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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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Old 03-18-2007, 01:58 AM   #29
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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.
I've spent quite a bit of time trying to find out exactly how the coast guard defines the difference between a commercial venture and recreational venture regarding anything contributed by people other than the owner. It does seem they say that anytime "consideration" is given, it is a commercial. However at least under USCG 1999-5040, they define Consideration as:

"Consideration means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity but not including a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage by monetary contribution or donation of fuel, food, beverage, or other supplies."

(http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2...cfr24.10-1.pdf)

I would interpret this to mean if crew pitches in money which covers their expense of items such as food, fuel, etc, and you are not making a profit, you would not be considered a commercial under the eyes of the US Coast Guard.

I can't guarantee what I found is the most recent, or that there isn't something else to the contrary written somewhere else - but thought I'd share what I had been able to find.
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Old 03-18-2007, 11:56 AM   #30
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That 1999 paper seems to be the one I was referring to, though I hadn't read it completely. It is more detailed than I expected, and gives a helpful definition of economic consideration. I think there would still be some quibbling by some owners who would claim that wear and tear and depreciation were part of the costs of the voyage, but once they get into intangible "expenses" referred to in business accounting terms, "profit" rears its head.

Thanks for providing that.
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Old 03-21-2007, 02:54 AM   #31
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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"
What do you think of the third camp where owners stipulate delivery crew pay their own airfares to delivery skippers as per the posting crew wanted 18-03-07 mainly pacific.

I consider owners are not meeting their obligations under internatioal treaties and conventions when they make this requirement to delivery skippers. Crew who crew on delivery vessels and pay their own airfares obviously do not know about the international treaties most countries are signed up to. All crew have to do is to make a request to the authorities for airfares home and the authorities force it on captains of vessels with crew that need to get home to pay.

Owners making this stipulation are abusing crew in my opinion.
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:01 AM   #32
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I have heard of this but I don't understand it. As was explained to me once, the skipper is capable of handling the boat himself, and offers a crew position to somebody who wants to get sea miles and experience. However, I went to the delivery firm's web site, and I don't understand why somebody would be willing to take on a Pacific crossing delivery (the Colombia to OZ) and pay for travel to and from the boat when the skipper is being paid. Short deliveries, yes, I can understand - nice way for an avid sailor to get in some hard sailing. But a trans-Pacific crossing? That's a long time and a lot of work. Pretty cheeky of the group, methinks.

I was also told that the way the skipper handles the crew with regard to repatriation is that the skipper asks for the return air ticket from the crew member when he sets foot on the boat, along with his passport, to be returned when he leaves the boat. Is this true?

I think that crew that go along with schemes such as this aren't knowledgeable about the law. I would also believe that many of the customs and immigration offices where these trips end might be similarly unaware of the law and the crew member is the one left to hang. Discussions such as this might be the only inkling some crew might have to what their rights are.

However. For people looking for sea time and experience, and a letter of recommendation at the end, the delivery group is probably a better bet since they pay all expenses while the crew is on board than someone who asks the crew to not only pay for his travel to and from the boat, but also all his expenses on the boat, including sharing boat expenses such as fuel, clearing fees, etc.
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Old 03-21-2007, 06:49 AM   #33
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I think that crew that go along with schemes such as this aren't knowledgeable about the law. I would also believe that many of the customs and immigration offices where these trips end might be similarly unaware of the law and the crew member is the one left to hang. Discussions such as this might be the only inkling some crew might have to what their rights are.
As far as Customs and Immigration authorities are concerned, they are well aware of the ship owner's / operator's responsibility to reopatriate the crew when signed off. What they do not care about (as it is none of their business) is where the money for repatriation comes from. If a crew member has deposited a sum for this with the vessel's owner /skipper and the pile of cash is put on the table indicating that air tickets can be bought then the authorities are quite happy.

The issue, as far as the authorities are concerned, is that a signed off crew member should not become a burden for the port state.

Having said that, you would never get me to sign on a vessel without repatriation included in the contract / ship's articles.

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Old 03-22-2007, 12:58 AM   #34
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As far as Customs and Immigration authorities are concerned, they are well aware of the ship owner's / operator's responsibility to reopatriate the crew when signed off. What they do not care about (as it is none of their business) is where the money for repatriation comes from. If a crew member has deposited a sum for this with the vessel's owner /skipper and the pile of cash is put on the table indicating that air tickets can be bought then the authorities are quite happy.

The issue, as far as the authorities are concerned, is that a signed off crew member should not become a burden for the port state.

Having said that, you would never get me to sign on a vessel without repatriation included in the contract / ship's articles.

