Crew and good crew
I'm always a bit jealous of sailors with sailing partners. There's no doubt that the most successful cruisers are couples... There's variations of course... some are the same gender, some have kids (usually pre-teenage), but most commonly male and female.
When I was planning to leave Hobart for the South Pacific, the first crew I found (in 2013) were Anne, James and Alice... all amazing. So I got the impression, completely wrongly as it turned out, that I would have no trouble finding good crew.
Over the years I've sailed with a range of ages, male and female. From 12 years old to 75. I've thought a lot about what I need on the boat in terms of crew, and how I can go about finding good crew. Some points are obvious, but I keep on coming back to the idea of identifying key attributes which would help me identify good crew... quickly and easily. But I'm still pondering the subject without reaching any firm conclusion. I don't really know how to find good crew.
Even getting crew for a short time has proved difficult, and in fact in Fiji in 2015 I was "stuck" for nearly 2 months without crew. There's a difference between crew and good crew. If someone joins Ocean Child for a short outing, say one day, that person will correctly assume that little will be asked of them... they are essentially passengers rather than crew. However someone joining Ocean Child with the intention of staying a few months will have a completely different attitude... Such a person will be interested in the boat, and the skipper... how they work or think...I need crew who think like this, even if they won't be with Ocean Child all that long.
My thinking at present is that the only way I can find good crew is to invite anyone who is interested in the boat to meet me, and then take them away for a weekend sailing if they seem enthusiastic.
I'm not a great cook, and I spend so much time maintaining the boat I love the idea of crew taking over responsibility for the galley.
These are the attributes I look for in crew:
- a generally positive and happy disposition
- some resistance to sea sickness
- some experience or at least enthusiasm for boats and sailing
- a love of nature, particular the natural environment of coasts and oceans
- a lifestyle which would allow them, maybe later, to commit to a long trip.
By asking a few questions, and spending time with a person, I can get a good idea fairly quickly of their match with these attributes.
However it's quite hard to work out quickly how a person will work together with me as a team... this seems to require a longer time together, maybe a week. And here's the difficulty... if it doesn't work out, how do I say "no" to a person who might have flown, at their own expense, from another nation just to meet me? Luckily I haven't been placed in that dilemma yet.
One important lesson I learnt about myself is that it's not so much the adventure of cruising that's important to me, it's more the joy of sharing the ups and downs with someone I feel connected with. But that really close connection, which I had with Anne, James and Alice... this is so unusual that all I can do really is hope, and trust in my lucky stars...