Imagine Being Here for Free
Explore the World on the Open Water
Oh the life of a sailor; spinning the wheel, shifting starboard, and enjoying the sound and sights of the ocean with a beer in hand. That is the sight and life that I constantly watched, admired, and craved for growing up studying my grandfather as he would scrub the deck, careen the boat to one side, and holler out a stern warning when the boom came swinging around. There is something inherently special and undeniably spectacular about sailing and the life that comes along with it.
The problem is that a yacht is a luxury that, it seems, only a few can really afford, or at least that is the idea that has been put into all our heads. Sure it would be wonderful to lie on the deck and watch the sunrise while being far from land, but it just isn’t feasible with today’s economy, right? Wrong. Even if you do not own your own boat, have no real sailing experience, and are short on money, your dreams of watching dolphins swim playfully alongside your vessel may not be as outlandish as you first imagine.
Many adventurous travelers are taking the slower, less traveled, route around the world and hitching rides home on yachts instead of opting for overpriced, highly taxed plane tickets. In fact, more people are getting away with this adventure and traveling the world by yacht every day, and it really is a viable and affordable opportunity. Of course a world plane ticket might be the easiest and most efficient way to see the world, but that was so yesterday. Instead of grabbing a backpack, a pair of comfortable hiking boots and a plane ticket, why not grab some flip flops, sunscreen, a mop and hop aboard a yacht?
Hardly seems believable that you can travel the world by yacht for free. However if you are determined and interested in seeing the world from a yacht then read along and keep these tips in mind. You may just be closer to living out your sailing dream than you ever thought possible.
Travel the Word on a Yacht Tip #1- A Willingness to learn is more important than Experience
Many people scoff at the idea of traveling the world via a yacht because they simply do not have any experience. How can you climb aboard a vessel and help it run its course without knowing what you are doing? The truth is that many skippers are more than willing to teach newcomers the ins and outs of sailing. They love what they do and love to share their passion and pass down knowledge. If you have the right attitude, are willing to learn and down with getting your hands dirty, then there are more than a few captains that will take you on as a crew member. Be committed to learning the basics, be willing to scrub the deck and you will be that much closer to living out your dream.
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #2- Hard Work Equals Success
When you first picture traveling the world on a yacht you may imagine sitting back with a drink in hand and just coasting along clear blue waters. This may be the idyllic picture and a reality for luxury yacht owners, but isn’t really an option for the rest of us. You are not on a cruise and are not paying top dollar to be chauffeured around, thus you will be expected to help clean, cook, and even fix certain problems while at sea and while docked. It may be a little dirty or tiring, but the experience makes it all worthwhile in the long run.
Enjoy the Calm of Open Water
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #3-Take Advantage of Hostels
For obvious reasons, hostels are a top choice for people looking to travel on a dime but they offer a lot more than just a cheap place to lay your head. Use the resources in sailing communities and network around at hostels for opportunities and possibly work. You never know what jobs may be advertised on the local notice boards or which opportunities other travelers might be aware of. Get in touch with everyone you can and ask around, chances are that you will bump into someone with a sailing contact that you can get in touch with.
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #4- Make Sailing Clubs your New Hang out Spot
High class yacht clubs usually require that you have an expensive membership before hanging out, however there are more than a few that are more casual and friendly .These local grass roots clubs are the ones most likely to have a plethora of opportunities and friendly skippers willing to hand out free rides, in return for some hard work.
If you really want to get in the know then try poking around at the bar and make nice with the bartender. The bartenders are usually the ones that have all the inside knowledge and a good idea of which skippers might be looking to take on some extra crew for a long trip. In fact bartenders are probably the first people you want to get to know anywhere, let alone just at sailing clubs.
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #5- Timing, Timing and more Timing
Timing is everything when you are looking to travel on a yacht for free. There are major rallies and races all throughout the year which means that a number of boats set off from different destinations all the time. By finding out when big races and rallies take place, and getting to the right spot on time, you can practically double your chances of finding a spot on board.
For example the Atlantic Rally Challenge takes place in November and involves 250 yachts that set out from mainland Spain or Portugal. The goal is to make it all the way to St. Lucia for Christmas and there are a number of skippers in need of extra crew to make the trip.
The best part is that many of these rallies are based around comradeship and fun so the emphasis isn’t always on speed or doing things the right way. That is what makes joining the crew a rewarding and learning experience, and a great way to get from Europe to the Caribbean for free.
Not Exactly the Lap of Luxury
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #6- Yacht Travel doesn’t mean Instant Luxury
If you want to plan a trip on a yacht just because you are intrigued by the luxury, then this probably isn’t the best way for you to go about things. If you are looking for a high class, top notch boat with elegant cuisine and nighttime entertainment, apply for a cruise ship job. If you want to travel on a yacht for the experience, to find a way to travel cheap, and to get in touch with the elements and learn, then this is for you.
A ride on the average sailboat will usually consist of very cramped quarters, basic facilities, and only the necessities. Most nights you may even have to sleep in shifts, while one crew member watches while the other one sleeps. Most boats will have more crew members than beds and you may end up on the floor quite a few nights. But if you are willing to rough it out and try new things, you might learn that a spare sail can make an incredibly comfortable mattress.
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #7-Leave Luggage at Home
This is a given for most backpackers, but even more of an issue when traveling at sea. You are going to be working with very limited space and no captain is going to look kindly upon you dragging suitcases onto the vessel. When you have been at sea for awhile then you may even want to consider sending home some of the trinkets you acquired along the way in order to lighten the load. Clean underwear, sunscreen, and a bathing suit should be more than enough to get by most of the time.
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #8-Make Sure this is what you want to do
Traveling for free on a yacht is not for everyone, it is as simple as that. It isn’t as luxurious as it first sounds, it can get cramped and it can get dirty. Some people that have done it cherish the experience and plan to do it over and over again. Others went stir crazy and quit on the trip before it even began. If you are easily bored, get seasick, or are claustrophobic, then maybe this isn’t the right method of travel for you. This is a time in life when you will truly come to understand what it is like to not have anywhere to go, or anything to do. The crew will become your family, and you need to be prepared for that.
If you love the idea of bonding on the open water, dining on canned beans, and getting in touch with isolation, this is the best way to travel. If you see yourself snapping out and contemplating strangling the crew and tossing them overboard, look at other opportunities before embarking on a two week trip from a desolate island.
It's a Dirty Job But Someone Has to Do it
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #9- Don’t Expect to Make Money
Working as a crew member on a yacht is not a get rich scheme. There is a number of high paying and quality jobs for experienced sailors, but chances are you are not one of them. What we are talking about here is basically high end hitchhiking, and no one wants to pay to pick up a hitchhiker.
In terms of the actual financial issues it will all depend on the work you find and the skipper you work with. Some captains will be willing to support you for the duration of the trip in return for a good attitude and hard work. Others will expect you to pitch in towards food and supplies for the crew. Be sure that you discuss these ins and outs with the skipper before jumping onboard. The last thing you need is to be thrown overboard after claiming you left your wallet at home when it comes time to pay for fuel.
Travel the World on a Yacht Tip #10- Keep in Touch with Crew and Captains
Be sure that you collect and keep all the contact information of the people you work with on your first trip. While you may think that traveling around on a yacht is a one time thing, there is a big chance you will get the urge to get back out there and see the world from the water. The next time you are sitting in your cramped cuticle or stuck in your house buried under snow, it will sure be handy to have the information you need to get out. If you do a fantastic job it could even lead to full time, paid work. But that isn’t why you are doing this in the first place is it?