Posts Tagged ‘sailing’

Photo Friday: Tonga
Friday, April 13th, 2012

Today’s Photo Friday was submitted by guest author Kelly Wetherington, who shared earlier this week about her experience  and tips on finding a crewing job in the South Pacific. This photo was taken in the Haapai Island group in Tonga.

Kelly writes about her sailing and other adventures at By the Seat of My Skirt.

Want to see your photo here? Check out our easy submission policy!

How to Land a Crewing Job at Sea
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Kelly Wetherington has been traveling “by the seat of her skirt” since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 25 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. On Monday, she shared the story of landing her first crewing job. Today, she explains how to find a crewing job at sea.

What to do to increase your chances of becoming crew

Learn as much as you can before you seek a position.

Go sailing, practice tying knots, familiarize yourself with yachtie terms.

Learning to sail is like learning to speak a foreign language. If you aren’t willing to ask the dumb questions like “What does to reef mean?” then you will never learn the lingo (reefing is taking in a sail).

— Hot bunking – what happens when there is more crew than beds. Rotating beds between watches.
— Sheet – ropes
— Starboard – right side of the boat
— Port – left side of boat
— Tack – change direction in reference to wind
— Bow – front of yacht
— Stern – back of yacht

What you can expect to learn aboard

— How to stay on course
— Steering
— Navigation
— How to tie many different knots
— Trimming Sails
— Jibbing
— How to scale and clean a fish
— How to get along well with others in very small spaces

Common crewing tasks

— Cooking
— Day/Night watches
— Assisting with adjusting sails
— Cleaning
— Boat Maintenance
— Fishing
— How to anchor
— Provisioning (grocery shopping, stocking up for months at a time)

What to bring with you

— Waterproof jacket and pants
— Fleece
— Crocs (I swore I never would, but they are useful and you should dress the part)
— Seasickness medication
— Sunscreen
— Hat
— Books
— Books on tape (for night watches)
— Headlamp with red light so you don’t wake others during the night
— Tolerance and an open mind

What to expect while at sea

— Hard work
— Adventures
— Beautiful sunsets
— Yachtie lifestyle is not as glamorous as you might think
— Be prepared to go for days/weeks without a shower
— Zero privacy
— BIG swells
— Seasickness
— Boredom

Crewing Seasons Around the World

South Pacific:  May-October

Caribbean – year round, but busiest season is October – March

Mediterranean – May – September

North Europe – June-September

How to choose the boat that is right for you

**It doesn’t matter the size or condition of a boat, the only thing that matters is that you like the other people on board.

If you do not get along well with someone on land, chances are you are going to have a lot of troubles at sea! Being tolerant of differences is key to surviving in a small confined space with diverse personalities and opinions.

**A seemingly normal person on land can transform into a totally different person at sea. It is the risk you take in the name of adventure!

Happy sails to you!

Crewing in the South Pacific
Monday, April 9th, 2012

Kelly Wetherington  has been traveling “by the seat of her skirt” since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 25 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. Today she shares the story of landing her first crewing job.

As I knock, knock, knocked on the window of a sleek catamaran with a shiny teak deck, I wondered, is this appropriate behavior? Had I been visiting a house, I would have knocked on the front door, but climbing aboard seemed intrusive. No one emerged from below deck. Maybe they were out, or sleeping, or simply don’t open the door for strangers?

I scribbled the boat’s name, Summer Sol, in my notebook, under the column “try again later,” next to growing list of boats that did not need crew. Surrounded by hundreds of masts from around the world, Thomas and I were hopeful we could find a Captain to take us with them to the South Pacific. We were walking the docks of Opua Marina in Bay of Islands, New Zealand. We had previously tried our luck in Auckland, the City of Sails, and Whangarei, all on the North Island, where yachts anchor and wait out the cyclone season November – May.

We were gaining recognition and support around the marina. “Did you find a boat yet?” the French captain asked us, who unfortunately already had his crew or would have taken us aboard. “Not yet!” I told him, and he wished us luck. To our dismay, we learned only two weeks prior, thirty yachts participating in a South Pacific rally had been looking for crew, but had since finalized their crew lists. With many things in life, it seemed you need to be in the right place at the right time to land a crewing job.

We were craving a big adventure, to go where few others have gone before, to explore remote islands, experience local cultures, and to learn something new … how to sail. Both avid kitesurfers, we love the sea and wind and hoped for the opportunity to ride the southeast trade winds by boat and kite board. Additionally, crewing on boats would allow us to travel very inexpensively and for longer. We were running out of the money after nine months on the road, but weren’t yet ready to go home.

