No boat, no budget and no real sailing experience but a dream to make a big sailing trip!
Does that describe you? Join the club! The complete hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic (Ocean Nomad) will be launched this summer. To get you started: here’s a few waypoints that already help you tackle an Atlantic Ocean Crossing – as Crew.
I am was on a mission to turn all these no’s into a yes. As Walt Disney says “what can be dreamt, can be done!” so let’s do this.
Every year between October – february more than 1.500 sailboats are making the Atlantic Ocean crossing from Europe to the Caribbean. Another estimated 1.000 boat sail from the Caribbean to Europe. Crew spots enough for every determined person to make this passage!
I hitch-sailed the Atlantic three times now. Let’s say I figured out some things ;). Here’s some lessons learned and tips, to help you go across that ocean!
On ‘Eau Too’ the 3rd boat I hitch-sailed the Atlantic with
Tips to help you find (the right!) sailboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean
Willpower and determination
Believe that It’s gonna happen and tell everyone it’s gonna happen. Then it WILL happen. The law of attraction!
Start the investigations and communications early
The earlier you start searching, the more chances for succes! For the Europe to Caribbean crossing, I started digging into it in July, in August I was all set. Since, I have received 10+ more serious and fun requests.
Read stories of people who made the crossing
It’s fun and it gives you a better idea what it’s like. Here you can find some blogs about my boathitchhiking adventures. A few more great stories and helpful blog posts:
Ask sailors if they have any tips, links or connections
Via via you must know some sea farers. I had some connections from back in days. Everyone is willing to help. It’s a great community. From their responses I realised that making the trip larger, with some island hopping prior and after, than ‘just a crossing’ is way more fun and will teach me way more about sailing. I extend the Atlantic Ocean crossing dream with some island hopping in the Canary Islands and Caribbean archipelagos. So think about WHY you want to do this.
What to put in your crew profile when you have no sailing experience?
Sailing experience is desired but a positive attitude and handy hands probably even more. So don’t worry about not having sailing experience. Put in your enthusiasm, your story and other skills (language, cooking, dive, kite, yoga, mechanic, fishing, medical, writing, photography, video, comedian, massage, electrician, dietist, heck if you’re good at fridge tetris you have a welcome skill) and you’ll come a long way! A skipper stumbled upon my travelblog and takes me on board because he liked my blog. Now I’m gonna be the reporter for this trip. A win win! As a girl who wants to cross the Atlantic you receive more crew invitations? While it may be ‘easier’ you still want to feel safe, secure and comfortable. There may be more opportunities but maybe less ‘matching’ ones. Tips for the women: Narrow down selection to a boat with a minimum of 4 crew, Skype and check references before accepting anything.
In the smaller harbours you may be the only person looking for a boat
October/November/December/January is when most boats make the Atlantic ocean crossing from East to West, from Europe to the Caribbean. November/December is peak. 2nd half of December not many boats are leaving because of Christmas and Newyear. January has more constant trade-winds. Also In January new boats come in looking for crew. There are only half as many hitch-sailors as in November and December. There are some big Atlantic crossing sailing events which could be fun (but more difficult & expensive) to join. The ARC leaves mid november from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Hords of people were looking and many deceived to go to different island as it apparently was way to competitive to find a spot. So increase your chances by standing out! Make a nice advertisement of yourself with a colourful photo. Or go to a less busy harbour where there may be less boats but also less competition. Or just look for a ride to Cape Verde! In Cape Verde I met many boats looking for crew! There was no crew around. Ok, you may get ‘stuck’ if you don’t find any but it is an amazing place to be ‘stuck.’
The boat-hitchhiker advertisements in Las Palmas
Which harbours to go to?Gibraltar, Madeira, Portugal, Cadiz, Galicia, Morocco, and other Canary Islands like Tenerife (Los Cristianos), Fuerteventura, La Gomera or La Palma, Las Palmas (Gran Canaria).
Rallies: Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. Around this event a lot of gatherings are organised which gives the whole adventure and extra fun dimension, Lanzarote: Atlantic Odyssey. Great rally initiative themed ‘Our ocean – our Future.’ You can participate in events and seminars prior to departure to learn about sailing and ocean conservation.
Bingo! You got a crew spot on a boat
But is it the right boat? Check!:
Experience of the captain? Licenses and references
Last but not least, learn about the people! Will there be like-minded crew on board? You’re gonna be stuck with them for a while so get to know each other a bit before hand!! Feel comfortable with them.
Read Don’t be afraid to say no by Bob Fritz. A well written article of things to bear in mind, check and ask before committing to a boat.
Say NO! If it doesn’t feel right! On the ocean there is no way to go.
In the end, it’s common sense, follow your instinct and one big adventure!
Don’t give up!
Grande update 1 (Dec ’14): I stepped off the boat just before crossing the Atlantic. Instinct. I joined the hitch-sailors community in Las Palmas and I love it! It’s an amazing group off adventure seekers out here. It’s more organized to find a boat here. Although it’s very competitive. We’re about 20 persons looking for a boat. Some changed course because it was too difficult. I think November/early December is a good time to be here, or January. Now it’s mid december and most boats left to be on the other side of the pond before Christmas. Or boats are docked and will leave after christmas/new year. I will keep updating this posts. Becoming in pro in finding boats:)
Grande update 2 (Jan ’15): I found a new boat. I coincidentally ran into a captain locally in the harbour I was already in touch with this summer. He still had a spot free. I can join 🙂 Mid january we set sail!
Grande update 4 (2016): I’m writing an e-book, all about it: the hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic Ocean I have so much information to share. ‘How to hitchsail the Atlantic Ocean’? I’m halfway with the writing, as well as the journey. Would you like to be updated as soon as it’s finished? Leave you email here!
Grande update 6: It’s not going to be just an e-book. I’m making a book of it. The hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic Ocean will come out in digital and print version
Grande update 7: Season 2016 I’m going to look for a boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean again! :). Follow the adventure on facebook or instagram.
Grande update 8: Hello from the Caribbean! I hitch-sailed the Atlantic Ocean with the ARC this time. So I can add more info on that in the book! Now working superduber hard to get the book finished a.s.a.p.
Grande update 9: The complete guide to hitchhiking across the Atlantic is almost finished! I’ve verified all the info by crossing the Atlantic again! I’m going through the 7th edit now (bear with me – I’m not native English;)) It will be titled OCEAN NOMAD ETA: July 2017! to help you get informed for your upcoming Atlantic Ocean crossing! Here’s a sneakpeak
See you in the harbour!
How to boathitchhike the Atlantic Ocean? the hitchhikers guide by a 3-times ocean hitchhiker
No boat, no budget and no real sailing experience but a dream to make a big sailing trip! The hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic you've been waiting for. Here's a few waypoints to get you started...