prediction and all the on-board daily duties.
Joining a sailing crew can be an amazing experience, and it doesn’t take long to gain the necessary skills. Some people do it for a few months and come away with the experience of a lifetime, and others make a career out of it that pays well and allows them to see the world.
If it’s something that takes your fancy… well, you only live once. Check out our competent crew courses to take your first steps toward your position as a fully-fledged crew member on the open seas.
Sailing a boat calls for quick action. A blending of feeling with the wind and water as well as with the heart of the ship itself. Sailing teaches courage.
George Matthew Adams
“It isn’t that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.” – Sir Francis Drake