, ,

The Hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic Ocean | Ocean Nomad

No boat, no much budget and no real sailing experience but a dream to make a big sailing trip!
Here’s a few waypoints that already help you tackle an Atlantic Ocean Crossing – as Crew.

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! As Walt Disney says “what can be dreamt, can be done!” Now, I’ve hitchhiked across the Atlantic four times as crew (twice from Europe to the Caribbean and twice from the Caribbean to Europe). I wrote Ocean Nomad, a guidebook on sailing the Atlantic as crew, which gives the info I wish I had when I started naively ‘let’s hitchhike across the Atlantic’ a few years ago. In this blogpost, I share a few of my best tips and resources.
I hitch-sailed the Atlantic four times now. Let’s say I figured out some things ;). Here’s some lessons learned and tips, to help you go across that ocean!

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 success! 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. Don’t underestimate this adventure! Please please inform yourself! Here you can find some more blogs about my boat hitchhiking adventures. A few more great stories and helpful blog posts from boat hitchhikers:

Ask sailors if they have any tips, links or connections

Via via you must know some seafarers. 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.

Sign up for the big crew websites

Sign up for the big crew websites. Here’s a list of seven crew websites to find a boat. Also, check out facebook groups. There’s dozens of them where you can connect with sailors. I created ‘Atlantic Ocean Crew‘ on facebook to help in this department. You can find a list of hand-picked sailing crew opportunities here, of which sometimes Atlantic sailing crew opportunities.

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!

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 the selection to a boat with a minimum of 4 crew, Skype and check references before accepting anything.

Be at the right place, right time

If the crew websites don’t work out, just go to a harbour. Part of the fun! But also part of the costs. You’ll find a hostel in the Canary Islands as from 15 euro’s/night (Or go couchsurfinghousesitting, or boatsitting. Las Palmas has many couchsurf hosts. Airbnb has some nice options, including boats in the harbour.

Hostel recommendations for Las Palmas

+ 5 minute walk to the harbour: La Fabrica (love the vibe here) and Alcaravaneras hostel (has also private rooms).

Another nice hostel is Utopia and Big Fish in Las Canteras but it’s a +/- 20 minute walk to the marina from there.

Atlas in La Isleta is another option especially if you’re on a tide budget. Here you can also work in exchange for accommodation. It’s a little further from the harbour.

Book your hostels in advance. On the spot they charge more and they are often booked out in high season (November- January). I wrote another blog on boat hitchhiking and provisioning in Las Palmas.

You can check out my page on recommended travel resources for budget friendly / free accommodation platforms, making friends, and travel with a positive impact.

boathitchhiking-tips

In the smaller harbours you may be the only person looking for a boat

When do boats sail across the Atlantic?

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.

In Ocean Nomad, I wrote extensively on when it’s a good time to be where, which harbours to go to, and how it all works when you’re in the harbour.

The boathitchhiker advertisements in Las Palmas

The boat-hitchhiker advertisements in Las Palmas

 

Bingo! You got a crew spot on a boat

But is it the right boat? Check!:

  • Experience of the captain? Licenses and references
  • State of the boat?
  • A competent crew on board?
  • Insured boat?
  • Does the boat have all the necessary equipment? Liferaft, lifejackets, harnesses? Satellite phone? EPIRB? Spares!!?
  • 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.
  • Find the full checklist in Ocean Nomad
  • Let me help you find your boat or assessing if it’s the right boat

Ahoy! Enjoy the ride! Before you know it, you’re on the other side.

In the end, it’s common sense, follow your instinct and one big adventure!

Would you like to learn more what’s it like to sail across the Atlantic? How to find a boat (and how not)? How to figure out if it’s the right and safe boat? When to be where? What are the Atlantic sailing routes? Which crew websites are worth signing up for? What to pack for a sailing adventure? What’s expected of you as crew? And you probably have wayyy more questions! Great! It’s not a straightforward adventure and preparation and research is key!

Invest ‘one hostel night’ into Ocean Nomad (Available in E-Book, Kindle or Print) and save weeks of research by having your Atlantic Ocean Sailing questions answered. Download a free sample. 

Here’s what some readers say:

 “I was absolutely amazed: is it really possible to cross an ocean if you don’t have sailing experience!? Inspired by Suzanne’s adventures and her very well provided details and information on the subject, I felt totally ready to throw off the bowlines myself. And I did! To me, Suzanne is THE example of ‘if you put your mind to it, you can do it’. This book will inspire and inform many more adventurous around the world.” – Janneke Dijkhuis

“Suzanne has been a major source of inspiration and information! From the first moment I read her writing, I knew that I wanted to do the same! And it worked out! We sailed from Canary Islands to Cape Verde, and went from Cape Verde to Barbados. When we were full of doubts if it was the right thing to do, I returned to what she wrote and re-convinced myself that it was all for the best.” – Paulina on the Road

“At almost 400 pages, Ocean Nomad contains actionable information for anyone involved (or interested) in hitch-sailing. More than a simple adventure story, or even a personal memoir of what the author did right and wrong when hitch-sailing (3 times!) across the Atlantic, the book is a comprehensive look at all aspects of hitch-sailing, with interviews of 32 captains and 58 sailors for a wide perspective.” – Jennifer Dunne

“As someone who has no boat, no budget, and no sailing experience, but loves to travel and have a good adventure, this book provided everything the author promises and more. While readers can use this as “guide book” to get a boat and plot an adventure crossing an ocean, it also gives readers an in-depth look at the deteriorating state of our oceans and ways both boaters and sailors and the “landlocked” citizens of earth to improve the quality of our waters. I can only imagine the amount of work, preparation, research, and thought that went into this book.  I can recommend this book to anyone who wants to go on an adventure on the ocean, plan out their own adventure, or learn about the health of our oceans and ways we can save them.” – Brian van Dongen

 

crew-sailing-boat-Atlantic-ocean-crossing

Don’t give up!

