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Photo above and feature photo by sharkbait.

If you can get some hardy sea legs, you could be seeing the rest of the world.

I COULD HAVE FLOWN to Europe. I could have hopped a budget long-haul and touched down in Cyprus a day or two after leaving Australia.

Instead I found myself diving the Maldives, dodging pirates off Yemen and sailing up the Suez Canal. Some extreme cruise ship? Nope, this was a yacht delivery.

Sailing the seas beats being crushed into cattle-class airline seats every time, especially if you’ve got some time up your sleeve and an eye for adventure.

But hold on, I hear you say – sailboats, not to mention yachts are freaking expensive.

So here’s a little tip: the best yachts are other people’s yachts. Most private yacht owners prefer to spend their downtime anchored up in the company of wives, husbands, partners or good buddies, or day-hopping along the coast.

But for those grueling trips between continents that make up a large part of circumnavigation, more help is required.

Photo by zeandroid.

Smaller private yachts in the 25-70ft range regularly engage delivery crew for longer passages to help share the workload and for the savvy traveler, this same voyages represent a fantastic way to put some miles under your belt.

Often you’ll be asked to contribute nothing more than a keen attitude and a willingness to learn.Other captains ask for a donation toward food or fuel, but even this is pretty reasonable when compared to the cost of an airline ticket.

Some more prosperous yacht owners will even fly you to where the yacht is located and home again afterward.

The trick to picking up a trip across the ocean is to locate yourself where yachties embark from

The trick to picking up a trip across the ocean is to locate yourself where yachties embark from. Several destinations around the world are established jumping off points for cruising sailors, such as Panama, Phuket, Gibraltar, Fremantle, St Maarten, San Diego, Cape Town, Auckland and Darwin.

If you find yourself in such a location, head down to the local yacht club office. Each spot has established seasons each year when sailors depart, depending on the weather and they can often put you in contact with boats seeking crew.

The key to landing a successful delivery position is to make yourself a desirable crew member.
Don’t know how to sail? Yacht clubs around the world offer introductory classes and are often thrilled to have new members join their weekend races.

There’s no quicker way to learn sailing than having a captain screaming at you from the cockpit while you slip about on the bow. A couple months of racing will have you jibing the spinnaker pole like an old salt.

Photo by freefall alpha.

At the very least, learn the basics of boating online or at the library, including how to tie real knots.
Yep, your life will occasionally depend on the quality of your knots. Learn‘em.

Alternatively, offer your new crew a unique skill. Mechanics, chefs, electricians, dive instructors, masseuses, carpenters, heck, even hairdressers, will always find themselves welcome on board.

As delivery crew you’ll almost certainly be expected to knock up some meals in the galley too, so learn a few specialties.

On board, crew can expect to help out with day-to-day sailing tasks such as maintenance, navigation, cleaning, cooking and sooner or later, unblocking toilets.

Sailing’s not always pretty and those anticipating daiquiris in the cockpit at sundown everyday might be disappointed.

But what a way to travel. Riding the wind into bays you could never access overland.Diving hidden reefs, catching your dinner, navigating across entire oceans. Watching the sunrise after a night-watch with the best tea you’ve ever tasted warming your hands.

To ensure a good time is had by all, it’s important to check out your crew, because they’ll certainly be wondering about you.

Crew harmony comes above everything else on board, particularly on smaller boats. There aren’t many spots to hide on 15m of yacht when folks don’t get along.

Almost every captain would gladly hire an inexperienced sailor with a positive attitude over a know-it-all whom no one can stand to be around.

Photo by sharkbait.

The best piece of advice I have for anyone considering a yacht delivery is just learn how to get on with people.

Throw in a handful of herbal seasickness remedies and you’re away.

Get on board.

Community Connection

For available crew positions, check:

About The Author

Ben Keys

Ben used to sail for fun and be paid to write. These days he writes for fun and is paid to sail, an infinitely more agreeable arrangement.

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  • Athena

    San Diego Yacht club here I come!!!

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful info!

  • Cheyenne

    Definitely a good source, I am so happy I found this web site. What could be better than being paid to travel? “Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life,” as the old saying goes. However, I am a 17-year-old teenage girl looking for work in an economy that is quickly being flushed down the toilet. Do you think they’d still hire me at such a young age? Thanks

  • Jason talbot Rice

    I wouldn’t mind etting to know the world, if an of those Yacht captains are looking at this please consider my dsire to learn how to sail.

  • Brandon

    I would love to have this job because it’s one of my dreams to go around the world and travel… getting paid while doing it :)
    I’m down for working on a Yacht

  • Lana

    After reading an article like this on Matador (maybe it was this article), I got totally excited about it, made some contacts through facebook… to the San Diego Yacht Club actually, and now crew every Sunday on a Colombia 50′ and will be doing the San Diego – Ensenada race in a few weeks. I had never even been on a boat before 3 weeks ago… now I’m well on my way to hopping on a long term trip with my foreign boyfriend (as a team) after my graduation in June.

