Finding a suitable partner to cruise with is very difficult. There are
plenty of unsuitable ones in almost every port; for instance in Antigua
during Race Week (and especially, the week thereafter!)
From "The Log Of Passe Partout":
Never ever leave on an offshore passage with crew that have never
done as much as a day-sail on your boat, much less an overnight.
Every crew member must have completed at least an afternoon sail
and preferably spent a night on the boat as well.
The consequences of ignoring this hint are grave and I could go
on for hours, but won't. However I'm still finding stuff put away
in the wrong place, lines made up incorrectly, and things just
[Also: had to spend a lot of time instructing the crew on how to
find or use things on the boat, and found out about crew's dietary preferences
after provisioning was done.]
From "Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia" by Steve and Linda Dashew
(on Amazon - paid link):
"... one of the reasons you're probably cruising is to gain freedom.
To the extent that you feel dependent upon your crew for their
seamanship or mechanical skills, you lose a great degree of freedom and mobility.
... [successful, ] experienced cruisers looked primarily to the social chemistry
as opposed to technical skills. If the right crew wasn't found, they could
carry on without."
Take first-time guests on a short trip rather than a long one.
Need fishing licenses for guests ?
From Jim McCorison on The Live-Aboard List:
The way we have handled this is to lay out several guidelines: (i.e. rules)
1) We can give you a firm pickup date and departure date, but with
locations subject to change. Or, firm pick up and drop off locations, dates
subject to change. We will not force ourselves, our boat, or our guests
into poor weather conditions to meet an airline schedule.
2) We are on a fixed income (zero dollars per month) therefore we expect
everybody to pay their own way. We do not count fuel or maintenance, but
guest are expected to pay for all costs, including food, that are directly
related to their visit.
3) Because we are on a fixed income, we won't be staying at marinas the
majority of the time, and if we do stay at a marina, we are not likely to
eat out or go bar-hopping. If you wish to do so, please feel free. Please
do not feel insulted if we elect not to go with you. If our companionship
ashore is strongly desired, you may feel free to pay for our meals, drinks,
The reactions you get from these rules fall into two categories. The first
is "What! You want me to pay?" These are the "oh cool, a free trip on a
cruise ship" friends. You won't see them.
The second reaction is "That makes perfect sense. I wouldn't have it any
other way." This reaction is usually from closer family members and good
friends. These are the kind of people you want aboard.
I've forgotten who said it, but "The perfect boat drinks six, eats four,
and sleeps two."
I've heard that if a skipper takes a crewperson aboard,
and then kicks them off in some foreign country,
the skipper has to pay for their transportation
back to the point of origin.
Is this true ? I assume the skipper is not liable
if the crewperson gets off voluntarily ? Are there
specific rules about this that I can read somewhere ?
I am not sure of where to go for a written appraisal.
Ethically the captain of a crew for purposes of delivery is responsible for
returning the crew to the point of departure.
Legally it is an issue to be determined by the country you are entering.
The vessel, owner, captain is legally responsible for the crew. This means
that a crew member can not be ejected from the vessel onto foreign soil
without passage from that soil.
Remember you are regulated by the same rule as any foreign vessel. Some
countries may ask that a vessel post a bond in the amount of an airline
ticket to the country of origin. This is the same as when you fly to the
island and they require you to have a round trip ticket.
Their concern is having someone on their soil that they might have to pay
the departure transportation to get you off their soil.
When I take someone to the Bahamas that is not a US citizen, the immigration
folks are not worried about letting this person into the Bahamas, they are
worried about the US not allowing them back into the US. If this happens
then the individual would be deported back to the Bahamas and then the
Bahamas would be stuck with this person and may have to pay to deport them
back to their home country.
This is an interesting situation and has to be dealt with on an individual
basis. You might start with searching for some government entity on the net.
When we were going to Cuba we found a good deal of information about going
to and returning from Cuba on the net. This was both governmental sources
and individual sources.
Sometimes this information does not always agree. We had a very difficult
time discerning the official line against the real line. To answer your
question I suspect that the answer will come from the country you will be
dealing with. The methodology will be different from country to country.
Another variable will be where the crew member is from. A friend of mine
was picked up midway between Guam and Saipan and the captain of the vessel
upon arriving in Saipan had to pay his airline ticket to Guam. Since Bob
had no passport and was not on the crew manifest he could not legally enter
Saipan. The captain could have dropped him off at the US consulate and let
the US government handle the situation, for the captain was responsible for
Bob and was responsible for returning him to US soil.
As you can see there are legal, international ramifications to having crew.
Crew is defined as any one who is on the vessel and not the captain. There
is but one captain. In a partner situation one person would have to be
presented as captain.
Situation: I come to USVI to visit and crew with you to Grenada. When we get
Grenada we are somewhat sick of each others company. I go to a local bar and
get into a fight and hospitalize a local. The vessel is responsible for the
crew. The local bar could sue the vessel for damages, the vessel could be
seized for payment. Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, you get the picture.
