INFO ON CREWING
love to have people come join us for short or long passages, or
bumming around exotic
places. On this page, we give a few pointers to let prospective
crew members know what to expect. And even if you don't plan to
come crew with us, but might crew with somebody else, these pointers
might be useful.
We can always
use another hand aboard, so look in Future
Plans for a place you want to see or an adventure you want to
share in, and come join us!
Deal. Our financial arrangement with crew members is
simple: You pay your way to wherever we are meeting you, then we
pay for everything once you're aboard. In return, we expect you
to pitch in with the daily chores, routine maintenance, and other
projects that arise. When in port, we generally spend an hour or
two in the morning doing these chores, before going into town. Ashore,
everybody does their own thing and pays their own way. We're
really easy about where we're going and when, and within the realm
of possibility we'll take Akka where you want to go (or stay where
we are if you don't want to leave).
coming as a guest, not crew (for example, if we're not going anywhere
while you're with us), we'll expect you to share expenses (mainly
food). Regardless of your status, we'll almost certainly ask you
to bring our mail and some parts for the boat.
We always arrange
in advance when we'll meet, but the location is frequently imprecise
until the last moment -- a day or so before you fly, we'll tell
you exactly where and how to meet us. This means you might have
some additional cost for a bus, train or ferry, but it also means
that we never have to put to sea (or stay at sea) in potentially
dangerous conditions just in order to meet somebody at a specific
time and place.
If you want
to learn more about any aspect of cruising and sailing that's new
to you, please let us know. We love the life we are leading, and
are glad to teach -- but won't do so unless you ask..
Bring. Bring everything in duffels or soft-sided luggage. There's
no washer or dryer aboard Akka, so bring enough clothes to last
you for any passage we take. On the other hand, space for spare
clothes is limited, and when we're offshore we tend to wear the
same clothes for several days at a time, often sleeping in them.
We provide all towels and bed linens.
In warm weather
we go barefoot aboard Akka, but unless you're really sure of yourself
you'll want a pair of sneakers or boat shoes to wear aboard, and
a different pair of shoes to wear ashore. Nobody is allowed to come
into the cabin wearing shoes they've worn off the boat, because
the dirt and/or pebbles caught in the soles would ruin the 6+ coats
of varnish we've painstakingly put on the cabin sole. Offshore in
cold weather, we've found that ordinary hiking/camping boots are
the best kind of footwear -- they keep your feet toasty warm, shed
water, and are comfortable. A pair of good comfortable Teva-type
sandals are excellent for going ashore, in all weather.
Even in warm
climates, evenings can be chilly (especially offshore), so you should
bring a synthetic sweater or fleece jacket and a hat. Of course,
if we're going to be anywhere cold, you'll need a few more warm
things, but only bring one of each thing -- we have spare warm clothes
on board to lend you if yours get wet. Synthetic fleece is far better
for warmth than cotton, and better than wool because when it gets
wet it dries easily. However, you might bring a few long-sleeved
T-shirts, either to wear by themselves in warm weather or under
a sweater or fleece jacket when it gets cold..
that protect you from the sun. We wear baseball caps and have plenty
of spares to lend, but you may prefer a hat with a brim all round.
A long-sleeved shirt and pants are essential. Please bring your
own sunscreen. We have found Coppertone Sport, SPF 30 or 45, to
be the best. It is water- and sweat-proof, so one slather does you
for all day. Bring UVA/UVB protective sunglasses and, especially
if you wear prescription sunglasses, get a pair of "Croakies"
to hang them around you neck.
of where we are sailing, you'll need foul-weather gear. We have
some spares on board, so check with us before buying. If you do
buy any, get a pair of cheap, durable PVC pants at West Marine,
Boat US, or elsewhere, then go buy yourself a nice Goretex or other
waterproof but breathable windbreaker jacket (with a tuck-away hood)
that comes down past your waist. The jacket will be expensive, but
will last forever,and looks nice on land. Don't buy a high-end foulweather
jacket unless you're planning to do a lot of sailing at home, or
are made of money.
We won't be
going anywhere that requires nice clothes, unless you're buying!
A wrinkle-proof frock for an evening ashore is the most any woman
aboard Akka needs, and for men, a golf shirt (with collar) and khaki
slacks will do both aboard and ashore.
favorite remedy for seasickness. Andi, who used to get violently
sick every time we left port, uses Transderm Scop, a patch you stick
on behind your ear that slowly delivers Scopolomine into your bloodstream.
She hasn't been sick -- not once -- since she started using it,
and there are no noticeable side effects. We do not recommend Dramamine
as it makes you sleepy and unresponsive -- dangerous qualities for
offshore work, and not a lot of fun for enjoying the scenery. There
are other options, though we're not familiar with them.
Akka is a pretty commodious boat, but still, you shouldn't expect
much real privacy. When we're in port, we (Andi and Rob) sleep in
the forward cabin. There's a huge single bunk (or minimal double
bunk) in the aft cabin, and that cabin can be shut off from the
rest of the boat, affording some privacy. The two other berths for
crew are in the main saloon, which is also the area where the cooking,
writing, reading, talking, navigating, and general living is done.
