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Old 03-13-2007, 02:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JeanneP View Post
This is one of my hobby horses. It irritates me to read of cruising yachts behaving as if they're doing you a favor by asking you to pay $25, $30, or much more, per day to work on a sailing yacht. Most of them call it "sharing expenses" but in my opinion, at that rate it is taking on working crew for profit.

One fellow thinks that 30 pounds sterling is a fair "sharing" covering "food on board, fuel, marina expenses and the running costs of the boat." For two people, that's over USD $38,000 per year! That's more than we ever spent in a year to live on our boat, and we didn't have to share our space with anyone.

Moreover, in my opinion marina expenses and running costs of the boat are the owner's expenses unless the crew stands up on their hind legs and DEMANDS to go into a marina. Food and any per-person fees assessed by the clearning offices are my idea of fair expenses. Anything associated with the running/berthing of the boat would be the owner's expense whether there were any crew aboard or not. Berthing is charged by the size of the boat, not how many people are on board, fuel costs the same. And wear and tear of the boat? Again, those are the responsibilities of the owner.

When we arrived in Pago Pago, American Samoa there was a large sailing yacht there with several young fellows from Europe aboard. They were "paying crew" and although I don't remember how much each person paid, I remember thinking that they were seriously overcharged. Worse, they said they felt that they did more than their share of the work and the food on the boat was terrible, the owner was terribly cheap feeding them mostly beans and rice. Disgraceful is how I felt about it, and asked the fellows why they didn't just get off the boat and leave - they said they had paid in advance and wouldn't get anything back so they figured to make the most of the bad deal they had. I don't think that there was any legal recourse for them - the fellows were German, the boat was non-EU flagged and far from its home port. Not much they could really do except what they were doing. Although this was the worst example, I've heard of similar situations.

One large, old wooden schooner would come into port announcing that his was a "training vessel." Turned out that "training vessel" was his excuse to charge the crew on the boat. The kids who paid to sail on the boat thought that they were getting a good deal. In one way they were - the owners were nice people, and they did get some good experience in voyaging. However, the owners of this huge schooner could never have managed this boat without two or three crew, and they had found a great way of getting that crew and making money as well!

How can anybody justify charging USD $25, $30, or more per day? I look forward to hearing the arguments.
I agree. However there are people out there that have been convinced this is the norm. Thanks for your posting.

In addition to what you have said boat owners can't sail their vessels safely without crew. I note that in addition the paying crew usually do the midnight shift. I have never found a boat or crew person that does not do the midnight shift, or come across an owner doing the night shift with paying crew. If you are free on board then it's o'k.

When I come across paying crew I tell them this story,

Thats like going to your 24 hr corner grocery store and applying for a job, saying but I'm different to everybody else because I have a deal that you cann't refuse and puts me ahead in the queue.

Here is the deal, - I work for nothing and whats more I provide lunch for 8 people and there is more, wait for it, I'll even come in at midnight and man the coffee room on the night shift for 3 hours and attend to the staffs coffee whims.

Usually at the end they look at me and say I have never thought of it that way. Your right.

If you are stupid enough to pay more than $12 a day then insist on can food, Pasta, noodles and rice are off the menu.

At $ 30 a day you should be eating fillet steak and lobster with a bottle of wine every day.

What do you reckon about your same gripe and it's a delivery. Or should I not ask!!!! {smile}

Or they say as well I will be teaching you how to sail. {usually I find how not to sail.}

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Old 03-13-2007, 06:57 AM   #16
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It sure is a discussion topic.

30 years back when racing was not as common as today, most of the people you raced with were pals.

Most skippers really stretched themselves to get a yacht, and most relied on the team effort not just out on the water, but on land also. We never had any crew who were not prepared to take a week out once a year to haul the yacht out, and prep and antifoul her - it was thier way of contributing towards the sport.

I've mentioned already that a team kitty to cover the winch handles the crew liked to throw over the side on a regular basis was pretty standard........but the important issue was all sides knew of the 'understanding' on cost sharing, and it was all entirely acceptable.

