By doing this website my goal is to share informations but mainly the orphanage project.

Boat hitch-hiking

boat hitch hiking 1For hitch-hiking by boat follow the same rules of communication as for car hitch-hiking. As for hitch-hiking car, you have to go where people owning boat stops, as to say harbor. Hitch hiking boat however have a fundamental difference with cars hitch-hiking, that is the fact that your target actually need you. On the sailing world, a crew isn’t a stable thing, it change all the time.
The most common reason would be sickness, sea sickness, psychological problem, injuries but mainly, relationships problem. Relationship problems on a boat are more than common, if you think of it, a boat is a small area where people live 24h/24h together. In addition to this it is a tiring activity and capitains generally have really strong characters!
As a result, many boat making a stop in an harbor look for some new crew members.

How to choose a place to start?

Look on internet or ask. if you are hitch-hiking by car to reach an harbor, ask to the driver where is the biggest harbor for sailing boat. Sailing boat hitch hiking 2harbor are different than industrial harbor with container etc…
If you have internet or the possibility to go in different big sailing harbor, go to the ones known to be the normal step before going to the next sailing harbor on the way to your destination.
If you don’t just go to the harbor you found and there you will have to ask for boat to go to a big harbor! you can also stay there and wait for a lucky ride. The good thing about staying in small harbor is that you will be the only hitch-hiker. The fact is that there is a lot more boat hitch-hiker than you probably think. As a result, if you don’t have any experience at sailing, it might be the best place for you. If you don’t have any experience you will still be really usefull on a boat, to do the watch and other simple tasks. if you are a girl or if you have some experience, then if you have the possibility, go to a big harbour, you will get a ride for sure.


boat hitch hiking 3In big cities near the coast, there is often different sailing harbor, some of them are near facilities others are almost in the town some are near the center, well, it depend on the town!
The ones near facilities and not in town are the ones where people stop just for using those facilities. They do shopping, fill the fuel tank, fill the water tank, repair something broken on the boat, etc.. They could also have problem with some of their crew member for differents reasons.
This type of harbor is the best place to get a fast ride because this an unschedule stop and they will try to leave as soon when they will have fixed their problem.
The ones in big town are the ones where people stop because they want to see the town, have night life, visit, do shopping, etc… This also the stopping place of boat with big problems, they go their to find or receive particular pieces. Therefore, those harbor are the one with people staying for a long time, if you choose this location, there will be a lot of boat but most of them will leave in long time. It could be a good choice if you want to take your time and visit some places around or go for party while hitch-hiking.

First contact?

boat hitch hiking 4Most of pontoons entrances, the place where boats are parked, are closed and needs a magneticcard to enter.
Your objective is to meet every people owning or working on a boat, if the pontoons are open, then just go around and talk with them when they are on shore or on their boat. You have to think that most of them have been on the sea for a while before coming here and will not stay all day long on their boat. The best time is the morning 8h-12h and before night 16h-19h because this is the time where they take shower, clean the boat, eat or prepare food, etc…
If their in one entrance to the pontoon and it is close, a good place to stay is near the door because every people going in and out will pass there!
If entrance to pontoons are closed, then, the best place to stay is near the office because people who just entered in the harbor have to register there, get their magnetic card and the one leaving the harbor will have to go there to give back the cards etc… In addition to this, you will be the first one to meet people arriving and, you will meet people leaving, that is to say people who know already a lot of people on the harbor, as well as their need… They can give you good information and contact. It can be a bit boring to stay at the office but if there is particular moment of the day when it it’s good to be there it is the morning because you will get all the people who arrive at night and in the morning in the harbor. if you don’t like to wait there, just walk around, ask to people walking along the harbor. Try to enter on pontoons when someone is going in or out of it, you could then go and ask to people staying on their boat.

The technics describe above don’t need to spend any money and are definitely enough. However, one of the best way to find a crew is to meet sailor at the sailing bar, their is always a bar near harbors where every sailor come for a good beer after a long trip.

boat hitch hiking 5Why do people would want to take you?

