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Old 04-12-2010, 05:23 PM   #1
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I am travelling through the Americas by bicycle (see my travel blog at www.wishfish.org) and I would dearly love to be able to connect all the dots without having to resort to air travel. To me, sailing would be the obvious answer but I'm not sure how people with boats feel about scruffy cyclist hitch-hikers. I would of course be more than willing to make myself useful on board.

My sailing experience: currently quite limited but I have been aboard small boats and I seldom get sea-sick.

My skills and attributes: I am fit, strong, agile, adaptable, I have a rigger's licence from when I was an acrobat (but that was a while ago), I can cook, I speak a few languages (English, Portuguese, Spanish, a little Czech), I'm a good conversationalist...

I am in Central Mexico at the moment and I would dearly love to get to Cuba.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions I'd love to hear them...
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:42 PM   #2
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Try www.findacrew.net

Storing a road bike on a yacht can be tricky at times.
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:46 PM   #3
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Yes, I thought that might be an issue... any other thoughts or comments.
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:50 AM   #4
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Other than cost, what is it that people have against air travel?

Quite honestly, you can get some lovely trips via private plane/small charter that will allow you to see the birds' eye view of where you're going and can get you into remote spots, too.

If you're not a sailor already--someone who can really contribute to the operation of the yacht--it really doesn't seem the most logical route at all. If you don't like air travel, you can likely find a small charter boat/cruise boat which is going your way.

Of course, I'm mentioning options which will cost you more than a tiny bit of money.

Sadly, it seems there are too many traveling non-sailors on very tight budgets who really want to hitch a ride on a private yacht simply because they (the hitch hiker) perceive this idea to be a good way for a cheap/free ride. I'm all for avid sailors to volunteer to crew on private yachts as they will be able to contribute to watch standing, navigation, fixing things--they'll really be able to participate in the operation of the boat, AND I think its great when someone whose primary goal is learning more about sailing/cruising decides to volunteer on other people's yachts, but I strongly suggest that folks who are just trying to get from point A to point B and think hopping a ride on a yacht is the cheapest way to avoid a boring and costly airplane ride...find a charter, a charter plane, any other way.

I visited your blog just now...I thought that perhaps I was being a bit harsh in my post and that perhaps you actually are a sailor. Nope.

You've been very fortunate in that several people have kindly contributed to your travel expenses! I find it unbelievably audacious that people such as you actually have a paypal button on their blog so that people can give you money for your personal travels. What is the world coming to?
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:54 AM   #5
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Trade in your road bike and get a fold-up. Then you have something that will more easily stow aboard a sailing yacht, as well as something to offer potential skippers (take me on as crew and you get to borrow the bike).
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Old 04-17-2010, 03:51 PM   #6
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I have to agree with Red' on this one.

While I have experience in sailing we are very humble when asking anyone if the wife can work as crew on a boat. Mainly due to her lack of experience. Luckily we have three yacht clubs in this area and they are a friendly bunch who don't mind as long as you are honest in your skill level and listen to orders (essentially are teachable). Though for any of the longer sails you need to have competent crew certificate for almost all of them if not related to the owner/captain of the boat.

It is one of the areas that the wife and I agree totally. We pull this off (which is looking like it just might all come together ). There will be no taking on crew that we don't get to spend a week or two sailing with near land and an understanding of the SOP on board. This might seem harsh but remember that while out at sea there is no real safety net once beyond the 20 mile mark (heck even before that in many areas) and every member needs to be able to do their part and have a good basic understanding of what is going on before something goes wrong.

Just my two cents worth, take it or leave it. Best suggestion is to find a charter or get the funds together for taking a course under sail that will take you where you want to go. If you go check out some of the tall ships you might find one of them willing to train you and transport you to where you want to go IF it is within their planned route. That way you will learn a good bit as well as not have to use an airplane. though it might cost you a bit to go this route it will have longer lasting benefits.

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Old 04-17-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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So how do you get experience, then, if you don't happen to know someone with a yacht? It seems a pretty closed world, really. If my primary goal was to save money then I would fly, clearly, but I think it's a crazy world we live in where flying is the 'cheapest' option. I am not just expecting a free lift, I do genuinely want to learn more about sailing and be able to contribute.

I can do nothing about your judgments of me but I don't believe that anyone who knows me thinks I am an irresponsible free-loader.
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Old 04-17-2010, 09:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unaustralian' date='17 April 2010 - 11:13 AM View Post

So how do you get experience, then, if you don't happen to know someone with a yacht? It seems a pretty closed world, really. If my primary goal was to save money then I would fly, clearly, but I think it's a crazy world we live in where flying is the 'cheapest' option. I am not just expecting a free lift, I do genuinely want to learn more about sailing and be able to contribute.

I can do nothing about your judgments of me but I don't believe that anyone who knows me thinks I am an irresponsible free-loader.
There are quite a few threads on this board guiding people on how to get the knowledge and experience that makes them a more desirable crew. In a nutshell, one goes where there are yachts, clubs, and people who enjoy sailing and racing and just going out for the day. One gets to know these people by volunteering to help them out in return for going sailing with them. Racing skippers are the most likely prospects. However, good crew for a trip such as you desire, and which probably doesn't exist anyway (more about that later), has more experience and fewer encumbrances than you bring.

Would you be willing to take your bike to bed with you? Space on a yacht is very precious, particularly below deck. Your bike would probably not survive being left on deck for salt water to soak it. Most storage compartments are cubes with no side larger than maybe 1.5 meters. The largest space is the bunks, and none of them are very large. The single berths are usually narrower than a single bed, the forward vee berth is the width of a queen-size bed, but the foot is in the pointy bow of the boat, so is usually not more than approximately 300-400 cm wide. We took crew with us from Ecuador to French Polynesia, and he slept with his surfboard in his bunk. He thought he could leave it lashed to the lifelines on deck, but when he saw the size and force of the seas he decided that it was safer to sleep with it below.

