How many times have you dreamed about sailing… and thought it wasn’t for you?

I know I’m lucky to have been a sailor since a young age. Sailing was in my weekly routine since I was ten, and it’s still a huge part of who I am. Being at sea has always made me feel stronger and happier and it still does, every time! Recently, when talking about my sailing adventures, it’s common for me to hear people saying they always wanted to go sailing but never had the guts, the money or the time to do it.

It’s inevitable that I sympathize, that I try to understand and listen to their reasons for not doing it. Maybe you’re one of those people, and I’m sure I’d sympathize with your reasons too, whatever they might be. However in the back of my mind all I want is for you to know how easy it’s to get started – because sailing is for all. You don’t need to have a boat, you don’t need much money and how much time you’ll spend doing it is entirely up to you.

How, you might ask? The answer is: hitchhiking sailboats! It’s not a new concept, I didn’t invent and I wasn’t the first person to do it, thousands of people have done it before. My point being: you can also do it!

Hitchhiking sailboats is, in my opinion, the best way to have a multi-location adventure while doing it on a budget. It doesn’t matter where you are; as long as there’s coast line, you’ll be able to find a marina or nautical club! Start there. All around the world there are sailor communities and associations who’ll be happy to help you. Just know what to look for: ask for racing or crewing opportunities. Cut the excuses, and go for it!

If you’re willing to take orders (oh yes, you’ll be shouted at a lot in the beginning!) and be a fast learner, you won’t have any trouble finding a sailboat to join. Skippers are very bossy and will be happy to have an extra hand onboard.

So far so good – you already know how to get closer to joining a sailboat. But what about the costs? Good news! Most crewing opportunities are low budget and racing ones are free. If you join a cruising sailboat, the most common situation is shared expenses, where everyone pays a share of the total cost. Usually this includes: marina fees, water, fuel and supermarket food. Boat maintenance and other boat-related costs are usually paid by the owner. Don’t be fooled into charter options where a sailing week costs you a load of money and you’re treated as a guest! (Unless that’s your idea of being a sailor…)

If your schedule only allows for weekend sailing than you’ll probably end up racing. Most races happen on Saturdays or Sundays. If boat owners take part in local races, marinas usually offer them a discount on their annual berth cost – which means skippers are constantly looking for crew to race with them. The more regular and committed you are, the bigger chance you have to be called again for the next race! Oh and don’t worry about the money – as I mentioned above, racing is free.

What about time? If you only have weekends to spare, that’s already taken care of (see above). If you’re more into long distance sailing, or you want a proper sailing adventure, you might be thinking, “To go cruising I need to take holidays from work… and then my family will need me, or my friends may not understand”. In that case, I’m sure you can find a national holiday combined with a weekend, maybe take one day off as well, and voilá – you can do a 4-day sailing getaway! There are many boat delivery companies and solo sailors too in need of help to transport boats between harbors, so 3 or 4 days is usually enough. If you’re worried about missing out on time with friends or family, then why not ask them to come too? Who knows – perhaps you’ll find a new way to bond with the people you already love.

The truth is that the only challenge in all of this is making time for sailing. That part is up to you – but the good news is, after you’ve made the time, the opportunities will arise! And who knows then where the wind might take you?


This is a guest post by Carmo.

Carmo is crazy about the sea, a fan of photography and likes to write in her spare time – you can check out her book, a guide to hitchhiking sailboats, here! She doesn’t know how to stay still or settle down, and is always involved in a ton of different projects. Life stories, diverse cultures and sailing fascinate her, and a passion for the connection between sea and people is what led her to create the life ON board travel project – which you can follow on tumblr, Facebook or Instagram.