We figured we could afford to sail around the islands for three months if we found work on a boat and lived frugally. While it is common for experienced crew to be paid, inexperienced crew are rarely paid and can expect to share in the cost of food and petrol (typically averaging only $5-15/day).

We were greeted with a variety of responses to our question “Are you looking for crew? An older gentleman eyed us suspiciously when I told him that we had never been on an ocean passage before (a.k.a. blue water sailing). He shook his head in disgust. “You guys are going to get so sick out there,” he said with a snarl, recounting an experience he had with a couple so connected and in love that that the minute one got sick the other soon followed, rendering them useless crew. He would be setting sail for Fiji in a week but hadn’t planned to take any crew. I didn’t understand how this was possible. “Don’t you need someone to keep watch so you can sleep?” One of the most common duties of crew is to keep watch throughout the day and night, typically in 3-4 hour shifts. While on watch it is your job to keep a look out for other boats (with sleeping captains), whales, and squalls. Another typical job of crew is to cook, steer, and assist in raising/trimming the sails and managing the jib.

The fact that Tom is a dude made our search harder than anticipated. Many captains accept “Female Crew Only” having no qualms explaining this with a straight face. Gender preference/discrimination is an apparent norm in yachtie culture; despite the nautical superstition that women are bad luck on boats since boats are considered to be female and having another woman on board could make that boat jealous! As disturbing as it was for me to imagine being alone at sea with one of these salty dogs, I could understand their preference. Life is short, why not be surrounded by pretty ladies if you can?

We joked that the only way we were going to get on a boat was to find a female captain, a seemingly unlikely scenario, until we heard about HER. “Her boat’s called Wonderland,” a skipper told us in a strong Aussie drawl, “and she is looking for crew.” Since no one knew her name, we decided to call her Alice, and we were determined to sail with her.

As we wandered aimlessly in search of Alice, I felt I would know her when I saw her. And I did. As we approached a group of yachties, I noticed a woman whose broad stance and strong demeanor contradicted her white hair and aging skin.

Her name was Evi, a 70-year old retired college professor from Colorado who single handedly sails offshore, but prefers to have crew claiming it makes her journey more fun. She suggested we go somewhere to talk and asked us to tell her three strengths and three weaknesses. She wondered if either of us were modest, an important question I would learn later.

We bounced along in her dingy, salt water splashing my clothes as we approached Wonderland, a 40-foot sloop. We climbed aboard ducking as we climbed down the stairs into the dark cabin. Fresh fruit and veggies hung from tiny hammocks above the berths. I was startled by the lack of space, “the boat sleeps four but there will be five of us” she confirmed. We would be forced to “hot bunk,” rotating beds between watch shifts.

She handed me a large glass mason jar.While at sea, you will pee inside this and dump overboard,” she explained as nonchalantly as you would point the direction to the nearest toilet. With determination, I prevented my internal reaction of horror from surfacing to my face. Thomas would later say he would have paid good money to know what was going through my mind at that very moment.

She also informed us there was no shower on the yacht. No big deal, I thought. I was no stranger to “roughing it” having lived in a campervan called Octopus the previous two months and having been a “dirty backpacker” throughout years of travel. If anyone could “pop a squat” over a mason jar, it was me. I understood why modesty was not allowed on board.

With nervous excitement for the unknown, we set sail for Tonga! Wonderland became our self-contained world during the 16-days it took us to us to reach land.

We continued our adventure for three months (May-August), on three very different yachts. Our sailing adventure took us to the many islands of Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu. It was much easier to find our second and third crewing jobs having had the experience of a long ocean passage under our belts.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Check back on Wednesday as Kelly shares her tips for finding a crewing job in the South Pacific. In the meantime, you can follow Kelly’s adventures on Twitter or Facebook.

Barbara & Elizabeth Pagano’s Sailing Sabbatical
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

[singlepic=1664,250,,,right]Barbara Pagano & Elizabeth Pagano are the mother-daughter team behind yourSABBATICAL – a firm that partners with businesses to deploy programs that attract, retain and accelerate top talent through the use of highly planned and structured leaves of absences. In 2001, they took their own leave of absence during a 6-month sailing sabbatical that set them on a new course for their lives. “Our sabbatical has had lasting effects. Today, our business partnership thrives, in part, because of our co-captaining experience.” Here they share with us the importance of that sabbatical.