Does this ever happen, yes. Is it common, no.
Being that we were in the "yacht" business and that it is a small community
we heard of instances. So you are the captain of ten million dollar vessel
with deep pockets and four crew members and one of them rents a scooter and
runs over some local. Big trouble.
Take a hypothetical situation: the crew has papers that
are in order (US passport). Get to Grenada,
crew decides he/she wants out. Skipper says "I'm not kicking
you off, I'll take you back to USA, but I'm staying here
for 2 months and then going back." Crew says "Forget that,
I'm getting off, you owe me a plane ticket back to USA."
Does the skipper have to pay for a ticket ?
I just don't know. On one hand I would agree with you in that they
volunteered to depart the vessel. But on the other hand, most island
governments would hold the vessel responsible. The only reason they allow
this individual on their island is because he has a departure method. Otherwise
if he were to fly to Grenada he could only do so with a round trip ticket.
A more likely scenario is that you stop at Grenada for a few days on your
way south and at departure he gets off the boat, now you are without crew and
... are you still responsible for his departure two
months from now when they deport him? This is a good question and I just do
not have a clear answer.
See "Code of Federal Regulations, Title 33, Navigation and Navigable Waters" ?
From Federal Register which points to
8CFR252 "Landing Of Alien Crewmen" covers bringing alien crew into the USA,
and says they can enter if "... the crewman intends to depart on
the vessel on which he arrived ..." or "... departing from the
United States as a crewman on a vessel other than the
one on which he arrived, or departing as a passenger by means of other
transportation, within a period of 29 days, if the immigration officer
is satisfied that the crewman intends to depart in that manner, that
definite arrangements for such departure have been made, and the
immigration officer has consented to the pay off or discharge of the
crewman from the vessel on which he arrived. ...". And a skipper
can get rid of crew by "Application to pay off or discharge an alien crewman ...
shall be made by the ... commanding officer of the vessel
or aircraft on which the alien crewman arrived on Form I-408 filed with
the immigration officer ... The applicant
shall be notified of the decision, and, if the application is denied, of
the reasons therefore. ..."
Form I-408 is "Application to Pay off or Discharge Alien Crewman"
and contains an "Arrangements for departure from the U.S. ..."
section to fill in.
18 U.S. Code Section 2195
8 U.S. Code Section 1286
To release crew in a foreign country, you have to go to the immigration
and get the crew member removed from your ships papers. Most countries require
that the crew member show an airline ticket to their home country for the
removal from your papers. Here's the catch - if your crew wants to leave
and does not have the money for a ticket you must pay for that ticket.
Be sure that anyone who wants to crew for you has cash or a valid credit
card before you sign them up. Don't take their word for it.
I once made the mistake of accepting an Israeli's word that he had money,
which he didn't. Result was when I wanted this guy off of my boat I couldn't,
at least not without paying his way so I had to keep him aboard until
he could find a berth on another boat.
If you show up to clear out minus one passport they will want to know
where the crew is and will not let you leave. You must prove that the
crew has left the country. I know someone who was stuck in Barbados
until he could document when and how his crew left.
What kinds of "money" arrangements with crew should I expect ?
I will be a new owner/skipper looking for someone experienced
to cruise with me in the Florida Keys (and later, Bahamas) for a month or so.
Are all of the following possible ? Which are typical ?
Combine #4 with one of the others ? Are there legal implications
of money changing hands ?
I pay the crew $N per day.
The crew pays me $N per day.
No money changes hand on per-day basis.
Crew pays their fair share of provisioning and fuel costs.
Yes there are legal implications if money changes hands. If you pay them
they are crew, but as we have stated before, even if money does not change
hands, when you enter a foreign port they are still crew.
I suggest a fee per day, you manage the money. This may start to look like
a charter which means you should be licensed. But in actuality this problem
would be rare. If you were picking people, crew up, on a daily or weekly
purpose then maybe. But if you pick someone up at say Fort Lauderdale and
drop them off after three weeks in Annapolis then it would be darn difficult
to catch you.
On the other hand with all the studying that you are doing you could
probably get your six pack license for 25 ton or so. You need to be able
to pass the test and document 360 days of boat, sea time. On this first
trip to the well, so to speak, all your time starting with when you were
five years old in a fishing boat with your dad is legal sea time. All your
school time adds to this list. And since it is self-certifying for most of
it, well you know.
If you are desperate with a limited time frame then you could do the paid
crew routine. Many times this can be negotiated to be return airfare, no
more. On a delivery professional I usually pay from food and ticket to
food and ticket and up to $50 per day. You really should not have to do
this, there are way too many folks out there looking for experience.
From someone at cruising seminar: It is okay to share expenses, but not
to charge for passage. But even in
the shared-expense situation, don't ever produce a bill from the skipper to the crew-member.
Go to the supermarket or wherever together, and everyone pays to the supermarket.