Guest post by Tina
In the marinas which are typically the last stop before an ocean crossing you’ll find hopeful people running up and down the pontoons trying to find a boat that needs an extra pair of hands, and there’ll be “crew available” notes hanging at the entrance. This last minute approach to a sailing adventure might end up as a sailing nightmare. Being in a hurry and not having a lot of options makes it easy to board the first boat that accept your request. One girl I met told me she had done this; the boat was leaving in 10 minutes when she approached them, they said yes, she thought “they seem nice enough” and jumped onboard. 30 minutes out sailing she regretted being so spontaneous. The people were not mean, but you just can’t get along with everyone. Lucky for her, this was “just” a 5 day sail. When we met her in the Cape Verdes, she was looking for a boat to cross the Atlantic with. She had learned her lesson, so she was very careful and had a lot of options before she happily d ecided to trust the good vibes she felt for a Spanish catamaran.
An other way to do it is to find a boat online that is seeking crew members. This way you have a lot of options for departure date, departure harbor and you can chat with several boats before making up your mind. Some of my friends thought it was a bit crazy that I found a random boat online to cross an ocean with. But the Wright family and I had had a Skype date already and we both felt a good energy in the conversation and agreed that I could come along as crew to the Caribbean.
However, having a 30 minutes video chat vs spending weeks stuck together in a very limited area in the middle of the ocean, can show totally different personality traits. If you happen to be unlucky with your crossing company you can’t simply go for a walk or a run to clear your mind, the furthest you get is to the bow or aft deck.
Luckily for the 5 of us onboard Itchy Foot we all get along well and we do our best for the boat and its inhabitants to be happy.
Stating the obvious; as a boat accepting crew you run the same risks plus some more. Did the new crew run away from home and have their parents reported them missing? (Read: sisters crewing on a boat in Cape Verde). Well, that one might be rather rare, but you hear a lot of stories in floating marina bars. Anyway, you are inviting total strangers to stay with you in your floating home with no (legal) way to kick them out for some weeks. On the other hand, I don’t think this happens too often. People are in general good, travelers have more or less the same mind set and I think we are all doing our best to treat people well on our journey to happiness.
I think I speak for Kevin also when I say that I am so so pleased to have ended up with being a crew member at Itchy Foot. Teo, Mia and Jon are wonderful, and they made us feel like home from the very first day. We all do thank you’s and please’s and appreciate the effort of the day’s chef, which is important. It’s literally not a walk in the park to have galley duty.