That is still basically my view today. Although now in cruiser mode we don't expect pals to 'pay' us, but they do chip in towards food costs, often shout the booze when in a bar, and have been known to contribute to more expensive marina berths which they want us to park up in.......

But if another ckipper did charge his guests $30 a day, and provided the guest crew know this in advance, and find it acceptable, then apart from the legal issues (and its a real shame in todays world we seem to have so many of those) then whats the problem? It's definitely cheaper that the crew chartering a skippered yacht and paying possibly $100 per day!! Horses for courses, all consenting adults and all that, IMHO apply on this subject.

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Old 03-13-2007, 04:39 PM   #17
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I guess there are two camps of paying crew.

1] No experience looking for some - then you are acting as a training vessel. I guess I don't have a big issue with this class of paying crew as long as you are really training them. A LA Mahina which does passage training all over the world. Under those conditions I don't see a real issue.

2] A skipper looking for working crew [with experience] to pay there way to help him move the boat. Don't get this at all. If I or any of my friends were to crew for someone on a delivery I would expect my expenses to be covered not the other way around. Can not see any justification for a crew member to pay for the privilege of working the boat.

Like Swagman when we started racing back when the costs of getting the boat to the race line were the edge of the budget, the crew chipped in with some beers but that's about it. Everyone brought their own food etc, with the exception of dropping a winch handle overboard by leaving it in a winch or something else 'stupid' against the boat rules the it was my responsibility.

but goes to the PT Barnum statement.. "There are suckers born every minute"
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:20 PM   #18
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I've seen many instances of boat owner's looking for crew because they need the help or the income and not because they really want to sail with someone else. This is unfortunate. However, I don't think one can jump to the assumption that cost asked of crew to contribute is a direct indicator of how the captain treats the crew. Different boats and different circumstances will have different costs associated with them. The philosophies, experiences and expectaions of the captain and crew can also be a big influence on cost and the appropriteness of what should be shared and not shared. I can give a case in point on my own ownership.

My first cruising boat was an older, small, solid cruiser that I typically sailed out of Florida to the Bahamas. It was cheap to provision in the U.S. and one can sail in the Bahamas very cheaply. On my last 2-month cruise, I never paid for a slip or mooring ball. I had several crew who with some experience who joined me, helped with some of the ongoing problems that come up with cruising boats. Most of the crew looking for this experience were on a limited income, but $15/day easily covered their food as well as some of the fuel, water, etc.

Now I own a new Beneteau in the BVIs. It is in charter when I'm not using it. The boat is well maintained. I'm now a sailing instructor and love to teach those with no experience, so potential crew do not have to contribute experience or work to the boat. However this sailing has much greater costs associated with it. It is expensive to provision, most bays are full of mooring balls, the boat requries more fuel, etc. and many people on a week week cruise want to live it up more. Even though I pay all costs associated with boat ownership, a $15 contribution from one or two crew wouldn't even begin to cover their proportion of the cost of the cruise. I've found this type of cruising attracts a different type of crew. There are many people who are willing to bear the costs of having to contribute more in return for stepping off a plane and being in a well-equipped boat in a great crusing ground.

Anyone who thinks asking crew to contribute more than $20/day means the boat owner is trying to make a profit clearly does not understand the costs that can be associated with cruising. If you look at the for-profit sailing industry, you will see that the market demands many, many times this to make a profit.

Again, I am not condoning those captains who take advantage of crew. I'm just making the point that you can't necessarily use the cost asked by the captain of crew to contribute as an indicator as to weather or not the captain is taking advantage of crew.

Like so many other things, I think it is important to gather as much information as possible about the nature of the cruise, the expectations, the costs and what you will get out of it, so you make a decision that is right for you.
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:55 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by sailormandave View Post
I've seen many instances of boat owner's looking for crew because they need the help or the income and not because they really want to sail with someone else. This is unfortunate. However, I don't think one can jump to the assumption that cost asked of crew to contribute is a direct indicator of how the captain treats the crew. Different boats and different circumstances will have different costs associated with them.
I do not disagree with you regarding the principle but I wonder if you have any suggestion of a better indicator of how the circumstances on a vessel can be judged?