What made you decide to take a sabbatical?
Each of us had different reasons. For me, life was good – but predictable. I had been successful in my career, had a nice home and marriage; yet I wanted to put myself in a challenging situation to “see if I could do it.” My daughter, Elizabeth, was in her mid-30s and had a string of life and career questions stretching in front of her. She hoped that time away might offer clarity… and maybe even answers.

What were you doing beforehand career-wise?
As an executive coach to leaders worldwide, I was busy with corporate client initiatives on leadership and developing a reputation as a facilitator and speaker. Elizabeth was a newspaper reporter before spending a few years working for her father’s manufacturing business.

What was your sailing experience like prior to your break?
This question always makes us laugh! We had sailed for 15+ years as second-mates and galley queens with my husband, Herb. We’d never handled a boat alone and certainly never sailed at night. So, Elizabeth went to a week of sailing school in Key West, and I went to navigation school (and flunked the test).

We practiced docking for a couple of days and watched the mechanic change the engine oil once. Seriously, we weren’t very experienced, and we knew we’d learn a lot along the way. But we had confidence in our ability to learn quickly, and we promised people we’d make good decisions. We put a whole lot of books on “bad weather sailing” and “boat systems” onboard, just in case!

Desire outranks skill and experience. If you really want to do something, you’ll learn what you need to know.


Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Need some inspiration on Italy? Check out some of Sherry Ott’s posts about her Italian experiences on OttsWorld. And you can use this useful Italy Travel Guide as another resource for your travels in Italy.

[singlepic=1260,200,,,right]Maps, Loose Wine, and Nudity – Adventures in Venice!
After traveling with David for 7 days – we have fallen into our travel groove. I think everyone we meet thinks that we are a couple as we are constantly bickering about things. Don’t get me wrong…the fun kind of bickering…not the ‘ball and chain’ bickering. So – we kind of fell into the acceptance of people thinking that we were a couple and didn’t really try to explain things unless people asked. So there was no better person to experience Venice, the most romantic city in the world, than with my gay boyfriend. Read More


Galapagos Islands & Ecuador
Monday, January 5th, 2009

[singlepic=876,150,,,right]In April of 2004, I traveled with two girlfriends to one of the most unique destinations in the world – the Galapagos Islands.  This small corner of the world is completely unique to anywhere else, and each island is so distinct from the next.

[singlepic=887,150,,,left]Whether we were exploring the area by land or sea with Gap Adventures, every day brought new surprises – the half-ton sting rays catapulting themselves into gravity-defying flips; the multitudes of dolphins leading the way for our boat; the graceful sea turtles peaking up to the surface; the blue-footed boobies cartoonish mating dance; puffed-up frigate birds courting the females; massive bull sea lions charging at each other over territory; fairy penguins darting about us underwater; playful sea lions curiously investigating our snorkel gear; brightly colored sally-lightfoot crabs darting over the rocks; and stone-faced iguanas warming up under the sun were just a few of the surreal experiences we encountered.


Australia: Overview Video
Monday, December 8th, 2008

Michael and I traveled to Australia as part of our 2007 career break. The following is a video overview of our experience.

Text Version: Our first destination was Australia.  Approximately the same size as the United States, with only 7% of the population, most of the landscape is made up of arid desert. Not surprisingly, the majority of the residents live along the 22,000 miles of coastline where most tourists tend to flock as well.

With just three weeks we wanted to make the most of our time and experience as much diversity as possible – from cities and seas to sand dunes and deserts.


Australia: Whitsunday Islands/Great Barrier Reef
Monday, December 8th, 2008

Michael and I traveled to Australia as part of our 2007 career break. The following is an excerpt from our travel blog.

Another bright and early day as we set off from the Hervey Bay area and headed south to Brisbane via train.  Four hours later and we were awaiting our flight north to Proserpine.  From there a shuttle bus took us to Airlie Beach.  And then we made our way by foot to Abel Point Marina.  By sunset we were on a catamaran and ready to set sail for the Whitsunday Islands.  After so much movement in our first week, we were looking forward to anchoring ourselves in one spot for three days – even if our home was moving itself.

One of my favorite experiences from my last visit was sailing the Whitsundays, and I wanted Michael to experience it as well.  And Michael was really looking forward to diving the Great Barrier Reef.  With our tight schedule, we were uncertain if we could squeeze both in, but luckily our boat, the Pacific Star, cruised the Whitsundays and motored out to the outer reef for diving and snorkeling.  Perfectly timed.  Now we hoped the weather would cooperate.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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