Lately, we’ve been asked often by our friends and family: “Why are you going to crew on someone else’s sailboat instead of just buying your own?” (Check out our Panama Canal post to read more about who we’re crewing with across the Pacific Ocean.)
Great question. Here are several answers.
1) It’s cheaper. Crewing means that we will either: a) pay enough per day to cover our share of food and diesel (which we’d pay anyway if we had our own boat), b) get free passage in return for helping sail these boats, or c) maybe eventually get paid a little bit. Plus, once we crew our way west, we just might find a better deal on a used blue-water-capable boat in Thailand or Bali than in the U.S.
2) It’s safer. We aren’t experienced blue-water cruisers … yet. Sure, we’re both capable sailors and fast learners. But neither of us have sailed long passages, anchored near coral reef, or navigated complicated shipping channels. The best way to get up to speed and become experts on sailing in tropical waters or offshore is to learn the ropes first-hand from experienced captains.
3) It’s smarter. As our neighbor said when we explained the rationale for crewing the other night, “It’s basically like being engaged to make sure you want to get married.” Exactly. Why spend thousands of dollars on our own sailboat without making sure we really, really like being at sea for months on end first? Plus, this way we can test drive lots of sailboats to see what type fits us best. Basically, we’re planning to date boats for the next year or so.
4) It’s easier. Leaving our home, jobs and family for years is tough enough to prepare for. If we had to find a boat, outfit it, and learn all its ins and outs on top of that … well, let’s just say we’d be on the 10-year plan instead of the 2-year plan. Plus, getting our own boat means we’d have to sail across the largest ocean on the planet straight away, which seems like an overwhelming task to plan and execute right now. This way, we can get out of dodge faster and with a LOT less stuff to cart around the globe.
5) It’s an adventure. We like leaving room for flexibility in our travel schedule, both for meeting new people and for seizing opportunities as they arise. Neither of us are wedded to a set agenda, and crewing will give us the chance to let fate determine where we end up.
We’re still hoping to buy our own (used) boat one day. Meanwhile, we plan to enjoy the heck out of other people’s spiffy sailboats as we hop, skip and skim around the South Pacific.