To read the 1st and 2nd posts about Global Hitchhiking, click on these links:
How to find sailboats or start your Global Hitchhiking journey
There are lots of ways find sailboats, or crewing, meaning Global HitchHiking, all of which are helpful and valid. There are websites you can join, some of which are free and some charge a monthly fee. There are Facebook groups to join. You could walk the docks in whichever port/town you are in and network with sailors and yacht clubs in your home town. And lastly, there is word of mouth, which honestly ends up being the most successful opportunities. In this post we’ll cover all of these.
There are lots of great websites that offer services for Global HitckHikers. Here are some of them:
- Offshore Passage Opportunities
I could cover them all in detail, but there’s another great site who has already reviewed all of the major sites and given them ratings and associated costs. Lost Aussies is a great blog and I highly recommend you taking a look at what they are doing, which includes documenting their travels and covering topics of Environmentalism. This link will take you to their crewing website ratings.
Real Life Example
Floatplan is one of the first sites I joined and the first site that actually delivered on its promise to find a boat for me. Of course, like I said in a previous post, all of these sites are a little like dating apps. You setup a profile as a crew member and boat owners setup a profile as boat owners, and it’s about finding a good match, allowing them to find a crew member. A good match is often when your plans and the plans of a boat owner end up being the same. If you’re looking for a boat in the South Pacific, for example, and there’s a boat looking for crew, then there’s a good chance you’ll find a match. Which is why it’s important to use several websites, rather than just one. The nicest thing about Floatplan.com, is it’s one of the few sites that are free and because it’s free, you aren’t restricted by who you can talk to or email.
My good friend Paul, who owned a 60 foot ketch sailboat, was looking for someone to help him sail his boat from Virginia to Aruba and found me on Floatplan.com. When he first approached me I had just left my computer consulting job and was trying to consider my next move. Going to Virginia at that moment and helping him sail it to Aruba would have been the perfect timing for me, but he didn’t realize the amount of repairs he had to do to the boat, and ended up missing the safe window for sailing southwards because of hurricane season. Once he said he wouldn’t be going until later in the year, that opened up an opportunity for me to go to sailing school in Gibraltar and Spain and get my YachtMaster. Then when I returned from there, he was ready to go and I was now more qualified to go with him and help him get his boat safely to Aruba. So Floatplan was the perfect site to match us up.
Facebook Groups were a pleasant surprise for me as they have been very influential in finding boats while I’ve been out. Simply do searches in google for places you want to hitchhike to and you should find lots of places to join and network. The last boat I’ve been hitchhiking on, from Darwin to Reunion (thus far) was found by joining a group on Facebook called Indian Ocean Crossing. I simply posted what I was looking for, a boat heading west, and one of the members told me about this boat, and a few months later I was scheduled to be in Darwin to set sail. Here are some other Facebook Groups I’m a member of on Facebook:
- Sailing and Cruising
- Indian Ocean Crossing
- Sail Southeast Asia
- Sailing and Cruising for Sailors
- Pacific Sailing and Cruising
Be creative in your searches. There are sailing groups for just about every large body of water you want to cross.
Walking the Docks
I have done a little bit of this sort of thing, but so far have had little luck with it. But I met two guys in Tahiti who were hustling the docks and they seemed to have lots of success. They were very outgoing and gregarious and people typically loved them and their energetic attitude. Once again, selling yourself is half the battle and these guys were definitely good salesmen. I may have never gotten a boat from this method, but I have met a lot of great people who are sailing around the world this way and seen a lot of beautiful boats. This is a fun way to meet new people and get to know the community around you.
Word of Mouth
This is a great way to network and find boats. Either by walking the docks or by pinging your past captains, everybody touches people you don’t touch and maybe the next boat you get will be found by word of mouth. The boat I took from Panama to Tahiti was found by word of mouth. Paul
, the first skipper on this journey of mine, was in Aruba and he talked to a skipper who was staying in Aruba as well, and he found out that this skipper (Ted) was sailing on to New Zealand and was looking for some crew in Panama. Since I had just finished helping Paul get his boat to Aruba, Paul energetically shared my information with Ted and later emailed me about the conversation, so I also emailed Ted. A month later I was on a flight to Panama and later that week joined Ted ad his wife Jenny, and one other crew member, to cross the Panama Canal and then on to Ecuador and eventually Tahiti. So in this case, word of mouth was the best way for me to find a boat.
In conclusion, there are many ways to find boats. Websites, Facebook Groups, Walking the Docks, and Word of Mouth are just a few of them. Hopefully you’ll be able to find boats quickly and start your Global Hitchhiking in earnest! Keep an eye out for a book I’m writing called Global HitchHiking. It will cover all of this in much more detail. As always, I enjoy sharing pictures of my journey. I hope you like them.
To see the other 4 articles in this series about Global HitchHiking, click on the following links:
- Global HitchHiking I: Crewing Around The World On Sailboats
- Global HitchHiking II, Preparation for Sailing
- Global HitchHiking IV, Safety Considerations
- Global HitchHiking V, Additional Safety Considerations for Women