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Old 10-30-2011, 01:38 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1

Let me start by saying that if this post is in the wrong topic area, please let me know...

My friend and I are two Penn Staters who run seasonal businesses in PA. We are both 25 year old males. We have 1 month of vacation in mid Jan - Feb. We would like to crew, yet we have minimal experience and unfortunately minimal time. So, I have a few questions for you guys:
  • We are planning to fly into Key West. Do you think we will be able to find someone looking for crew by just stopping in at local marinas? Or is this something we should DEFINITELY set up in advance.
  • We were planning to purchase round-trip tickets... does this sound like a bad idea? Would it be hard to find a boat which will be leaving KW and not returning in three weeks?
  • Is there a better destination that comes to mind that may fit our itinerary?
  • We have yet to buy tickets, and having a return flight out of a different airport in the Carribean, etc. is not out of the question. Is there a popular route that many cruisers take out of KW at that time of year (mid Jan - Mid Feb)?

Thank you so much for you ideas, advice, and insight. We are just looking to make the best out of anything while learning as much about sailing as possible.

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Old 10-30-2011, 07:33 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Washington DC
Vessel Name: SV Mahdee
Posts: 3,236

Welcome to CruiserLog.

What you are describing (your limited time, lack of experience, and desire to go to a particular tourist location) really looks like two guys who should charter a pleasure trip on a sailboat rather than crewing on a cruising boat. The main issue here is your limited time which will greatly limit your flexibility. Also--there are lots of catamarans chartering diving trips out of Key West but it is not necessarily a place where you'll just happen to find a CRUISER coming and going for 3 short weeks.

You have a lot of goals that look like they can be broken down into things like:

1. learning as much about sailing as possible

2. sailing during your short vacation with known entry and exit time/location (ideally the same place)

3. being someplace warm for the learning and vacation time.

You might be able to find someone who is doing a boat delivery to take you on. However, that might be somewhere really cold at the time you desire to go sailing and that's not super likely given that you don't have any experience.

Sometimes people with no experience do get to come along on boat delivery trips simply because they're friends-of-friends of the boat owner, etc. So--reaching out to everyone you know who might know someone who needs help--that is a good idea as well.

I would suggest that you investigate taking some local (to you) navigation/sailing class room courses and then signing up for a Florida or Caribbean based sailing class for a week or two of your vacation. You'll get time on the water and you'll learn a lot. Then, take advantage of next spring and summer to crew on boats closer to where you are (weekends perhaps) or do some dingy sailing on local lakes and rivers. Finally, next fall you could realistically start looking around for a cruiser to take you on (somewhere in the world) during your vacation. You may well find that with only a few weeks available and without alot of "slide" room for things to go awry, that you are best just continuing to take sailing classes (on the water) and then chartering boats until you have a lot more experience or time. One or the other is needed for things to work out neatly.

Where exactly are you located? Near Philadelphia or another city on a river/water? You can pick up some navigation classes from a local US Power Squadron and that will be helpful to you for any boating you do in the future.

Best of luck,

"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 10-30-2011, 08:51 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2009
Home Port: St. Augustine FL
Vessel Name: Linnupesa
Posts: 189

People have schedules, boats tend to go on their own sweet time. That is true and will be confirmed by every experienced cruiser.

Very few boats actually leave exactly on schedule... weather, break-downs, crew issues.. they all work against you. Even if you find a boat

"going out" it hasn't yet and may still be in the same port a week later. Your time window is fine for Greyhound Bus but they don't do

water wings yet.

Good luck on your plans but do not bank on them materialising. In the off-season it may be best to take an open ticket with a bit of

flexibility in changing the time and place. As to gaining experience, see the previous post for solid advice. If you can see lightning and hear thunder and are young and able bodied many captains will likely take you on for short trips, as they can walk you off at the next port if needed, so I would not go overboard on a lot of sailing courses first. They would help though as people will know that you are earnest and not just kicking tires, er, fenders.

Check on crew-finder dot com and similar sites about options, narrow your search to location/date/venue to cut out the others.

Smooth sailing

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Old 10-31-2011, 11:34 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,098

Check out these pages of the Cruising Wiki: YACHT CREWING INFORMATION



Key West might be a great place for your vacation, but it's not a great place to find cruisers leaving for someplace else. January and February are not good months for anybody leaving the US. Boats going to the Bahamas usually leave from Florida - Miami, Lake Worth - in November, sometimes waiting a couple weeks for a reasonable weather window.

You could find crewed charters in the Keys, the Bahamas (interesting one on Andros Island) around that time.

Passages to the Caribbean from Florida can be very slow, taking months if the cruiser chooses Van Sant's "thornless path", or just weeks if they tough it out and head straight for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Hard work getting there, though once in the Caribbean it's all worth the effort. But not if you arrived after a hard 3-week bashing only to find a flight back to the US without having a chance to enjoy the destination.

Good luck.

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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