Some will because they need a minimum number of crew members.
Some will because they think you are nice and will take you even if they already have enough crew.
Some will because you will make their life easier on the boat either because of your good mood or because of certain skills like language talken. But also by sharing tasks and expenses. Usually expenses are shared between the crew members. Common expenses are generally fuel, water, food, price of the marina to let the boat at a bowl or at the peer. If the boat is at the peer, depending on the Marina you may have to pay water and electricity in addition on the parking.

Will you have to pay?

It depend on the type of displacement. If it is a boat with its crew travelling around in kind of holiday, world trip, etc… you will generally have to share the expenses for food, port taxes and fuel. Fuel is use when their is no wind and they boat hitch hiking 6don’t want to wait, but also for the generator producing electricity on the boat, also for going in and out harbors or other things relate to displacement. Port taxes are the price of parking, electricity and water, the price is variable between marinas and is relate to boat size. Generally it cost between 10$ and 60$. If you are ask to pay, it will generally be of an amount of 8$ to 20$ a day.

If it is a charter boat, it depend, you could have to pay the normal price for sailing practice, getting miles to be able to pass sailing diploms like skipper, yachtmaster, etc… If you go there as a customer you would have to pay a lot but, if you take the place of a dismissing customer you would have to pay nothing (because the dismissing customer would have already pay for his participation).

If it is a delivery, the owner is at the destination and want the skipper and his crew to deliver the boat to where he is. In this type of sailing, all the expenses are paid by the owner, you are actually most of the time pay for it. The revenue for a delivering crew is variable, it could be paid by miles done, or by month or as a forfait with a fix price. This very variable but to give you an idea, you could be paid around 2000 euros per month for this type of jobs. To do this kind of sailing you most of the time need to be quite experienced.

boat hitch hiking 8What will be your task on the boat?

Every tasked are shared unless there is an unlucky victim or a slave on board! This means cooking, doing the dishes, cleaning the shared part of the boat (cockpit, deck, galley, saloon), doing the watches. Watches are at night, you have to look if there is boat (or iceberg!) around, look at the sail. Depending on your experience you could change the direction or the sail disposition or you could have to wake up an other crew member capable of doing it.
Watches are of various lenght but generally a watch is worst 2-3h. By day there is generally everytime someone on desk or on the cockpit and therefore watches aren’t applied. Depending on the boat you could also be ask to take the wheel for the case if there is no automatic pilot or if the weather is so bad that the autopilot can’t manage the direction.

What will make them take you and not another one?

boat hitch hiking 7-You want to learn some sailing, you aren’t just going on a boat to do nothing and reach your destination.
-You are positive; someone everytime in a bad mood is unbearable on a boat.
-You are energic and able to stay calm in the worst situation.
-You can speak their language or some english.
-You can speak the language of the country of destination; you will therefore be able to help them to communicate when they will reach it.
-You are good at cooking.
-You are able to do long watches at night.
-It is obviously a plus if you have at least a first sailing experience; if you don’t have any, you will get a lot of negative answer, but, everytime, you should ask to your interlocutor if he could take you for a short ride whenever he goes around with his boat for an afternoon. This will give you the opportunity to have a first sailing experience.
-No sea sickness. If you don’t have any experience, try to get a ride as said above to know a bit more your condition at sea. However, even if you get sea sick, it might be the case just for a few hours or a day. It could also happen after a while without any problems at sailing. Even some great boat hitch hiking 9sailor have sometime sea sickness.
-Say whathever you think could be a plus on a boat. For example if you did some climbing you can say you got a good equilibrium and don’t fear the high. if you know how to read a compass, if you know some knots, etc…
-If you can play music it can also be a plus to make a good ambiance on the boat.
-If you did some studies, it can show that you are educated or have skills in other fields.
-While sailing you drink a lot of tea and coofee. Therefore it can be a good idea to carry different kind of those, it will always be appreciate! same goes for spices or other ingredients showing that you will make them discover new tastes.