Of course, I must, as always, include my caviat that if "crew" are paying more than they cost (i.e. contributing to the cost of the vessel (which would be there anyway) they are, de facto, fare paying passengers and the usual legal problems arrise.

I, for one, would greatly like to have this issue resolved as I believe many skippers are taking passengers in the terms of the law and thereby invalidating their insurance and leaving themselves wide open to claims for compensation should any form of accident or loss occur.

Aye

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Old 03-13-2007, 08:30 PM   #20
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Even though I pay all costs associated with boat ownership, a $15 contribution from one or two crew wouldn't even begin to cover their proportion of the cost of the cruise. I've found this type of cruising attracts a different type of crew. There are many people who are willing to bear the costs of having to contribute more in return for stepping off a plane and being in a well-equipped boat in a great crusing ground.
There is certainly a demand for this. However, if the owner cannot cover ALL costs (excluding the additional food, etc., that "crew" would need) he should not be cruising in the vessel he has. What it means is that the vessel is too large/expensive/unmanageable for him, without a "contribution" from others, for him to "go cruising". It SHOULD be a case of if you cannot do it yourself then PAY crew to assist you (or accept their assistance in return for feeding them at least).

Owner/skippers can call for whatever contribution from "crew" that the wish - this is an arrangement agreed by both parties and both parties must be aware of the implications. What is important though is that THIS (free) crewfinder is in place to assist genuine cruisers to find crew (in the true sense of the word) to assist them on passages, etc. To take on 2/3/4 "crew" for a "cruise" at over US$20/30/40 a day each (in your case $36 p.d.) is definitely going towards funding the action of cruising (not the boat)

THIS (free) crewfinder is not available for the use of those vessels with a different agenda - i.e. "Sailing Holidays", "Sailing Instruction", etc. There are many commercial publications that will accept these advertisements.

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Old 03-14-2007, 06:11 PM   #21
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This is mostly in reponse to Nausikka's question: "... I wonder if you have any suggestion of a better indicator of how the circumstances on a vessel can be judged?"

I don't pretend to be an expert, but from my experience as a recreational cruiser and a professional in the outdoor recreation field, I would make the following recommendations to crew looking for boats/captains:

1. Match your level of skill, interest and comfort to the experience being offered. Beware of someone who is trying hard to

sell you on the fit especially if they are asking a large financial contribution or looking for last minute crew. For example if you look at the crew wanted posts here, you will see that the majority of legitimate offers for a blue water experience want someone with previous cruising experience.

2. Fit and experience - A follow up on the above is that the experience isn't just about the physical cruise. Do you want a challenging trip or relaxing coastal cruise? Do you like marinas and night life or anchoring in secluded places with nobody around or passagemaking? Do you want the cruise to be a social experience? Does the age and personalites of other people onboard matter to you? How much privacy do you require? - Get a feel for these issues as well as just the mechanics of the experience. (I end up turning down far more potential crew for reasons of fit than of sailing experience. In fact for me, fit, sharing the experience and the joy of seeing others get turned on to cruising is why I look for crew- I don't need them to help me. I can and have soloed my own boat on many cruises)

3. Research and communication: Take a careful look at all the information provided and compare it to other options. Read boards like these to learn about potential problems. Communicate with the captain. Ask a lot of questions. If a captain won't spend the time to communicate with you he or she may be hiding something. Also, if you can't communicate for a short period of time via e-mail and phone - how can you expect to interact well on a cruise? References: If you have any doubts at all - ask for a reference so you can get feedback from someone who has sailed with the captain before. Compared to most cruising boats, I've had relatively few crew join me, yet I have a few people who can act as a reference for me and share their experience with other potential crew. I'd be leary of someone who has a lot of people crew for them, but can't provide comments and/or references from any of these people. (Keep in mind that people who are full time cruisers and not in the same country may be more limited in their ability to communicate with you.)

