I had a dilemma.
At the last minute I decided I wanted to go home to be with our daughter, leaving meant the Captain would be on his own and our boat has to keep moving west if we are to be crossing the Atlantic in November. The Captain talked about solo sailing, which was making me choose between a crazy lonely husband and a daughter dealing with cancer.
What to do, what to do?
Hands Up Who Wants To Cross An Ocean
Prior to the decision for me to fly home to Australia, we had discussed crossing the Atlantic on our own, or with another crew member. The Captain thinks we can do it on our own but I’m not so sure, plus I think it will be more fun to share the experience with another….
I put an ad on a crew wanted site to see who would apply.
I actually thought no one would respond.
Why would they….
I was thinking of words like, boat, small spaces, no land, no leaving if you hate it, and strangers 24/7. Then there is music playing that is not your choice, food different to your standard, sea sickness, possibility of bad weather and having to share night watches with broken sleep. Plus to round off the “why would you”, regardless of safety measures, people still drown, get hurt or mysteriously disappear off boats. In all, you could suggest that crossing an ocean on a boat with strangers could be similar to sharing a prison cell that doesn’t guarantee your safety. Like a prison a decent night’s sleep is no guarantee. Not many would call an ocean crossing a good time.
Then you have people like us who think it might be fun.
Me, I committed to this crazy life when 20 odd years ago, I said “I Do” this I Do also included “I Will” I will travel across the Big Blue and “I will” is due to happen this year in December. I’ve had plenty of time to get used to the idea but finding crew is making the dream seem very real.
We tried to get crew via conventional methods using our sphere of influence. We asked friends and family to see if anyone would like to join us on our passage. All bar one said no way and are you nuts. I quote one friend that sums it up like this “I couldn’t think of anything worse.”
I started preparing myself for the idea that I may have to cross our first ocean on our own. I did think I would have one crack at advertising for crew but didn’t hold much hope for success.
As a result I didn’t give much thought to my hastily written ad.
Cowboy Music Lovers And Smokers
In my ad the only things I asked for was a person willing to get themselves to the boat, then back home, also contribute to the food. I suggested that if a smoker, vegan, or fan of country and western music were interested– this was not the boat for them! Plus if you felt the need to see land at any given time to avoid totally freaking out then maybe they should travel in a campervan.
I could have been smarter and asked for experienced sailors, prior experience in crossing, but mostly I wanted someone who can get on with us. In my mind I thought younger would be better than older but really I wasn’t too fussed as I kept thinking beggars can’t be choosers.
Well stone the crows! I was stunned and amazed. My inbox was red hot with responses. Mostly via the website email, people wrote back immediately and said how much they would like to travel the ocean on Miss Catana. Then surprisingly most seemed sane, rational people who actually sounded rather cool AND they wanted to cross an ocean.
Before I share who won the prize of joining the crossing I need to go back to my dilemma. You remember. Sailing solo husband in Greece and daughter with cancer on the other side of the world.
Our Chances Of Finding Crew Seemed Slim
I had less than 24 hours before flying out, only four days before my Captain had to sail to meet another boat. Again I published another hastily written ad though on a new site that had a Last Minute Desperate For Crew Category. The site seemed perfect for this Miss and her anxious to move Captain.
I was fingers crossed that, the first response, wasn’t some pretty and sweet 35 year old sailing nurse who loved being on a boat and meeting new people. (Lucky me she applied second.) We had agreed that at the first response, we would say, welcome aboard.
Winner! Winner was Pat an American who wants to buy a catamaran so any chance to sail one was a good opportunity. Yes he could get to us, and yes, he had sailing experience, and yes he did not, I repeat, he did not sound like a crazy person. Pat did describe himself in detail, even including that he was a SWM which had me confused. I must ask him does that really mean Single White Male.
Now I really felt like we were on first date terms!!
The Captain and Pat’s first date began on Friday night and continues until mid september.
What About My Date Across The Atlantic
My Inbox Was Pinging!
OK there were people I wouldn’t want to take home to mother, let alone cross an ocean with, but mostly the choices were spectacular! Sailors with thousands of hours of experience who seemed pretty cool and surprisingly they wanted to come with us. Yet it is a daunting thing to choose someone who is going to live up close and personal in our home. This makes choosing a movie to watch look like a walk in the park.
I hated having to pick the right person as there was half a dozen people who could have been suitable. In the end we went with our gut feeling and pressed the big red button for a couple from Switzerland. Carole who is a sailor and has crossed the Atlantic already and her partner Gael who is a wannabe newbie sailor. They seemed happy, easy going and smart. We both liked them and truth is we won’t know if we picked correctly until we get to the other side of the Atlantic.
Then how cool is this, they made a sweet little video of a journey across the sea on a cat called Miss Catana. Worth the 2 minutes.
Final Thoughts A Few Suggestions For Wannabe Crew
Now that I have experience as a crew selector I feel soooo qualified to share some tips to anyone else who wishes to apply for a gig on a boat with a stranger.
Suggestion 1: Don’t be a dick and only talk about what your dreams are and how you wish for world peace whilst playing your guitar as you sail from country to country. That although you have never sailed the life appeals more than crashing in a plane. At some point you have to tell me what’s in it for me.
Suggestion 2: If the ad for crew gives dates don’t write back and say you are available at different times, please call me to discuss how we can fit in with your timetable.
Suggestion 3: Don’t write back to say you are a smoker but a sailing trip across the Atlantic is the perfect place to detox and give up.
Suggestion 4: Thanks for sharing that you know nothing about sailing, you love travelling and that you really wish to see South America, asking if we would consider changing our route to drop you off in Peru.
Suggestion 5: Next time you apply to an ad you might want to reconsider that sexy photo of you semi naked on a boat. For me that was just a little creepy.
A Daughter Update
I wanted to say thanks for all the lovely emails and comments of support to our daughter and family.
As tricky as it was to leave the boat, I’m so pleased I decided to come home. It was the right decision. Our daughter had her thyroid removed and learning to live life accordingly. This experience has rocked us all a little and adjusting is the new norm, though as stated in the previous post we think the future is 100% bright.
As for me I am freezing!!! From 40 degrees to 4 degrees on my first night with cool spring weather, I know for sure that I have arrived in Tasmania after leaving the Greek Islands.
PS thanks to all the wonderful sailors both experienced and not, who put their hand up to come sailing on Miss Catana. I appreciate and was humbled by the response. Thank you all so much.