Now you know what sailor are looking for in a crew member, you also know the place to go to hitch-hike, the next step is to give you more opportunity to show to these people how nice you are!
For this you can use different kinds of communications:

Put some poster with your picture so that people meeting you on the street already have an idea of who you are. Put a short description of yourself, your destination, your skills and your contact (telephone + e-mail). The e-mail is quite important because many sailor are travelling all around the world and it is not a good option for them to use a phone with all the taxes depending on the country of residence.
You can make small cards with your name and contact, to give to every people who know someone who might know someone who might be interested in your candidature!

boat hitch hiking 10You should try to meet the more sailors and hitch-hikers as possible to make communication faster. Between hitch-hiker there is some competition but generally the first one who find a boat needing a crew try for himself and if it isn’t working he will give the contact of other hitch-hiker. It happen really often as most of the time boats owner are looking for a specific kind of person. it could be a couple, someone with experience, a guy, a girl, someone who speak this particular language and obviously someone who is going to the same destination. It would be annoying for them to take an hitch-hiker to the next harbor where they would have to drop him and start again the crew quest.
Try to have recommandation letter or people knowing you so that the crew seeker can ask question about your comportement or having a better idea of it.

Meanwhile hitch-hiking try to stay on a boat, you will already be in the “sailor territory”, you will meet people at the pontoon, on their boat etc… They have the opportunity to see you on a boat and this could be a great add of confidence toward you.

To do so, if you arrive to this harbor on a boat, try to stay on it as long as you are searching for another one. If you arrive by land you can ask to every boat owner if they need any help on their boat, cleaning duty, reparation etc… There is always something to do on a boat and if you get good contact by helping them, first of all you will learn more about boats functionment and then it is more likely that they will ask you to stay on their boat. It happens really often and mostly with charter boat.
A charter boat is a boat with a skipper taking people to a destination in exchange of remuneration, this is a kind of boat lesson. Those customers pay a forfait for exemple 5000 euros for a month of sailing. They pay to practice, get some more experience and, because it is quite expensive, the boat have to be clean and be in good condition for their arrival. Most of the time charter boat plan their trip to take people to an harbor, have one week to clean and fix everything and then, new customers he will take to the next harbor arrive etc… Because they are generally alone to fix and clean everything, they will be pleased to receive any help and therefore they are your best chance to get host on a boat.
Apart from them, everybody needing help or having a good contact with you is a potential person to host you.
You can also use internet, their is a lot of website where people look for cream member. Here are a few of them:

By using those websites you would get caught quite easily if you got some experience or if you schedule this trip a long time before the departure.

Girl hitch-hiking?

Your chance are a lot higher to get caught even without experience. It might be because they are attracted by you but most of the time it is more for a question of parity, they try to have about the same number of girl and boy. If they seem to be interested only by your physic, be clear since the begining and say that you aren’t interested or you have a boyfriend waiting for you at the destination or whatever that could make them understand that you aren’t going to sleep with them!

Pirogue hitch-hiking?

On jungle environment with lots of river it is quite nice to travel by pyrogue hitch-hiking. It is also really usefull when you are lost in the jungle and you find a river. Well there isn’t a special technic to do so, indian using pirogue are generally so nice that they will stop for you any way, if not just make them huge sign! It is also a good way to get invited in an isolated village. However for low height jungle, with big rivers constituting the only way of displacement, as for the car and other types of hitch-hiking, you should  be sure that they understand that you are hitch-hiking and therfore don’t expect to pay. This part isn’t really usefull as there isn’t really a technic but it is just to notify the fact that is a possibility and a really nice one while travelling!

Commercial boat hitch-hiking?

Commercial boats stops in harbour, to get caught it is the same as for sailing boat, contact. However if the contact is made harder because you don’t speak the language, just show that you will help a lot by helping anyone around you, this will also create good contact and the people you help could talk in their language to the capitain.


This website has been developped to share informations but mainly to allow the orphanage expansion.


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