Finally, US sailors heading back to the US from Mexico would most likely not stop in Cuba, since the US policy (foolish as I think it is) does not allow US citizens to spend any money in Cuba. Leaving the US for the Caribbean and extended cruising in the tropics some US vessels are willing to stop in Cuba, but not very many. Canadian boats are less restricted. However, it's a rare yacht that sails from the west coast of the Gulf of Mexico due east to the Caribbean or Cuba. Nasty trip, would take weeks and be most unpleasant.

By the first of June most yachts in the area will be up the Rio Dulce for hurricane season (June 1 to December 1), and hang out there for that 6 months.

Cruising sailors don't want their life to be a "closed world" but neither do they want to trust their lives and their home to people with no understanding of the risks and responsibilities of offshore voyaging. Virtually nothing needed to command a sailboat into the ocean has an equivalent bit of gear on a land-based vehicle. There are no road signs in the ocean, and anything that is dropped overboard is lost forever. A person doesn't learn how to sail out of sight of land simply by reading a book or taking a two-week class, and just as with any other vehicle, having once been a passenger does not an operator make.

We have very good friends who have bicycled through Indonesia, Malaysia, and parts of Thailand. They've bicycled through Baja California. They thought it would be great to do some big time traveling by getting jobs on a large cruise ship (they had excellent qualifications for getting a job on a ship) but they didn't know if they would enjoy it. We took them with us as we cruised from Queensland to Darwin in 1997. They were wonderful guests and made themselves very useful on the boat. However, as young and athletic and motivated as they were, they were clueless about traveling on a small yacht and when, after several months of cruising, we made a crossing that took us out of the sight of land, they both got miserably seasick. We didn't need any help with running the boat, though sometimes their lack of knowledge made them a bit of a hindrance. We loved having them, but only because they were such good friends could we consider their traveling with us on the boat to be a pleasant experience. I would ask much more of a stranger, and I'm sure I'm not alone with this attitude. And I know we're much more tolerant owners than several we've met who have kicked their crew off at the first landfall, no matter how inconvenient it was for the crewperson.
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Old 04-18-2010, 02:04 AM   #9
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Well, thanks all, for putting me in my place. People like me clearly need it.

...but seriously, thank you, especially Jeanne for your long and very reasonable reply and I enjoyed looking at your sailing and cruising dictionary.

It's not that I was expecting to waltz onto some yacht and be welcomed with open arms... you will note that I asked for advice, not passage... I'm quite aware of the fairly unrealistic nature of my dream plan but dreams can, with some effort in the right places, become reality.
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Old 04-18-2010, 05:23 PM   #10
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Not saying not possible just not really reasonable with most folks and i know of folks that would take you on and I would not put my enemy on board with them. If you have the interest use the bicycle to get yourself to Florida and than start looking for non US flagged boats and you might find that your dream can become a reality.

As I said above and has been said by others in better words than mine; sailing while very enjoyable, is alot of work and responsibility.

Best of luck,

Michael

PS on storing the bike, the further it can be broken down to component parts and stored in such away that will survive what the sea will hit it with the better. Only that means having the kit to put it back together again at the other end (not much kit depending on how the bike is built).

Edited for the PS
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Old 04-18-2010, 05:40 PM   #11
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Well, bikes have to be broken down to get on planes, too, you know... and yes, I do have the kit to do this since I have had to do ongoing maintenance on my bike over the twelve thousand kilometres I have already travelled.

Effort, work and responsibility are nothing new to me so that's not going to put me off :-)
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Old 04-18-2010, 08:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep' date='15 April 2010 - 05:50 AM View Post

Other than cost, what is it that people have against air travel?
CO2 emission.
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unaustralian' date='18 April 2010 - 09:40 AM View Post

Effort, work and responsibility are nothing new to me so that's not going to put me off :-)
Well, if the road ends for you and your bike at your present locale, you might consider getting a stout sea kayak or a one-man open tripping canoe with a custom cover and doing a perimeter close to shore to make your way northwards. It can be done and would be a wonderful adventure.

Be inspired by these folks Paddle to the Amazon: The Ultimate 12,000-Mile Canoe Adventure who paddled from Canada to Brazil in a (custom covered) open canoe.

Sorry I can't recall the names of the folks, but I'd read some wonderful stories in the 1980's about a couple who sailed their open canoe in various parts of the Caribbean over many years. Canoe sailing is like dingy sailing. As such, you could easily learn to sail (in a dingy) and then put together your own trip without relying very much on other folks. Of course, I'm ignoring large open water passages which you would NOT be able to make safely via kayak, canoe, or canoe sail. But, your adventure would continue...

A tripping canoe has weight capacity for supplies and room to store a (disassembled) bike. It is a realistic thing to do. My husband and I (avid cyclists in our younger days...the longest trip we did was 1300 miles though...) always thought that we would combine passions of canoing and cycling and take a tripping canoe and folding bikes for some adventures. We've done quite a bit of ocean canoing in such an open canoe and I can tell you its not for the feint of heart but it is fun and very "doable" by someone strong and fit.

Best of luck in finding a way to continue your trip with a water leg.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:41 PM   #14
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Yes, the idea of canoe/kayak definitely appeals, although I think it would be a separate trip. When I was travelling in the Yukon and British Columbia I met a lot of people who where cyclists and canoeists but they seldom mixed the two for some reason - maybe because it's possible to carry a bike on a canoe but not so easy to carry a canoe on a bike.

A LOT of my current trip has been in mountains... (and so why do I find myself on a sail forum....? well, because the sea is my first love, I guess...)
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