Ahoi! For many of us adventurers out there, to go sailing the world is one of those high-ticket items on the bucket list. The reality is, to go sailing on a budget is a lot easier than you may think!
Whether you want to go sailing for a weekend or try circumnavigating the globe, there are lots of boats all over the world looking for people, so with a bit of patience you will definitely find the right opportunity/adventure!
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My sailing adventures took me for a month around the Mediterranean, from the south of Spain towards Corsica and Sardinia and on this post I’ll give you my tips to make your own adventure a reality!
If you’re backpacking the world and want a change of landscape or have always been curious about how to go sailing the world, keep reading for all the details of my experience! which very briefly explained: it was awesome!
The info on this post works for anyone with an interest in joining a sailing boat, no matter if you have previous sailing knowledge or not.
Where to start?
Nowadays there are quite a few websites that specialise in linking boat owners with people with some or none sailing knowledge at all. Most of these sites require a membership but some can be used for free with premium features available if you wish to pay for them.
Among all the sites available, I created free profiles on findacrew.net and crewbay.com and after browsing for a few days I realised that crewbay had a larger amount of boats available all over the world (this is NOT and ad!) so very quickly I stopped checking the findacrew site.
The main thing I liked of the site was that the filtering is pretty good to find just recreational boats (not professional on my case) and also by location as for a few months I checked for boats when I was backpacking in Hawaii, Malta and finally during the lockdown in Romania.
A few months you said!?
Yeah, it took me a while to find the right boat…at first I wanted to leave Hawaii sailing but as it was winter time already all the boats that I was finding were just spending the season there waiting until spring time to depart.
Later on, when I arrived to Europe, I found a sailing boat in Portugal that was looking pretty good for what I was looking for but sadly all got cancelled just a few days before the covid-19 lockdown started.
Finally during the time we were all jailed at home, I was still contacting people as I was determined to go sailing! and I found this cool guy with a dream of a boat – The Challenger – that was planning to sail for a long time from the south coast of Spain around the Med and then circumnavigating the globe. Jackpot!
How to select the “right” sailing boat
This is something that I was very careful about when contacting people. My chain of thought was that if you’re staying at someone’s apartment and you don’t like them you can simply leave and find a hostel, but on a boat you really need to feel that everything is in the right place.
So, with every boat/captain that I started a conversation, not only I mentioned why I wanted to join and what skills I could bring on board but I also asked a lot of questions!
Among them: how long have you (the captain) been sailing? have you taken people from this site before? what do you expect me to do on board? what safety equipment there is on board? how many people will be on board? will you be able to teach me how to sail? and a long etcetera….
As an example, one of the conversations I had was actually a really cool trip from Portugal towards Cape Verde and beyond, but the impression I got from the captain on his replies was not good so I decided to keep looking.
Once you exchange a couple of mails and feel like this could be the adventure you are looking for, make sure to jump on a video call as well to get to know the captain a bit more.
How much does it cost to go sailing the world?
That depends on which part of the globe you are and what’s the purpose of the journey.
Many times the captains mention approximate budgets on their listings but always make sure to discuss this as you will find so many different ways of sailing, from the ultra-luxury to the ones that ask you to pay a daily set amount of money to the ones that offer all costs to be shared, which is what I did. There will be some looking to go partying to top destinations and others just looking to go as remote as possible.
Beware! on the sharing costs, many boat owners will also push for “maintenance” fees associated with the boat. So, again, make sure to discuss every single little detail! the only boat-related costs that I paid were petrol and marinas.
To give you an example, on my sailing month around the Med, we averaged 17 Euros per day, this included the food, petrol and marinas, which some of them in Spain were super expensive (think 80-150 Euros per night!!!). This was with a crew of 5.
Our plan was to keep the costs to a minimum, anchoring where possible and sailing as much as we could without using the engine, which we did use quite a lot as there were days of no winds at all. Don’t be fooled by the low cost! we eat like royalty many times and were never short of beers! well…maybe a couple of times we were short 😉
All in all, the month of sailing adventures was cheaper than backpacking in many budget-friendly countries!
Writing your profile as a newbie on crewbay
So, how do you with some or no experience at all get to be accepted by a captain!? not much science to be honest! just write on your profile your motivation to join a boat and mention what you can do to help on board (cooking, cleaning/maintaining the boat, DIY, language exchange, etc)
Don’t worry so much on this point, many boat owners are just looking for companionship and cool people to hang with, so if you’re adventurous enough to think of joining a sailing trip you already tick many boxes! 😉
On my personal case, I didn’t have any sailing experience at all apart from having gone many times fishing in my life, but no real knowledge of anything sailing-related. I ended up learning a lot of stuff in just a day on board of the Challenger! and kept learning every single day!
What do you need to go sailing?
That will depend on the time of the year and location…
For me it was enough with the equipment I’ve had in my rucksack during my backpacking adventures around the world. So I didn’t buy anything at all apart from seasickness pills, which happily I never had to use!
Don’t think that you have to buy “sailing gear”, you will do pretty much well with good hiking/outdoor gear, be prepared for hot and cold days and if in doubt you should definitely ask the captain on his/her advise!
Would I go sailing again after my month-long journey?
That’s a big fat YES for an answer!
On my sailing adventure we started near the Portugal/Spain border in the south, stopped at Gibraltar, Malaga, Almeria, Cartagena, Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca, Bonifaccio (Corsica) and Olbia (Sardinia). With some stunning anchoring spots in between!
I was lucky enough to be part of a great crew of wonderful people where everyone helped with all the tasks at hand and beautiful friendships were formed in no time.
What an incredible way to travel! even the few times we did night passages were incredible as the peaceful starry nights were only interrupted by lots of shooting stars and many days frequented by visits of dolphins and even an orca! Prepare to chill for days!
I’m not going to lie, do not think every single day is perfect, stuff happens, things get broken (two sails!!), there may be lots of waves just when you were planning to sleep, it can be hot, it can be cold…
But it’s all part of the adventure! this will be even more extreme in other parts of the world as the Mediterranean Sea is pretty calm in comparison with open oceans so always remember to be very flexible as your comfort zone will be tested repeatedly!
On the bright side…imagine those views while enjoying your morning coffee!
I hope this post helps you on your planning and feel free to drop a comment below if there’s something else you’d like to know!