The other point brought up had to do with the legalities and when the line is crossed between cost sharing and taking on passangers. Again, I am not a lawyer or expert, but as a professional in the outdoor recreation business I do have some insights I can share. (To put this in persepctive of my experience: I have been running a collegiate outdoor recreation program for 20 years as well as worked for commercial adventure programs. I have run what are clearly commerical trips, I've worked with clubs who cost share to different degrees. I've been casual crew for recreational sailors as well as taken on casual crew.)

First of all, I'd recommend checking with tax lawyers, the coast guard and your insurance company, etc if you have any questions as to where you fall in this regard. Of course laws and policies will likely vary from country to country and place to place. My understanding is that in the US, you can ask people to contribute to all costs associated with an activity proportional to their involvement in the activity and it is not a commercial enterprise - you are sharing costs. I believe you can ask people to contribute beyond the variable costs such as the additional food they consume and have them contribute towards fixed costs , again, as long as it is proportional to their participation. This must include yourself. If it's cost sharing, a captain or trip organizer should contribute as much as anyone else. (In general, someone who is cost sharing must be paying into the experience, not gaining income from it.) However, even this may vary depending on circumstances. For example, many wilderness areas in the US which required permits make this distinction based on weather or not the trip leader is making any salary and a group may not be considered a commmercial trip even if the leader contributes nothing financially as long as they are not making any financial gain. I'd like to stress again, I am not an expert and if in doubt, check with the appropriate agency, etc. (My guess is that in regards to cruising, your insurance company, the coast guard, the tax people and a country's customs may all have slightly different interpretations. I'd also guess that this may often not be well defined and may interpreted one way by one person and completley different by someone else.) I'd also like to point out that this is my understanding of where the line is crossed from cost sharing to being a commercial enterprise. This does not mean this same line is ethical, in lines with the purpose of this board or standard practice in obtaining casual crew. What appears to be common practice and accepted as ethical in regards to non-paid crew joining boats is somewhere between fairly experienced crew possibly contributing their help and expertise and no finanical contributions on one extreme to less experienced crew contributing to their variable costs of food, etc and possibly communal costs such as fuel, water, ice mooring fees, etc on the other extreme I think the opinions and practices will vary a fair bit on some of these communal costs, but clearly someone who is looking to have costs of boat ownership such as maintenance, insurance, depreciation, etc shared, (while may be legally cost-sharing) is looking for something all together different than the standard practice of having casual crew.

As I said in an earlier post, I think even within in what is common practice there can be a huge difference in what ethical cost-sharing may be depending on the experience, crusing area, number of people on board, etc. Some threads in this discussion have focused on judging the experience based primarily on crew contributions. In my mind judging the ethics and circumstances of crew joining a boat based soley on what the cost is independant of the circumstances would be similar to arguing about the appropriate cost of purchasing a sailboat without knowing the age, make model, condition etc. of the boat in question. Research all aspects of the cruise including the costs and you will probably be much more satisfied with the experience than judging it on the costs alone.
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Old 03-14-2007, 06:48 PM   #22
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I don't pretend to be an expert, but from my experience as a recreational cruiser and a professional in the outdoor recreation field, I would make the following recommendations to crew looking for boats/captains:
Nice reply to the topic! A good extension to "Crew Tips & Advice"

Perhaps a cruiser should pose the question of "contributing crew" to their marine insurance broker to get the full answer as to the validity of their cover under these conditions. I fear that the answer will not be what one would like to hear - unless one has full commercial/charter cover and correct vessel/skipper documentation.

Further, maritime law will apply differently to how the common "law of the land" would deal with "adventure activites" ashore - very different regulations and conditions apply. You will also find that any vehicle/machinery that may be used for that "adventure activity" ashore would require specific documentation/special licensing and specific insurance extension.

This is a very interesting topic - hopefully we'll have a marine lawyer or broker along to post their professional opinion on the issue.