All the bunks are big for one person -- more than 6' 3" (1.9
offshore, half the crew is always on deck, so the off watch sleeps
in the saloon and aft cabin, except for downwind sailing in nice
weather, when the forward cabin is the berth of choice.
is large, well-equipped (stove, oven, microwave, fridge and freezer)
and we enjoy cooking, so meals together (at least one meal a day)
are a big deal, even offshore. You'll need to let us know about
any food allergies and preferences, dietary restrictions, etc. in
advance so we can plan around them.
There are 2
heads, each with a shower, plus an on-deck fresh water shower. We
carry 200 gallons (800 liters) of fresh water to meet all of our
drinking and washing needs, so if we're away from marinas for extended
periods we watch water consumption carefully. We'll teach you our
conservation tricks and techniques.
like to go offshore? The first time offshore is an experience
never to be forgotten, and it can be addictive (look at us). When
planning a passage, we carefully gather as much weather information
to try to avoid putting ourselves in the path of bad weather. This
means that departure dates and itineraries are always "guesstimates"
as we assess conditions. Of course, because weather is unpredictable,
the best planning can be wrong, but Akka is big, well-found, and
well-maintained, so even in the worst weather there's nothing to
be afraid of. On the other hand, when we're out of sight of land
we're pretty much on our own, and if we're more than about 200 nautical
miles offshore (beyond the range of land-based helicopters) we're
truly on our own. The ocean is vast, and even when we leave at nearly
the same time as other cruisers, we almost never see them again
until we get to our destination. It's pretty amazing.
There is nothing
as grand as a sunrise at sea, with no land in sight. Starlit nights
are awesome, too.
serve watches, meaning that at all times some crew members (the
watchkeepers) are awake and responsible for the boat while the others
(the offwatch) sleep. When we have at least three experienced crewmembers
aboard (including Andi and Rob) we serve a three-watch rotation,
with each watch serving 3 or 4 hours on, then 6 or 8 off. When we
have inexperienced crew we use a two-watch system, serving equal
times on and off, with Andi and Rob taking opposite watches, each
with a crew member. The nominal length of our watches is 3 or 4
hours, depending on the conditions; but we don't expect crew members
to report for their watches until they're called. That way, if the
watchkeepers feel rested and comfortable, or if they know that the
offwatch has not had much sleep, they have the option of extending
their watch by an hour or so and giving the offwatch some more sleep.
We have a strict
chain of command overall, from Skipper (Rob) through First Mate
(Andi) down to Deck Hand, Common (that would be you); but each watch
has a watch captain, who is in charge of the boat while he or she
is on watch. When you come on deck, look around to see who's in
charge, so you know where to expect orders to come from -- even
if Rob is on deck, he may not have relieved the watch captain, and
so may not be in charge. This idea of control is absolutely vital
for the safety of the boat and its crew, and we take it seriously
-- to the point that the new watch captain always formally takes
control, saying to the previous watch captain, "I relieve you."
The previous captain never leaves his post until relieved.
Being on watch
is generally not very strenuous, thanks in large part to the autopilot
which, once set up, steers the boat to a compass course. Every 5
minutes, one of the watchkeepers stands up and does a full search
of the horizon, checks the wind and sail trim, and the autopilot
performance. Once in a while, the watch captain goes below to the
nav station, checks position and speed, other systems (e.g., battery
voltage), and makes a log entry if anything of note has occurred.
Other than that, the watchkeepers can read, adjust the fishing gear,
nap, or simply daydream. Of course, if you want to steer, you're
welcome to do so.
On long passages,
the enemy is exhaustion. None of us are used to getting our sleep
in 3- or 4-hour bites, and for the first day nobody gets enough
sleep, so for the next day or two everybody is exhausted. The way
to solve this problem is to sleep every minute you can, when you're
off watch, until your body adapts to the new schedule. When you're
on watch, think about doing routine chores such as washing dishes
or preparing the next meal, so those activities won't take away
from somebody's valuable sleeping time.
Sometimes, all crew are needed on deck (usually
to change sails due to a change in wind speed or direction), disrupting
the watchkeeping schedule. When that happens, we generally institute
a shorter watch rotation at first -- say, 1-hour watches, then 2
hours, then back to 3 or 4 hours when everybody's had a chance to
get some sleep.
Safety at sea. We're
very conscious of safety. Akka has lots of safety equipment, and
we'll explain it all to you when you arrive on board. Every crew
member is provided with an inflatable life jacket/safety harness
with a tether that attaches to the boat. These harnesses are worn
by all crew whenever they're on deck alone, or at night, or in heavy
weather, or any other time they feel safer with them on. Of course,
if you have your own life jacket and/or harness, you're welcome
to bring them along and use them instead of ours.
The bottom line. One
of the pleasures of our cruising lifestyle is to have people join
us and share the fun as well as the sailing. Most of your time aboard,
when we're not offshore, will be spent doing things you like to
do, from reading to snorkeling to wandering through exotic ports.
So pick a date, book a plane, and come with us on our next adventure!