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You do not have to go as far as a contract as in most situations for cruising crew there is no contract and even if the contract says you pay your own flights home the authorities say statuary law over rides contract law and stipulate the owner / captain pay the flights if it comes to a dispute. Most crew do not know this.
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Old 03-22-2007, 06:53 AM   #35
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You do not have to go as far as a contract........
You are absolutely correct. However, it is normal practice in shipping circles to stipulate the "rules of repatriation" as the authorities do not care how you travel home but the individual seaman does. For example, is travel to be by business class air travel or can you be repatriated as crew member on another vessel returning to your country.

This is certainly overkill as far as most yacht crews are concerned but we have to accept that the laws which aply in the cruising fraternity are to a very large extent formulated for merchant shipping.

For me repatriation means an air ticket home and not signing on another vessel as a distressed (an official term) seaman.

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Old 03-23-2007, 11:06 PM   #36
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Just for interest's sake, as of right now on this forum, there are 116 "want to crew" posts with 61 replies, and 82 "Crew wanted" posts with 239 responses. Obviously there are more people wanting to crew than those needing crew. It's sad that not all those who want to sail on "other people's boats" will be able to do it because of the legal and financial implications which likely stop many skippers from taking on crew. Is there a solution to this?

Sorry, not crew - people wanting a cheap holiday on a boat.
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:15 AM   #37
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Just for interest's sake, as of right now on this forum, there are 116 "want to crew" posts with 61 replies, and 82 "Crew wanted" posts with 239 responses. Obviously there are more people wanting to crew than those needing crew. It's sad that not all those who want to sail on "other people's boats" will be able to do it because of the legal and financial implications which likely stop many skippers from taking on crew. Is there a solution to this?

Sorry, not crew - people wanting a cheap holiday on a boat.
Wait in Line? {Tongue in Cheek}

Seriously though, this is not the only board or form of advertising; this one being limited to non-commercial endeavors.

Those are raw statistics of the current supply and demand, at a given time, on this board only. Thinking about that, it probably is not much different than the employment and work want ads in a newspaper, in that not every candidate is suited for every position or employer. With a yacht and crew there are many other things to consider from both sides, skills, expectations, departure date & port, passage route, time required en-route, compatibility, etc.

There are solutions to legal and financial implications; understand and comply with them, participate in legislation to change them, or violate them.

A quick look at this current data:

<QUOTE > 82 "Crew wanted" posts with 239 responses <End Quote>

239 / 82 = 2.9 inquiries per position

Without knowing the interactions between those potential crew members and skippers, we can not form accurate conclusions. Just a very few examples:

* Maybe the vessel is leaving to soon or to late.

* Going where the crew does not want to go, or can not go, or does not have adequate time available.

* Lacks resources to get to the dock.

* Lacks a valid passport

* Has an addiction problem

* Wrong gender or sexual orientation

* Crew member is truly interested in sailing and rejects the skipper who has underlying motives concerning the afore mentioned.

2.9 inquirers per position: The inquirers could take the form of a "Shot Gun Approach"; meaning potential crew contacts numerous skippers, looking for the best fit. No different than sending out multiple resumes', knowing one can only accept one position for a regular 8-5 day job.

I hope that clarified it some. Meanwhile the board remains a free source, for those with non-commercial interests, to interact with others having similar interests.
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Old 03-24-2007, 03:06 PM   #38
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Sorry, not crew - people wanting a cheap holiday on a boat.
I think this sums up the differences in opinion quite well. I don't take "crew" along for a cheap holiday, nor are they financing my cruising. What I am talking about is a lifestyle. Not just any lifestyle but a great one. One which I am prepared to share with others in order to share with others the pleasure I have received from my cruising lifestyle.

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Old 03-24-2007, 03:31 PM   #39
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That was said with tongue in cheek, since we agreed that "crew" is not the correct term.

Yes I want to share my lifestyle with others. And I want to expand my circle of friends. The definition of a friend is a stranger I don't know yet, so I advertise on these websites in hopes of meeting some special people who would like to share my lifestyle.
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Old 03-24-2007, 04:14 PM   #40
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Yes I want to share my lifestyle with others. And I want to expand my circle of friends. The definition of a friend is a stranger I don't know yet, so I advertise on these websites in hopes of meeting some special people who would like to share my lifestyle.
I agree completely with your definition of a stranger. Good one!

However, I am against taking "crew", new friends or whatever is sematically correct along for some form of payment or compensation. I have gone into this in detail elsewhere on this site about this. I am not against cost sharing in principal but in practice there are too many complications.

As far as the site is concerned though, the bottom line is that ads for crew or, again whatever the semantically correct term may be, can be posted as long as the "crew" member can tag along free of charge or is required only to contribute what is a reasonable proportion of the victualling cost. The accepted norm here is US $20 per day. Form my ownpart - I live on less aboard.

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