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Old 03-15-2007, 02:07 AM   #23
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I don't know the requirements in other countries, but the US Coast Guard is pretty specific about what constitutes taking passengers for hire. Any money changing hands.

Years ago the Coast Guard considered ANYTHING brought to a private yacht by guests on a boat to be payment, and thus the boat had to be run by a licensed captain. Something as small as a bag of potato chips or a six-pack of soft drinks was considered "payment". That exceedingly strict interpretation has been relaxed somewhat, but money changing hands is still interpreted as payment.

I would bet that any ethical lawyer not familiar with maritime law would not venture to give you an opinion on this issue.

As far as insurance, it has been my experience that insurance companies aren't interested in policing its policyholders. If a policyholder misrepresents anything on an application (for example, failing to inform the insurance company that the owner is carrying passengers for hire, or is not licensed to do so), the insurance company could refuse to honor a claim, regardless of how diligent the owner was in paying his premiums. That would be a terrible problem if a crew on the boat was seriously injured. And it can, and does, happen.

That won't stop boat owners from charging crew, and most crew probably won't stop paying to go sailing, with varying outcomes. Some will have a wonderful time, some will discover that they've been snookered. Just as long as nobody gets hurt, which is my greatest concern.\

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Old 03-15-2007, 01:41 PM   #24
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That won't stop boat owners from charging crew, and most crew probably won't stop paying to go sailing, with varying outcomes. Some will have a wonderful time, some will discover that they've been snookered. Just as long as nobody gets hurt, which is my greatest concern.\
Just to add to this Jeanne.

Most skippers/owners (taking payment) are getting their "crew" to sign disclaimers/waivers as an attempt to get them to sign away their legal rights. These "waivers" will never hold in a court of law - particularly if "money has changed hands" on an undocumented, improperly registered vessel and/or master.

But, the practice will continue for a number of reasons.
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:01 AM   #25
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After having read and re-read the opinions voiced in this thread I am exceedingly happy that I have never asked anyone crewing for me for any contribution whatsoever to the costs of either the vessel or the food they have received on board as:

1. by not having any money or goods changing hands I have not risked invalidating my insurance. The cost of having to effect serious repairs to my, or worse, another persons boat could break the bank. An even worse senario would be not having the resourses to pay a claim for injuries sustained on board (although, touch wood, no one has yet suffered more than a few scrapes aboard NAUSIKAA)

2. no one is bearing any grudge against me for having been "cheated" out of some cash just because we have different tastes in food

3. I have retained my independence. If things don't work out so well with a new crew member (and again this has not happened to date) I can with a clear concience tell that person to clear out in the next port without the come-back that "you can't do that, I have paid for this".

4 And finally, and for me most importantly, I chose a boat I can handle myself. Sure there is many a bigger and more luxurious craft out there but by having a suitable boat for MY needs I can take or not take crew at my pleasure. For the most part it is my pleasure to take a crew. I especially enjoy taking young people along and introducing them to the sea and sailing from which I have derived so much pleasure over the last 38 years. I have had a relatively successful career and done well in other fields too but if my legacy turns out to be that I introduced and enlightened a number of youngsters to life at sea then that in itself is more than sufficient payment for me.

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Old 03-16-2007, 09:15 AM   #26
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@Nausikaa

Nice post!

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Old 03-16-2007, 03:50 PM   #27
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I thought JeannePs comments about the coast guards view that if crew give any money to the captain, it's considered a commerical venture were interesting.

I think the system I have usually used prevents this issue: Crew never give me any fixed sum of money. We just take turns buying communal items such a food, fuel, etc and keep log of these expenses, trying to stay even. At the end of the cruise we just settle up any differences.
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Old 03-16-2007, 08:22 PM   #28
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Well, not in the eyes of the coast guard. do understand, this is not my idea, this is the government's opinion. You're going to be okay until somebody squeals.

they are paying money - that goes into the boat. Fuel, for example. That is not the same thing as bringing a little food for everyone to share.
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