Ahoy! See you in the harbour!

 

Summary
How to boathitchhike the Atlantic Ocean? the hitchhikers guide by a 4-times ocean hitchhiker
Article Name
How to boathitchhike the Atlantic Ocean? the hitchhikers guide by a 4-times ocean hitchhiker
Description
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...
Author
Publisher Name
the Oceanpreneur
Publisher Logo
Suzanne

Suzanne

Ocean Nomad, Adventurer & Change-Maker
Hi! My name is Suzanne. I'm here to help you go on ocean adventures and make positive impact for a healthier ocean. Explore this website to learn what I do and how you can make some splashes too!
Suzanne
Suzanne
Suzanne
Help to make impact. Here's how you can support Ocean Awareness & Action -> Go to http://theoceanpreneur.com/about/support/
12 replies
  1. Pol
    Pol says:

    Hi!

    With great enthusiasm i read even more about crossing the atlantic by means of hitchhiking! I can’t wait to experience it myself!

    Just wondering: above several harbours are mentioned to go to. Which are those in the Carribean if you want to head to Europe?

    Thanks a lot!

    Cheers,
    Pol

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Hey Pol!
      Thanks! When will you go sailhitching :)? So as from April/May many boats leave the Caribbean before the Hurricane season. Route is Bahamas – Bermuda – Azores – Madeira – Wherever… I would look for big ports in these destinations. I know in the Azores, Horta is the place to be. For the other destinations I have’t looked into it yet. On the crewwebsites many boats are looking now for crew for the West-East crossing! Good luck! And let me know how it goes! Suzanne

      Reply
      • Carlos
        Carlos says:

        There is one point to bear in Mind; a spot in a good boat to cross the Atlántic is only 2.000/3.000 € away.And it all changues from taking anything ,begging for a Spot,always without knowing if they will all leave you “abandoned” ashore, to be choosing a boat,a Company with
        The responsability to be equiped,and with all experience for it.
        Then you can be sure of your adventure in advance.So it is not so difficult to be one year working to get that money ,as also those who cross in a sailboat must face a lot of expenses to be doing that.
        It is a fair trade. I have been in a first crossing without paying,i have got my boat and cross alone,at may own expenses ,and now i work with a Company,nice safe Catamaran,who charter and offers a good deal,three weeks crossing and a week through Caribbean for 2.700€.

        And after being in all sides, i think this is the best option.!

        Good sailing!,

        Reply
  2. michael
    michael says:

    Hi,

    I’m planning a trip to either Canada or New Zealand by hitching with sailing yachts. I’m currently trying to get a place on a yacht for the Atlantic crossing. Just had a guy reject me on the basis of me being a vegetarian. (Or not female : ) What’s your experience with this? Are you a vegetarian? Or have you met other travellers that have had a similar problem? -I’m hoping it won’t be an issue for me. Nice website BTW : )

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Hey Michael!
      Thank you:). If the guy rejects you because you’re vegetarian you’re probably gonna disagree on many more things and it might not be the right boat for you anyway! Don’t worry about that. It’s not an issue. It’s a good thing! There’s many boats that are happy to take a vegetarian on board. Since i’m getting way more aware of what’s happening in our ocean and food production in general i’m in the process of becoming vegetarian. How’s the boat hunt going? Enjoy the journey!

      Reply
  3. Melina & Linus
    Melina & Linus says:

    Hi!
    Great info and tips you got there!
    We’re a Swedish couple on our grand hitchhikeing tour from Berlin to South America.
    Since we’re a couple we’d prefer to do the Atlantic crossing together. Do you think it’ll be hard to find a crew that accepts two lovebirds?

    Cheers,
    Melina &Linus

    Reply
  4. Kylie
    Kylie says:

    Hey! Thanks for this! I love finding your website! I am now in Greece, flying to Belgium and Amsterdam for NY and then eager to cross after this! All of your info and super delightful enthusiasm aaaand positive attitude are A) super helpful in regards to following my dreams and B) super awesome to just have such a sister reflecting and BEING such awesomeness in this world here!!! Thank you Suzanne! Much love and enjoy your sweet holydays darlin!!!
    xxx
    Kylie

    Reply
  5. Paulina
    Paulina says:

    Thank you very much for this assuring and informative post! 🙂

    My boyfriend and I want to cross the Atlantic Sea in october leaving from Tenerife. Did you meet any couples doing “hitchboating”? 🙂 How feasable is it, to do hitchboating as a couple?

    Enjoy your travels!

    Thanks a lot for your ideas! 🙂

    Reply
    • Mark Frankham
      Mark Frankham says:

      Hi woder if you could help me wanted to track down owner or skipper of Cyclos 2. We are interested in buying the boat but not through brokers. Could you forward my contact email so we can touch base a discuss the boat in more detail. Sounds like you had a great time on her with your travels.

      Appreciate your help.

      Thanks Mark Frankham New Zealand Mobile Phone is 021 766 181

      Reply
      • Suzanne
        Suzanne says:

        Hi Mark!
        I will send you an email with CC (previous) captain. He will know!
        It’s an A-MA-ZING boat to sail! IF you’re buying it and you ever need crew, don’t hesitate to contact me. Would LOVE to sail her again!
        Good luck!
        Suzanne

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *