11 Tips skippers needs to know to find the right crew
Updated: May 25
Most skippers experienced challenges to find the right crew, and this article is a selection of the best practices and advice collected while talking to boat owners and skippers in North America.
The 11 best practices to find and keep your crew:
Plan in advance
Explain and describe your sailing plan
Define the type of crew you need
Be proactive to find the right crew
Talk to the potential crew. Learn to know each other in advance
A nice and clean boat when your new crew jumps on board!
Prepare for the boating event
Build a team
Ask for feedback – Debrief your experience
Tip #1 for skippers to find the right crew: Plan in advance!
We all know that anticipation is the key to success on many occasions. Well, the same applies to boating. If you want to find a crew for mid-July, don’t wait for July 10 to start your search. Plan and start talking to your network, your friends, and your family much earlier. Most people do not have much time off and need time to plan vacations or breaks. Use social media and crew finder services like coboaters.com to connect with potential crew members.
Tip #2: Explain and describe your sailing plan.
The right crew for the right event! People have different skills and motivations. A good crew for a weekday race may not be right for a long cruise or for a weekend trip. The better you describe what you want to do the best chance you have to find the right crew. Be as accurate as possible with your departure dates and arrival dates, your sailing program, your destination, and your goal. Do you want to perform or do you want to take your time and take it easy?
It is important that skippers share their navigation style with the crew as early as possible.
Tip #3: Skippers must define the crew you really need.
Answer the following questions:
Do you need an experienced sailor or will you be happy to teach everything to a beginner?
Do you need a powerboat expert?
I often see a very vague request like “I am looking for a crew to go to this place next weekend”. This is not enough. If you publish this kind of request, you are likely to waste your time answering questions over and over. You will be unhappy and will probably not find the right match. Be accurate right at the beginning. You may hurt some feelings but in the end, you will have the right persons on board.
Tip #4: Be proactive to find the right crew
Do not wait for others to get in touch with you.
Go ahead and communicate with as many people as possible.
Prepare answers to questions. The best way is to fill up a boater profile online or to have a sailing resume or a description of your trip ready to be sent and share. The best is to use a crew finder network where you can post pictures of your boat and describe the boat and your experience.
Tip #5: Talk to the potential crew. Learn to know each other in advance
Hurray! Someone contacted you and is ready to come aboard. The best advice is to take time to talk to the person and respond to all the questions.
Clarify your needs and plans as we explained earlier.
Crew seekers need to feel safe with you and your boat, you must bring confidence and show your crew that the boat is safe.
Explain why you know how to manage the experience.
Make sure the potential crew member understands your expectations and shares your goals.
Tip #6: Be honest.
Talk openly about your boat and your skills. For example, It is better to say upfront that you are not confident with a night sail. And of course, you must ask for the same honesty from the crew. Ask right away if there is any concern. Some people may have experienced seasickness. It may not be an issue if you know it in advance and you are ready with the right medicine and best practice.
Tip #7: Safety First.
No discussion! We all know that safety comes first. Make sure your boat is properly equipped and that you have the necessary safety gear for the number of people on board. Tell your crew where safety types of equipment are located. Ask if they have questions and explain what you expect them to do in case of emergency. If you go for a long trip, it is a good idea to practice a man overboard exercise.
Tip #8: A nice and clean boat when your new crew jumps on board!
The first impression is very important. Make sure your boat is clean and ready when your crew arrives. If you cannot wash it or if it is not fully ready, the best solution is to warn your crew in advance. Avoid disappointment and build confidence. Make sure the motor is ready, sails are set, and ready to be hoisted. Have some tea, coffee, or drink so you can enjoy time with the new crew upon arrival. Give time to the new person to adapt and to feel good about the boat.
Tip #9: Prepare for the boating event
You do not need the same clothes and apparel if you go for a few days' sail or an offshore passage. Make sure you are ready for the event and that your crew is prepared as well. Communicate in advance with your crew the list of things they need to get. Do not be shy, you are the skipper and the organizer. They rely on you. You must be ready to answer their questions and give them advice based on your experience and your boat.
Tip #10: Build a team
Noting better than team spirit on board even for a short sail.
The captain must make sure crew members work together and share things to do on board.
Celebrate success, especially with beginners. You will live in a very small space for some time, building a good team will help everyone and you are likely to see your crew come back on board with you.
Tip #11: Ask for feedback – Debrief your experience
At the end of a trip, it is good practice to take time to talk about what went well and what did not go so well. If you can, share a last drink on board before going ashore and ask your crew to explain what they will remember and what they liked about the journey. If you use a crew finder site like coboaters.com you can ask them to publish reviews and ask them if they want you to publish reviews on their profiles. It helps everyone and will help you as a skipper.
Takeaways to find the best crew
It is up to you to find the best crew. It is not always easy and requires some work and action. Remember to plan ahead, be prepared, and get feedback. Share your experience and pictures. Your goal is probably to find regular crew members who will become your best friends. After the event, keep in touch with them and continue building your sailing network.