    Just get out and do it! So much easier than I imagined!

  • Megan

    I daydream of an opportunity such as this. My dad recently bought a sailboat and I love everything about it, especially the pure bliss of the freedom sailing brings. I must add I love to travel. I live in MN so I fall short of the connections I need to start this adventure. I have an undergrad degree but I have realized I cannot sit in a cube everyday! This website has me taking the first step so if anyone has additional information or opportunities I would appreciate it.


  • Andrew

    Remember this is a great idea but please use caution. If you pick a bad captain, the boat smells of mildew, people are using drugs inappropraitely, and so on it could be a nightmare or fatal.

    Great idea and world class fun but remember everyone who owns a boat is not a professional sailor.


  • Andy S.

    I live near NYC, is there anyplace there that would be a good point to jump off. I’ve only been on a sailing boat once or twice. I loved it, so any info would be great. Thanks and also I love this website, best thing since sliced bread.

  • Daniel the deckhand

    HI guys,
    It is indeed an interesting job to hold, working on yachts. I have been working for two years now as professional crew on superyachts and megayachts (pretty much any yacht bigger than 180ft is considered as “superyachts” or “megayachts”).

    I have traveled half the world now and saved up good money, and I can only highly recommend people to take advantage of this industry and the opportunities it holds.

    For US people looking for yachting positions should go to either:

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida (pretty much the yachting capital)
    San Diego

    and if in Europe, check out Antibes in Southern France (pretty much the European version of Fort Lauderdale).

    I’ve been a deckhand for two years now, and I still love what I’m doing and the places I go.

  • James

    Great forum guys, I spent 2 weeks at sea on an old 33ft tri that neally sunk a few times due unexpected holes in the hulls but we learnt how to beach the boat and mend the holse and navigate through a storm at night, island hoping to un-inhabited islands It was one of the best adventures I have ever had and reading the blogs on this website has inspired me to get back to that experience some where else in the world..

  • Kyle

    Inspiring article that speaks the truth of the trade. As a sailor myself, you hit on right on the head; for every unclogged toilet there is a warm cup of tea at sunrise waiting on the other side. Happy sailing…you ever come by Maui let me know.

  • delilah

    I started hitching on boats about 7 years ago. Since then I have sailed thousands of ocean miles without any cost. Considering the following, if you are an easy going free spirit that does not get sea sick this life style might be for you. Most of the time you are in a tight space with near strangers, days -weeks at sea, often in unforgiving weather conditions and fresh water is always limited.
    Blue water sailing is not for the faint or delicate. Ah but I love it mate.
    Findacrew has kept me onboard as much as I have desired. GOOD LUCK

    • Ziggy

      aT8T4F Glad I’ve finally found something I agree with!

  • lynnette

    How does one even get a job doing this? and how much does it pay

  • Nate

    The best yachts are other peoples’ yachts.

    This sounds awesome.

  • Ben

    Great to see people are still enjoying this article – it was the first one I wrote for Matador.
    I hope it’s inspired a few people to escape the office and head offshore.
    Having a basic knowledge of sailing is key to gaining a delivery position, as is being in one of the spots listed above. Palma, Gibraltar and Canary Islands are other options to hitch a lift, too.
    These days there is also the option of joining as professional crew, as Daniel noted. To do this you’ll need the STCW qualification as a minimum.
    Pay is great, but you work damn hard.
    I’ve found a good rule of thumb though: ‘the smaller the boat, the more fun you’ll have.”
    These days I would much rather do a delivery trip for free than be paid to be some rich guy’s chamois-monkey for the summer.
    Having said that, I’ve just served as a chamois-monkey for 4 years…!
    Go sailing.

  • Belliappa Somanna

    Hi , 
    I am from INDIA ,looking for a career in adventure travelling .But i don’t have an idea how to get into this field. Well, could you help me with this . I am from a small town called COORG in karnataka (India). My name is Belliappa . Please send an email or u could call me on +91 9844286503. Email’: belliappa.somanna


  • Revic

    Do alot captains require you have a passport? Or any?

  • Eva

    You are making my feet awfully itchy…   Need.To.Complete.the.Other.Side. 
    Great article which will is likely to get me into that good kind of trouble…  :)

  • Liamwest

    I’ve found a good rule of thumb though: ‘the smaller the boat, the more fun you’ll have.”
    These days I would much rather do a delivery trip for free than be paid to be some rich guy’s chamois-monkey for the summer.

  • Pamela Cameron

    What about middle-aged people?

  • Nick Zmina

    Are there any other sources of information online about these Yachtsmen? I figured I might ask before I thumb it across the country to find unexpected results. Thanks

    • Colin Flynn Patrick Mulcahy Lemr

      seamen is the word you were looking for. ask corey hites about it, he knows all about semen..errr……seamen, I mean.

  • Hann Ah

    Thanks for this post Ben. I’ve gotten pretty close to doing this in the past, so actually hearing from someone that’s done it (and that you don’t need to be a super experienced sailor) might be just what I needed.

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